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Demonstrating Reservoir Routing In The Classroom: Physical And Mathematical Modeling

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

CE Rap Session and Toys in the Classroom

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.361.1 - 7.361.11



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Paper Authors

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James Kilduff

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu SESSION 1815

Demonstrating Reservoir Routing in the Classroom: Physical and Mathematical Modeling

James Kilduff, Assistant Professor

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY 12180

1.0 Introduction

Reservoir routing is a fundamental topic in engineering hydrology, with applications to flood routing and detention basin design, among others. It is an excellent vehicle for demonstrating basic principles of mass balance, and topics in applied hydraulics (e.g., stage- discharge relationships). In the context of mass balance, reservoir routing provides a focus on the fluid itself, without the complications of multiple transport mechanisms that may control the fluxes of dissolved or suspended chemical constituents. Students often have difficulty with mass balance concepts – relating mass accumulation in a system to inflow and outflow. In reservoir design applications, it is necessary to visualize the relationships among the inflow hydrograph, the outflow hydrograph (as governed by changes in the water surface elevation over time and the hydraulic characteristics of the chosen control structure), and reservoir storage volume (as governed by the water surface elevation and reservoir surface area). A physical bench-scale in- class demonstration using a model reservoir was designed to help students visualize these relationships and develop a deeper understanding of mass balance principles. The model was used to separately demonstrate how to measure elevation-storage and stage-discharge relationships. The scale of the model makes it suitable for real-time, in-class demonstrations and experiments. All required equipment fits on a standard laboratory cart, and can be easily transported to the classroom.

A second objective of the model reservoir was to provide a system of sufficient simplicity to allow mathematical modeling. If a step function is used for the inflow hydrograph, and a vessel having a regular shape is used for the reservoir (e.g., cylinder), the differential mass balance equations can be integrated directly. It has been the author’s experience that students find the process of mathematically modeling physical systems quite challenging. One reason is that students seem to have few opportunities to apply the concepts learned in calculus to systems that are real, but simple enough to allow successful application of undergraduate-level mathematics. A second reason stems from the fact that students often have difficulty visualizing the system being modeled. The bench scale system developed here provides an opportunity for such visualization, and facilitates generation of data appropriate for subsequent modeling using either numerical or analytical approaches to solve the governing differential equations.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education Main Menu

Kilduff, J. (2002, June), Demonstrating Reservoir Routing In The Classroom: Physical And Mathematical Modeling Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11080

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