Effects of different in-stream structure representations in computational fluid dynamics models-taking engineered log jams (ELJ) as an example

Yuncheng Xu, Xiaofeng Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In-stream structures contribute greatly to the biodiversity in streams and play an important role in restoring and protecting rivers. They usually have complex geometries. To evaluate their impact and effectiveness, computational models are increasingly used. However, how to faithfully represent them in computer models remains a challenge. Often, simplifications have to be made. This work evaluated the effects of geometric simplification of an example in-stream structure, an engineered log jam (ELJ), in computational models. Three different representations were considered, namely full resolution, the porous media model and the solid barrier model. The turbulent flow was resolved with large eddy simulation (LES). First, the simulations were validated with a physical experiment in a flume. Then, the results from the three models were compared and analyzed on various aspects related to the stability and functionalities of the structures. Unsurprisingly, it is found that the porous media model and the solid barrier model, which are computationally economic, can describe the flow dynamics only to some extent. From the calibration of drag force and wake length, we found that the equivalent grain size d50 in the porosity model should scale as the key element diameter for the simulated ELJ. A wake length scale analysis was performed for the semi-bounded flow around this in-stream structure near the bank. The length estimator in the literature for unbounded vegetation patches can be used with modifications. The results also show that the flow passing through the porous in-stream structure has a significant impact on mean velocity, turbulence kinetic energy, sediment transport capacity and integral wake length. Since geometrically-fully-resolved simulations are not currently feasible for engineering practices, the following suggestions are made based on this study. If the near-field and wake are important for the purpose of the structure, the well-calibrated porosity model seems to perform better than the solid barrier model. However, care needs to be taken when interpreting the results because this work also identified substantial loss of physical information with the porosity model. When the emphasis is the far field away from the structure, both the porosity model and the solid barrier model give comparable results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of different in-stream structure representations in computational fluid dynamics models-taking engineered log jams (ELJ) as an example'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this