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Numerical and experimental research of wave interaction with a porous breakwater

Author: Mellink, B.A.
Mentor: Uijttewaal, W.S.J. · Van den Bos, J. · Van den Berg, B. · Zijlema, M.
Faculty:Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Department:Hydraulic Engineering
Programme:Enviromental Fluid Mechanics
Type:Master thesis
Related item:
Keywords: porous flow · notional permeability · SWASH · reflection and transmission · Van der Meer formula
Rights: (c) 2012 Mellink, B.A.


The design formula for rubble mound breakwaters by Van der Meer has an unclear Notional Permeability term. This term causes a lot of confusion for designers. In the past many people have tried to derive a better formulation for that term by experimental and analytical research. The goal of this study was to obtain a better formulation along a numerical way. This study explores the numerical possibilities and tries to define which direction has to be taken in future research.

As a first step, a very simplified case is taken with a vertical homogeneous breakwater which interact with monochromatic waves. In total six different blocks were made of epoxy and elastocoast. Only 4 out of the 6 blocks were tested. Also the porosity (n), laminar friction (α) and turbulent friction constant (β) of the blocks were determined experimentally. This way the experimental results could be compared with computations.

These experiments have been done in the large flume of the Environmental Fluid Mechanics Laboratory of the TU Delft. Two types of data were collected: pore pressures and water levels in front and behind the block. The water levels seemed to be the most reliable data. The main deficit of the setup was the wave absorber at the end of the flume. The wave absorber is not able to sufficiently absorb long waves. So the dataset had to be corrected for that effect. The created dataset was in line with results from earlier experiments.

Results were compared with an analytical solution and the numerical SWASH model. Comparisons with the analytical solution showed a reasonable fit without any calibration. The SWASH model showed in first instance large deviations using the same dataset. By calibrating the turbulent flow resistance β, it was possible to generate a decent fit. However, the used β constants are 6-10 times higher than the measured β constants. This is physically unrealistic high. Therefore the most likely explanation is an error in the transition between the water and the porous medium. During the experiment discontinuities can occur on this transition while SWASH uses an continuity requirement.

Numerical tests were performed on some multi-layered combinations of the different blocks in order to derive a "Vertical P" value in a similar way as Van der Meer determined his P=0.4 structure. The results showed, nevertheless, quite some different patterns as the computations done by Van der Meer. However, taking into account all the problems with calibrating the SWASH model the results for the notional permeability seemed very promising. This numerical method shows the possibility of numerically calculating a notional permeability and should be investigated further in the future.

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