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International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering

Website: www.ijetae.com (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 3, Issue 12, December 2013)

Design Aspects and Model studies for Silt Flushing Tunnels in


Hydro Power Projects
M K Verma1, M Z Qamar2, A P Meshram3
1,2

Research Officer, Assistant Research Officer, Central Water & Power Research Station, Pune (India)-411 024
The flushing discharge along with the settled sediment is
sucked into the flushing tunnels through these openings.
The size and spacing of these openings are so designed to
ensure that the velocity in the silt flushing tunnel is more
than 3.0 m/s throughout its length for efficient transport of
settled sediment.

Abstract The Himalayan Rivers due to their steep bed


and side slopes, narrow width and fragile geology of the
region carry huge amount of sediment with them. Many runof-river hydro power projects are coming up on these rivers
and suspended sediment enters into the power intake of these
projects. Desilting chambers are provided to remove /
minimize the suspended sediment from water conductor
system. The settled sediment in the desilting chamber is
flushed out continuously through the flushing tunnels
provided just below the chamber. These flushing tunnels
carry the settled sediment laden water up to their outfall in
river downstream of the dam. Various design parameters of
silt flushing tunnels which can only be finalized, after
conducting physical model studies are discussed in this paper.
Keywords
capacity silt
concentration.

Desilting
flushing

chamber, sediment
tunnel, suspended

II. DESIGN ASPECTS OF SILT FLUSHING TUNNELS


Control gates are provided in silt flushing tunnels at the
end of desilting chamber and beyond the control gates the
tunnels are designed as open channel flow. The flow in the
flushing tunnels upto the control gate is pressure flow. If
two or more units of desilting chambers are provided than
the individual flushing tunnels are combined into a single
tunnel and is discharged to the outfall into the river
downstream of dam. The layout and slope of individual as
well as the combined flushing tunnel are so designed that
the desired sediment transport capacity is achieved and the
sediment is discharged to the outfall without any deposition
or chocking. The length of the combined flushing tunnel is
kept as minimum as possible from economic point of view
without compromising in its sediment transport capacity.
Various design aspects are summarized below:

transport
sediment

I. INTRODUCTION
The rivers in the Himalayan region possess very high
power potential and many cascade type run-of-river hydro
power plants have already been commissioned and many
more are coming up in the near future. When a hydro
power project is constructed on such a river, the suspended
part of the sediment load finds its way into the power
intake and causes a lot of damage to the turbine blades and
other costly under water equipments in the power house.
Desilting chambers form an integral part of water
conductor system of these projects to remove / minimize
the suspended sediment from water diverted for power
generation. In these desilting chambers, cross sectional area
of flow is increased to a designed length and settlement of
suspended sediment occurs in this length. The settled
sediment in the desilting chamber is flushed out through the
silt flushing tunnels (SFT) provided just below the
chamber. An excess flushing discharge of 15 to 20% of the
head race tunnel (HRT) discharge is taken through the
power intake for flushing of sediment. These flushing
tunnels carry the settled sediment laden water upto the
outfall in the river downstream of the dam. Silt flushing
tunnel connect with the desilting chamber through the
openings of designed size and spacing which are provided
at bottom of the chamber.

A. Layout of the individual silt flushing tunnel


Many-a-times the desilting chamber is required to be
divided into multiple units for achieving flexibility in the
operation or for limiting the size of the excavation in the
hills [1]. In the case of Shanan Hydel Project, Himachal
Pradesh, the chamber has been divided into six
compartments for obtaining continuous flow to the power
house with intermittent flushing arrangement for each unit
separately. In case of Chukha, Dul-Hasti and Nathpa Jhakri
Projects, the chambers have been divided into 2, 2 and 4
units respectively, depending upon the discharge and
permissible size of excavation. Similar arrangements has
been done in many other hydro power projects situated in
Himalyan region such as Chamera Stage II and III, Parbati
Stage II & III, Teesta Stage IV & V, Dhauliganga,
Punatsangchhu stage-I & II and Mangdechhu etc.

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International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering


Website: www.ijetae.com (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 3, Issue 12, December 2013)
Layout of flushing tunnels is easier in hydro power
projects where only one or two units of desilting chambers
are provided. When three or more units of desilting
chambers are provided, same number of flushing tunnels
comes out of the desilting chambers and their layout
becomes complicated. The proper site specific layout of
these tunnels is very important in terms of their sediment
transport capacity. The proper alignment of the individual
tunnels is absolute necessity so that these are able to carry
the sediment laden water towards the combined tunnel. The
initial straight reach of the individual flushing tunnels is
kept sufficient so that the hydraulic jump is safely
accommodated inside this straight reach without causing
damage to the walls and top of the tunnels.

B. Cross section of silt flushing tunnel


The cross section of the flushing tunnel is designed such
that the required minimum flushing velocity is maintained
throughout the length. Adequate free board inside the
tunnels is also necessary so that enough space is available
between the water surface and the top surface of the tunnel
to prevent the abrasion/cavitation damage of the tunnels
top surface and locking of air inside.

Photo 1: Original Proposal

C. Slope
To economize the construction, instead of constructing
all the individual flushing tunnels up to the outfall, these
are joined together in a combined tunnel which carries the
sediment laden water up to its outfall. The slope of each of
the individual tunnel as well as the combined tunnel is kept
such that the required flushing velocity is maintained
throughout for sediment disposal and flow should be
supercritical.

Elongated nose
at junctions

D. Junctions of silt flushing tunnel


Sometimes due to maintenance of one unit of desilting
chamber, the discharge through it is stopped by closing the
respective intake gate while other units remain in
continuous operation. Junctions of flushing tunnels should
be designed in such a way that in case of one tunnel not
running, back water effect to this tunnel from the other
tunnel which is in operation is minimum. The velocities at
the junction points and some reaches upstream of junctions
remain very low due to back water effect thus causing
settlement of sediment in this region which is not desirable.
Hence, in order to streamline the flow in forward direction
into combined flushing tunnel, the length of the nose at the
junction may be increased. One example of Tapovan
Vishnugad H.E. Project, Uttarakhand is shown below in
Photo 1 and 2 where the junction was modified based on
the model studies conducted at CWPRS, Pune.

Photo 2: Modified layout of Junctions

E. Location and invert level of outlet


The invert level and location of outfall of combined siltflushing tunnel, carrying sediment laden water from all the
individual tunnels may be modified / finalized based on
model studies to generate adequate velocities for sediment
transport. This can be achieved by lowering or raising the
outfall level for maintaining optimum bed slope of the
whole flushing system.

429

International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering


Website: www.ijetae.com (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 3, Issue 12, December 2013)
III. NECESSITY OF MODEL STUDIES FOR SFT
The silt flushing tunnels carry settled sediment from
desilting chambers and the concentration cannot be known
without conducting model studies for settling efficiency of
the silt particles for desilting chamber. This serves as input
parameter for silt flushing tunnel model studies. The
preliminary design of silt flushing tunnel is based on
empirical formulae and certain assumptions. The manifold
arrangement, junctions of the individual flushing tunnels,
the slope of individual as well as the combined tunnels,
discharge and sediment transport capacity is verified on a
physical model to achieve the best hydraulic design. Many
physical model studies have been conducted at Central
Water & Power Research Station, Pune for various projects
in India and abroad which helped in improving the design
parameters for flushing tunnels and one such case study is
described below.
IV. CASE STUDY FOR TAPOVAN VISHNUGAD
The Tapovan Vishnugad Hydro Electric Project (520
MW) is located on river Dhauliganga in Chamoli district of
Uttarakhand. This is a run-of-river scheme with diurnal
storage and would utilize a net head of water of 481 m. It
will feature a 113 m long and 22 m high barrage across
Dauliganga River with 4 gates and the pondage will have a
maximum depth of 22 m and a live storage depth of 13 m
with a capacity of 0.57 MCM. The intake structure has
been designed for drawing the discharge of 147.18 m3/s
through the head regulator that is connected to four
numbers of desilting basins. The size of the each desilting
basin was proposed as 140 m (L), 16 m (W) and 18.5 (D)
and design discharge for the system is 122.18 m3/s and
flushing discharge is 25 m3/s for four basins. Hydraulic
model studies were conducted for desilting basin [2] which
modified the inlet tunnels and inlet transition and also
reduced the length of the basin. On the basis of these
studies it was found that a 113 m long, 18.5 m deep and 16
m wide desilting basin is adequate for 90% settlement of
particles of 0.2 mm diameter and above. The reported
overall settling efficiency of the desilting basin arrived at
by Camp's criteria worked out to be 63.24%. Hydraulic
model studies were carried out to study the appropriateness
of geometrical configuration of individual as well as
combined silt flushing tunnel (SFT) beyond desilting
chamber for estimating sediment transport capacity [3].

