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Chapter 9 Non-uniform Flow in Open Channels

9.1 Critical , Sub-critical and super critical flow 9.2 Specific energy 9.3 Gradually Varied Flow 9.4 Hydraulic jump


Definition: By non-uniform flow, we mean that the velocity varies at each section of the channel. Velocities vary Non-uniform flow can be caused by i) Differences in depth of channel and ii) Differences in width of channel. iii) Differences in the nature of bed iv) Differences in slope of channel and v) Obstruction in the direction of flow.

Non-uniform Flow In Open Channels


In the non-uniform flow, the Energy Line is not parallel to the bed of the channel. The study of non-uniform flow is primarily concerned with the analysis of Surface profiles and Energy Gradients.

Hydraulic characteristics of the non-uniform flow in open channels: The bed slope i, water surface gradient Jp and the hydraulic slope J are not equal, i.e. show as fig.

9.1 Critical , Sub-critical and super critical flow

Sub-critical Flow: If the small surface wave can propagate upstream as well as downstream, it will lead to a backwater zone of great distances before the obstacles. This flow is called a sub-critical flow, in which the velocity of flow is less than that of the wave propagation, namely, V<C.

C- v

C+ v

Sub-critical Flow

Supercritical Flow
The small surface wave will be formed when the flow in the open channel is disturbed. If the wave can only propagate downstream, and can't propagate against the flow, the backwater zone is formed only around the obstacles. This kind of flow in open channels is called supercritical flow, in which the velocity of flow is greater than that of the wave propagation, namely, v>c.


C+ v

Supercritical Flow

Critical Flow

If the velocity of the small surface wave propagating upstream is zero, which is just the critical situation to distinct the supercritical flow and the sub-critical flow, this kind of flow is called the critical flow, namely, V=C .

v= C


Critical Flow

9.2 Specific Energy

Total mechanical energy of the liquid in a channel in terms of heads

z is the elevation head y is the gage pressure head V2/2g is the dynamic head Taking the datum z=0 as the bottom of the channel, the specific energy Es is

Specific Energy

In a channel with constant discharge, Q Q = A1V1 = A2V2

Es = y + V2 2g

Q2 Es = y + 2gA2

where A=f(y)

Consider rectangular channel (A = By) and Q = qB

q is the discharge per unit width of channel

q2 Es = y + 2 2gy


How many possible depths given a specific energy? _____ 2

Specific Energy Curve

For a channel with constant width b,

Q = AcV = ybV

Q2 Es = y + 2 2 2gb y

Plot of Es vs. y for constant V and b

Specific Energy Curve

For a given flow, if

Es < Emin Es = Emin E s > Emin , V < Vc


No solution is possible Flow is critical, y = yc, V = Vc Fr = 1

Flow is subcritical, y > yc , Fr < 1 , disturbances can propagate upstream as well as downstream Es > Emin , V > Vc : Flow is supercritical, y < yc , Fr > 1, disturbances can only propagate downstream

Froude Number

This is a Dimensionless Ratio Characterizing Open Channel Flow. V Froude Number, Kinetic energy

Fr =


Potential energy

inertial force gravity force

Froude Number and Wave Speed

Critical depth yc occurs at Fr = 1

V 2 Q2 yc = = 2 g gAc

At low flow velocities (Fr < 1)
Disturbance travels upstream y > yc Disturbance travels downstream y < yc

At high flow velocities (Fr > 1)

Multiple Choices
When the flow in open channel is supercritical flow: A. Fr>1 B. h>hc C. v<vc D.


The specific energy must increase with the increase of water depth.
Your answer: True false

9.3 Gradually Varied Flow

In GVF, y and V vary slowly, and the free surface is stable In contrast to uniform flow, Sf S0. Now, flow depth reflects the dynamic balance between gravity, shear force, and inertial effects To derive how how the depth varies with x, consider the total head

Gradually Varied Flow

Take the derivative of H

Slope dH/dx of the energy line is equal to negative of the friction slope

Bed slope has been defined

Inserting both S0 and Sf gives

Gradually Varied Flow

Introducing continuity equation, which can be written as

Differentiating with respect to x gives

Substitute dV/dx back into equation from previous slide, and using definition of the Froude number gives a relationship for the rate of change of depth

Gradually Varied Flow

This result is important. It permits classification of liquid surface profiles as a function of Fr, S0, Sf, and initial conditions. Bed slope S0 is classified as Steep : yn < yc Critical : yn = yc Mild : yn > yc Horizontal : S0 = 0 Adverse : S0 < 0 Initial depth is given a number 1 : y > yn 2 : yn < y < yc 3 : y < yc

Gradually Varied Flow

12 distinct configurations for surface profiles in GVF.

Gradually Varied Flow

Typical OC system involves several sections of different slopes, with transitions Overall surface profile is made up of individual profiles described on previous slides

9.4 Hydraulic Jump

Flow is called rapidly varied flow (RVF) if the flow depth has a large change over a short distance Sluice gates Weirs Waterfalls Abrupt changes in cross section Often characterized by significant 3D and transient effects Backflows Separations

Hydraulic Jump

Used for energy dissipation Occurs when flow transitions from supercritical to subcritical
base of spillway Steep slope to mild slope

We would like to know depth of water downstream from jump as well as the location of the jump Which equation, Energy or Momentum?

Fig. Flow under a sluice gate accelerates from subcritical to critical to supercritical and then jumps back to subcritical flow

A hydraulic jump in a flume is illustrated below.

flow supercritical subcritical

Hydraulic jump in the laboratory.

Itaipu dam spillway with hydraulic jump.

Hydraulic jump variations: (a) jump caused by a change in channel slope, (b) submerged jump.


The illustrated channel below carries constant water discharge Q in a wide, rectangular channel of constant width B. The flow makes the transition from supercritical to subcritical through a hydraulic jump.
hydraulic jump

Fr < 1 Fr > 1

Momentum balance in the illustrated control volume is considered (width B out of the page).


Continuity equation

momentum equation

Substituting and simplifying

Quadratic equation for y2/y1


Solving the quadratic equation and keeping only the positive root leads to the depth ratio

Energy equation for this section can be written as

Head loss associated with hydraulic jump

Hydraulic Jump: Energy Loss and Length



E1 = E 2 + hL

E = y +

4 y1 y2 2gy 2 significant energy loss (to turbulence) in jump


hL =

( y2 y1 )3

of jump

No general theoretical solution Experiments show

L = 6 y2
for 4.5 < Fr1 < 13

Hydraulic Jump

Often, hydraulic jumps are avoided because they dissipate valuable energy However, in some cases, the energy must be dissipated so that it doesnt cause damage A measure of performance of a hydraulic jump is its fraction of energy dissipation, or energy dissipation ratio

Hydraulic Jump

Experimental studies indicate that hydraulic jumps can be classified into 5 categories, depending upon the upstream Fr