Montana State University

Civil Engineering Department, Hydraulics Laboratory

PHoto of Hydraulics Lab

The Civil Engineering Department at Montana State University maintains the Hydraulics Lab.  The lab is and indoor wet-lab facility where stored water may be delivered to experiments involving hydraulics and fluid mechanics.  The lab occupies 1700 square feet of work space.  Potable water is stored beneath the floor in two rectangular sumps, each with 4 feet of water depth when full.  The sumps provide approximately 1700 cubic feet of water that can be pumped into a pressurized 12-inch diameter overhead steel pipe that circumnavigates the lab space.  The 12-inch pipe is large relative to most of the experiments that it supplies, providing nearly constant pressure at approximately 35 psig.  Water delivered from the overhead pipe to any experiment is returned to the sumps either directly or via a grated trough in the concrete floor.  The shared-use lab supports research and teaching activities, so the demonstrations typical to an undergraduate hydraulics course are permanently available in the facility.  The lab houses a rectangular cross-section open-channel flume that is 30 feet long by 18 inches wide by 18 inches deep with clear PVC side walls.  A low velocity-head flume to which removable hydraulic structures may be affixed is also available.   The overhead pipe has multiple outlets to which new experiments may be affixed as research needs evolve.  The submersible recirculating pump can deliver approximately 1.5 cfs to any given experiment.  Standard equipment for measuring fluid pressure (electronic transducers) and velocity (electromagnetic and acoustic Doppler velocimeters) are available and can be adapted to new experiments.  The lab is available to the campus community without charge, but with priority given to teaching activities and research in which MSU civil engineering faculty participate. 

 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bozeman Fish Technology Center

Open Channel Flume Facility

Open Channel Flume at BFTC

The BFTC houses a large open channel flume (0.9 meters width × 0.9 meters depth ×17.1 meters length).  The flume is constructed from wood and rests on a metal framework that can be tilted with hydraulic jacks to adjust the slope. The flume floor and walls are covered with smooth plastic sheeting and reference lines were painted on the bottom every 0.3 meters in order to track fish position. The smooth lining, consistent slope and straight walls and floor of the flume reduced structured turbulence, boundary layer effects and flow friction. The flume is highly customizable.  The size, shape and bed material of the flume can be altered.  Additional hydraulic structures can be attached for testing purposes.  An array of seven digital video cameras (Handicam HDR-XR-150, Sony, Tokyo, Japan) can be positioned 2 meters above the flume to record fish swimming. A black fabric shroud covers the flume to ensure uniform lighting and prevent disturbances to test fish. On-site warm and cold water wells supply water to the flume and allow for a range of temperatures to be tested (10-20° C). 

Swimming Chamber

The swim chamber is a 185 L, Loligo Systems chamber and is supplied with air-saturated flow-through water. The test section has a cross section of 25 x 25 cm and a length of 80 cm. Flow straighteners located just upstream of the test section provided rectilinear micro-turbulent flow and an approximately uniform velocity profile. A black plastic shroud can be erected around the entire chamber to prevent disturbances to test fish. A video camera is available to record trials.