Figure 1: Layout of SFT Original Proposal

The drawings were studied from hydraulics point of


view and it was found that the Froude Number at various
locations along the SFT varies between 1.4 to 1.6. As such,
lowering of the exit portal (at point S7) of the SFT by at
least 1.0 m from EL 1760.5 m to El 1759.5 m was
recommended. This lowering of the exit portal of SFT was
incorporated in the model to obtain favorable hydraulic
conditions particularly at junctions. The layout plan and
cross section are reproduced in figure -1 and 2.

A. Studies for original proposal


The studies were conducted on a 1:15 geometrically
similar scale model as per the drawings received from
project authorities.
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Photo 3 (a): Upstream view of original Proposal

Figure 2: Original Cross Sections of SFT

Four units of the flushing tunnels coming out from end


of the desilting basins and up to the control gates (S1),
manifold arrangement for branch tunnels upto S5 and
combined silt flushing tunnel beyond point S6 were
reproduced in the model as shown in Photo 3 (a & b). The
actual length of combined flushing tunnel beyond point S6
to its outfall into the river is 1546 m. However 200 m
length reproduced in the model was adequate to establish
the flow conditions.
The tunnels were reproduced in polished Kadappa stone
slabs downstream of the control gates and with open top for
visualizing the flow conditions as seen in Photo 3 (a & b).
All the tunnels from end of desilting basin up to control
gates were fabricated in clear transparent Perspex sheets.

Combined SFT
1
4

Photo 3 (b): Downstream view of original Proposal

C. Velocity observations
The discharge equivalent to 25 m3/s equally distributed
in four tunnels was simulated and reservoir water level was
maintained above MDDL on the upstream. It was observed
on the model that 2.5 m depth of individual silt flushing
tunnel as proposed is not adequate to accommodate the
discharge of 6.25 m3/s. Also, to streamline the flow in line
with the flow in combined flushing tunnel, the proposed
layout of the flushing tunnels needs modifications.
Considering these aspects, the depth of individual SFT was
increased from 2.5 m to 3.0 m in the reach 40.0 m to 81.70
m downstream of control gate for SFT No 3 & 4. Similarly
for SFT No 1 & 2 the depth was increased from 2.5 m to
3.0 m in the reach 40.0 m to 69.25 m. Further downstream
of this reach the depth of flushing tunnel was maintained as
3.50 m.

B. Studies for estimation of roughness


The Mannings roughness coefficient n equal to 0.014
was assumed for the design of silt flushing tunnel. Initial
studies were therefore taken up for estimation of
Mannings roughness coefficient n of the combined siltflushing tunnel reproduced in the model.
Based on these model studies values of Mannings
roughness coefficient n in the model were calculated to be
0.00936 and 0.00890, which is equivalent to 0.01433 say
0.14 in the prototype. As such it is seen that the model
roughness is correctly simulated in accordance with the
prototype roughness. The supercritical flow prevails in the
combined silt-flushing tunnel under all operating
conditions.

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International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering


Website: www.ijetae.com (ISSN 2250-2459, ISO 9001:2008 Certified Journal, Volume 3, Issue 12, December 2013)
Accordingly, these modifications at the junctions and
transition were incorporated in the model and are shown in
photo 2, 4 and figure - 3.

