Advanced course: river hydraulics

Modelling and digital simulation of river hydraulics

Organisation: Sandra Soares-Frazão, Professor in Hydraulics, Université catholique de Louvain
Durée : 1 week
Date: 5–9 November 2012
Location: Ecole Polytechnique de Louvain (Université catholique de Louvain, EPL)

Course background

This academic course examines river hydraulics, which covers transient free-surface flows and the potential morphological evolution of the bed and banks of a channel. This includes transient flows in rivers or canals following the commissioning or shutdown of a hydroelectric power plant, after actuating a valve in an irrigation channel, or through natural flood rooting. The most transient flows also include dam or containment dike failures. Depending on the sedimentary characteristics of the streambeds,the latter may suffer erosion, and occasionally extensive erosion in the event of a highly transient flow, i.e. due to a breach.

The course will address these various types of flows, first from a theoretical point of view through the equations that apply to them, and then, from a practical standpoint, through their numerical resolution using different tools of varying complexity, since some calculations can easily be made using an Excel spreadsheet,while others require more sophisticated software. The course will also address how to choose the most relevant modelling tools. Finally, the hydraulics laboratory and test channels will provide an experimental basis for the flow concepts that have been studied.

Course objectives

By the end of the course, students will be able to use the relevant equations to represent a given river hydraulics problem, and solve these equations with an appropriate digital method.

Teaching methods

The syllabus combines various complementary teaching formats in the learning process:

  • Lectures.
  • Practical, hands-on computer sessions: use of Excel, Matlab or current calculation codes.
  • Practical, hands-on laboratory sessions: illustration of theoretical concepts and use of nonintrusive techniques for measuring transient flows (digital imaging, ultrasonic sensors, etc.).
  • Opening seminars: these seminars, run by RESCIF staff members, offer different perspectives on issues relating to river hydraulics based on examples or research led by partner institutions.
  • Study tour to the Châtelet hydraulic research laboratory and to the Strépy-Thieu hydraulic lifts.

Link to the course homepage:


Through RESCIF, a course in ‘Modelling and digital simulation of river hydraulics’ (in French) will be organised at the Universitécatholique de Louvain (UCL, Belgium) from 5 to 9 November 2012. Information is available at the following address: