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Velocity Profile in Open Channel Flow

In open channel flow, the velocity is not constant with depth. It increases from zero
at the invert of the channel to a maximum value close to the water surface.

v3

v2
Depth

v1

Velocity

The velocity difference results from the resistance to flow at the bottom and sides of
the channel. The shearing stress, τ, at any point in a turbulent flow moving over a
solid surface has been given by Prandtl as

2
2  dv 
τ = ργ
 dy 

where ρ is the density of water and γ is a characteristic mixing length.

In the region near the solid surface, Prandtl made two assumptions:

1. The mixing length is proportional to y (γ=0.4y)

2. The shear stress is constant (τ0)

Applying these assumptions to the above equation

τ dy
dv = 2.5 ρ0 y
τ y
v = 2.5 ρ0 ln y (1)
0
where y0 is the height up to which the velocity is zero. τ0 can be evaluated by
considering the forces acting on a flow section.

h
h-dh v

dx
datum

Net hydrostatic force : -ρgdh


Shear force : -τ0Pdx

F = ma a = v dv
dx

− ρgAdh − τ 0 Pdx = ρAdx.v dv


dx

v dv  = −ρgR d  h + v 2 
⇒ τ 0 = −ρgR  dh + g
dx dx  dx  2g 

τ0
ρ = −gRi = v 2

where i is the slope of the energy line.

The quantity expressed by v* has the units of velocity and is known as the friction
velocity or the shear velocity.
In turbulent flow, y 0 ≈
κ where κ is the Nikuradse sand roughness.
33
Substituting for τ0 and κ in equation 1 yields:

33y
v = v ∗ 2.5 ln κ

The average velocity is given by

d
∫ vdy d
33y
2.5v ∗
d ∫0
v= 0
= ln κ dy
d

v = 2.5V ∗ ln 12.14d
κ

 12.14d
v =  2.5 ln κ  1 1
g  R2i2

This theoretical equation can be compared with empirical equations that have been
developed to express the mean velocity in an open channel:

Chezy Equation
1 1
v = CR 2 i 2

⇒ C = 2.5 ln 12.14d
κ g

Errors can arise in applying the Chezy equation over a wide range of depth since the
constant is actually a function of depth
Manning Equation

 1.49R 6  12 12
1

v = 1.49
2 1
3i2 =
n R  n R i
 

1 1

⇒ 1.49R
6
≈ 1.49d 6 = 2.5 ln 12.14d g
n n κ
The changes in the coefficient with changes in depth is reflected in this equation. It
seems to be more suitable if n can be determined with some accuracy.

Uniform Flow
Uniform flow is flow in which the flow depth does not vary. In other words, the
water surface profile is parallel to the channel bed. Although this scenario rarely
occurs, it is a reasonable approximation for the flow in open channels that are
devoid of controls. The governing equations will now be derived.

H=E+z

dH = dE + dz = dd • dE + dz
dl dl dl dl dd dl

−i = dd  1 − V  − s
2

dl  gD 

⇒ dd = s −Vi2 = s − i 2
dl 1 − 1 − Fr
gD
If the flow is uniform then
dd = 0
dl
Therefore, in uniform flow, s is equal to i. In other words, the slope of the water
surface profile is equal to the slope of the energy line, which is also equal to the
slope of the channel bed. The velocity and the depth at uniform flow can be
obtained by replacing i in the Manning Equation with s.

v n = 1.49
1
3
n R n s 2

Q = 1.49
1
3
A
n n n R s 2

5
Qn
⇒ PnRn = 3
1
1.49s 2
where the subscript (n) indicates that flow is occurring at normal (uniform)
conditions. Both the wetted perimeter and the hydraulic radius are functions of the
depth that depend on channel geometry.