The d50 of material used in the model was 0.3 mm as


shown in figure 4. The material was injected at the rate of
0.0370 kg/s in individual tunnel, which was gradually
increased to 0.0463 kg/s. Finally it was seen that 56 kg
material injected in five minutes could be transported
through combined silt flushing tunnel without any
deposition right from control gates to the outfall of the
combined silt flushing tunnel, except a thin layer at the
junctions which also flushed away with a passage of time.
At this rate the concentration of suspended sediment works
out to be 22,150 ppm in model. It was also observed that
when combination of any two flushing tunnels are running,
the back water with depth of about 0.5 to 0.6 m reaches
upto the control gate of other two tunnels.

Transition

Photo 4: Modifications to junctions

D. Studies for modified proposal


The model studies were further conducted with the
above modifications. The velocities were calculated by
running the model for the different combinations such as
two silt-flushing tunnels and all the four tunnels,
running simultaneously. The depth of flow and velocities
were not measurable in the model up to 20 m downstream
of the control gate due to shooting flow. Suitable strong
lining/high performance concrete would be required in the
initial reaches of the silt flushing tunnels to withstand high
velocity flow.
It was seen that the velocity in the flushing tunnels for
different combinations are sufficiently high to transport the
sediment. This was confirmed by injection of adequate
quantity of sediment near the control gate. However, it was
observed that when all four tunnels are running, the
velocities drop down to 0.62 m/s to 0.85 m/s at junctions
(transition) where the width is 6.6 m as shown in figure 3.
E. Sediment transport capacity by Model Studies
While conducting experiments for velocity observation,
the sediment was injected in all the individual tunnels
simultaneously to observe the sediment transporting
capacity of the SFT. For simulation of sediment,
lightweight dry walnut shell powder of sp.gr. 1.32 was used
in the model and discharge equivalent to 25 m3/s was
equally distributed in all four silt flushing tunnels and water
level was maintained above MDDL (EL 1790.50 m).

Figure 3: Modified Layout of SFT

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% Finer

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TABLE I
ESTIMATION OF CONCENTRATION IN SFT

100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

SFT d 50 = 0.3

0.01

0.1

10

Particle Dia (mm)


Figure 4: Gradation of suspended sediment (in model)

Gradation of suspended sediment


100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

33.67

Qty. of sediment in the basin w.r.t.


Inlet concentration (kg/s)
Analytical overall settling
efficiency of desilting basin (%)
Material that will settle in the
desilting basin (kg/s)
Discharge in one silt flushing
tunnel (m3/s)
Concentration in the silt flushing
tunnel (ppm)

168.35

SFT d 50 = 0.2 mm

qs = 0.05
0.01

0.1
1
Particle dia (mm)

5000

63.24
168.36 x 0.6324 =
106.46
6.25
17034 Say 17000

The suspended sediment transporting capacity of


combined flushing tunnel would be of the order of 27600
ppm for the design discharge of 25 m3/s and d50 of 0.2 mm,
using Engelund and Hansen formula [4] as given below:

Inlet d 50 = 0.15

% Finer

Average discharge in one desilting


basin (m3/s)
Inlet concentration (ppm)

10

Figure 5: Gradation of suspended sediment (in model)

F. Sediment transport capacity by Analytical Estimation


The overall settling efficiency of the desilting basin
arrived at by Camp's criteria worked out to be 63.24% as
mentioned in Para IV. On the basis of these results, the
gradation curve of suspended sediment likely to flow
through the silt flushing tunnel was estimated and is shown
in figure 5. With this overall settling efficiency of 63.24%
and the concentration of 5000 ppm at the inlet, the
concentration of suspended sediment in the flushing tunnel
would be of the order of 17000 ppm as shown in table I.
The slope of the combined flushing tunnel is 1:127.24
and super critical flow prevails in the flushing tunnel under
all operating conditions. As such direct estimation of
sediment transport capacity was not possible. In view of
this, as an initial approximation, sub critical flow with
Froude No. 0.88 was assumed to prevail in the flushing
tunnel with the present conditions. With this assumption,
the depth of flow worked out to be 2.09 m in the combined
silt flushing tunnel for discharge of 25 m3/s.

