In this paper, we use the parallel open source code parallelSPHysics based on the weakly compressible Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (WCSPH) approach to study a spillway flow over stepped stairs. SPH is a robust mesh-free particle modelling technique and has great potential in treating the free surfaces in spillway hydraulics. A laboratory experiment is carried out for the different flow discharges and spillway step geometries. The physical model is constructed from a prototype reservoir dam in the practical field. During the experiment, flow discharge over the weir crest, free surface, velocity and pressure profiles along the spillway are measured. In the present SPH study, a straightforward push-paddle model is used to generate the steady inflow discharge in front of the weir. The parallelSPHysics model is first validated by a documented benchmark case of skimming flow over a stepped spillway. Subsequently, it is used to reproduce a laboratory experiment based on a prototype hydraulic dam project located in Qinghai Province, China. The detailed comparisons are made on the pressure profiles on the steps between the SPH results and experimental data. The energy dissipation features of the flows under different flow conditions are also discussed. It is shown that the pressure on the horizontal face of the steps demonstrates an S-shape, while on the vertical face it is negative on the upper part and positive on the lower part. The energy dissipation efficiency of the spillway could reach nearly 80%.
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