Horizontal bar racks have been used as trash racks at hydropower plants since the 1920s. With the installation of the first horizontal bar rack bypass system at a hydropower plant as a downstream fish passage facility in 2006, these racks rapidly gained importance as fish protection measures. Since then, they have been installed at more than 100 small- to medium-sized hydropower plants in Europe. Despite the large number of installed racks, systematic investigations of the head losses and velocity fields were missing. On the basis of detailed hydraulic experimentation with a large number of rack parameters and including up-to-date foil-shaped bars, the layout of horizontal bar racks and their hydraulic performance were assessed in the current study. This paper reports the results of the rack head loss investigation, whereas the accompanying paper entitled Velocity Fields at Horizontal Bar Racks as Fish Guidance Structures focuses on the up- and downstream velocity fields. By applying foil-shaped bars instead of rectangular bars, the loss coefficient was reduced by more than 40%, depending on the rack configuration. Bottom and top overlays are used to increase the guidance efficiency for fish, sediments, and floating debris. However, the altered flow field results in increased head losses. A new set of equations is proposed to predict head losses for current horizontal bar racks, including overlays for various hydropower plant layouts. The predictions are compared to literature data.
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