Stepped spillways are frequently limited to specific discharges under around 30 m2
/s due to concerns about potential cavitation damages. A small air concentration can prevent such damages and the design of bottom aerators is well established for smooth chutes. The purpose of this study is to systematically investigate the performance of a deflector aerator at the beginning of stepped chutes. Six parameters (chute angle, step height, approach flow depth, approach flow Froude number, deflector angle and deflector height) are varied in a physical model. The spatial air concentration distribution downstream of the aerator, the cavity sub-pressure, water discharge and air discharges are measured. The results describe the commonly used air entrainment coefficient, the jet length, as well as the average and bottom air concentration development to design an aerator. The lowest bottom air concentration measured in all tests is higher than the air concentration recommended in literature to protect against cavitation damages. And, unlike smooth chutes, there appears to be no significant air detrainment downstream of the jet impact. One deflector aerator seems therefore sufficient to provide protection of a stepped spillway.
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