American Society of Civil Engineers

Flow around Cylinders in Open Channels

by M. A. F. Sadeque, (Grad. Student, Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Canada T6G 2W2. E-mail:, N. Rajaratnam, (corresponding author), F.ASCE, (Prof. Emeritus, Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Canada T6G 2W2 E-mail:, and M. R. Loewen, (Prof., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2W2. E-mail:

Journal of Engineering Mechanics, Vol. 134, No. 1, January 2008, pp. 60-71, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: This paper presents the results of an experimental study of flow around cylindrical objects in an open channel. Cylindrical objects of equal diameter and four heights were tested under similar flow conditions producing four different levels of submergence, including a surface piercing bridge-pier-like cylinder. Different flow elements and their locations were identified using a set of flow visualization tests. Observations made from the flow visualization tests were then verified by measurements of bed-shear stress and deflected flow velocity around the cylinders. Horse-shoe vortex systems were found to appear closer to the submerged cylinders compared to a surface piercing cylinder. The increase in dimensionless bed-shear stress is found to be inversely related to the level of submergence of the cylinders. Bed-shear stress results presented in this paper will be valuable for a qualitative understanding of the scour potential of flow around submerged cylinders. Mean velocity profiles in the deflected flow region were analyzed in terms of the theories of three-dimensional turbulent boundary layer. Submergence of a cylinder has been found to suppress alternate vortex shedding and produce stronger three-dimensional flows in the downstream wake. Perry and Joubert’s model was found to be sufficiently accurate to predict the deflected velocity magnitudes around submerged cylinders. Overall, the present study will provide valuable knowledge of hydraulics of flow around submerged structures (e.g., simple fish habitat structures).

ASCE Subject Headings:
Open channel flow
Boundary layers
Flow visualization
Shear stress
Fish management