Assessment of interfacial turbulence treatment models for free surface flows

Pengxu Zou, Taeksang Kim, Jeremy D. Bricker*, Wim S.J. Uijttewaal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The modelling of complex free surface flows is challenging due to the mobility and deformability of the interface and air entrainment characteristics, which are highly affected by turbulence. With the framework of Reynolds averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) models and the volume of fluid (VOF) method, turbulence quantities at the air–water interface tend to be over-estimated. In this study, interfacial turbulence treatment methods including the buoyancy modification model based on the simple gradient diffusion hypothesis (SGDH) and Egorov’s turbulence damping model are investigated. Furthermore, due to the unconditionally unstable characteristics of the standard k-ε turbulence model, the stabilized k-ε turbulence model is applied as a comparison. The turbulence attenuation performance using different interfacial turbulence treatment methods in the vicinity of the interface is compared and discussed for stratified flows and free overflow weirs for aerated and non-aerated nappe scenarios. The turbulence quantities and free surface profile under different flow conditions are validated against experimental data and an analytical model. The results show that for free surface waves, both the SGDH model and the turbulence damping model give strong improvements in turbulence production compared with the standard k-ε model. The SGDH model augments the turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) in the unstable stratification, leading to unphysical behaviour for the partially dispersed and separated flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-667
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydraulic Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Air entrainment
  • buoyancy modification
  • CFD
  • free overflow weirs
  • free surface flows
  • turbulence damping

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