V2

d 50

s
(
g
1

)d 50

3/ 2

Where;

V
g

= Unit weight of sediment;


= Unit weight of water;
= Forward velocity of flow;
= Acceleration due to gravity;
= Shear stress.

This equation is dimensionally homogeneous and can be


solved by using any set of homogeneous units. It may be
mentioned here that Engelund-Hansen formula is not
applicable for super critical flows. However, as the flow in
the combined SFT is super critical the sediment transport
capacity would be much more than that with sub critical
flow. Similar calculations were made for the model
parameters and the material used in the model and it would
be seen that sediment-transporting capacity of the
combined silt flushing tunnel in the model would be of the
order of 16250 ppm.

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As mentioned earlier the sediment transporting capacity
of the flushing tunnel observed in the model is of the order
of 22,150 ppm, which is much more than estimated
capacity of 16250 ppm. Hence, it is expected that the
sediment transporting capacity of the flushing tunnel in
prototype would be more than 27,600 ppm against the
estimated concentration of 17000 ppm with the proposed
bed slope of 1 in 127.24 and n = 0.014.

V. DISCUSSIONS
The analytical results for the prototype and that for the
model are as follows:
TABLE II
ESTIMATION OF SEDIMENT TRANSPORT CAPACITY

Parameter

Prototype

Model

Flushing discharge for


four units (m3/s)

25.0

0.0287

Width of tunnel (m)

3.0

0.2

Slope (assumed for


calculations)

1 in 267.88

1 in 267.88

Froude number

0.88

0.88

Mannings roughness
coefficient n

0.014

0.0089

Velocity (m/s)

3.987

1.030

Shear stress (kg/m2)

3.2598

0.2173

d50 of material (mm)

0.2

0.3

VI. CONCLUSIONS
Based on the case study mentioned in this paper, it was
concluded that the hydraulic design was improved by
testing various alternatives and combinations such as
increase in depth of individual flushing tunnel, provision of
transition in combined SFT, modifications in junctions and
lowering of exit portal. The designed layout of the silt
flushing tunnels, if tested on a physical model helps in
evolving a better hydraulic design thus improving the
sediment carrying capacity. The deposition of sediment at
critical points is observed in the model and the layout, cross
section and the slope of the flushing tunnels can be
modified accordingly.
Acknowledgements

Sediment Transport
27587 Say
16250 Say
capacity (ppm)
27600
16250
(By Engelund and
Hansen
formula)
From
table
2, it would be seen that if the slope of the
combined silt flushing tunnel would have been 1 in 267.88
against the provided slope of 1 in 127.24, the flow in the
silt flushing tunnel would be sub-critical with Froude No.
0.88 and the velocity would be of the order of 3.987 m/s
where the flow attains the normal depth. With these
conditions, the sediment transport capacity of the combined
flushing tunnel works out to be of 27,600 ppm for
prototype parameters and 16250 ppm for model
parameters.
Whereas, the slope provided in combined silt flushing
tunnel is 1 in 127.24 and supercritical flow prevails in the
flushing tunnel.

The authors sincerely thank Mr. S. Govindan, Director,


CWPRS for constant encouragement, guidance and kind
permission for publishing this paper. The authors are also
thankful to the various project authorities for providing the
necessary financial support and data for conducting the
model studies.
REFERENCES
[1]
[2]

[3]

[4]

434

CWPRS: Guidelines for Design of Desilting Basins (Pressure


Flow), 2005.
CWPRS Technical Report No. 4659 of October 2009 Hydraulic
Model Studies for desilting basin for Tapovan Vishnugad H.E.
Project, Uttarakhand.
CWPRS Technical Report No. 4687 of January 2010 Hydraulic
Model Studies for Silt Flushing Tunnel beyond desilting chamber for
Tapovan Vishnugad H.E. Project, Uttarakhand.
Morris, Gregory and Fan, Jiahua. 1997. Handbook of Reservoir
Sedimentation. McGraw Hill Book Co. New York.