Scale-model testing hosted at Coastal Engineering Lab

Posted on April 25, 2016

Queen's engineering research facilities help bring Ontario energy plan to fruition

Scale-model rig

This photo is from last week at the Queen’s Coastal Engineering Laboratory. What you see there is a 1:25 scale model of proposed improvements to the Ranney Falls Generation Station on the Trent River at Campbellford, Ontario.

Scale-model rig 2

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) officials, industry representatives and researchers from Ryerson University gathered at Queen’s to study water levels, velocities, and structural vibrations under different operation modes of the proposed powerhouse and tailrace tunnel.

The plan for the Ranney Falls project is to modernize old equipment and double the generating capacity of the station. It’s an investment in sustainable, clean energy. The hydraulic research facility at the Coastal Engineering Laboratory at Queen's is one of the only places in the country engineers can conduct physical scale-model studies for structures like these. That makes it a valuable resource for industry professionals, researchers and educators from across the continent.

Scale-model rig

Ryerson University engineering professor James Li and Queen's engineering professor Ana Maria da Silva (second and third from left) with some of their graduate students and support staff. 

OPG commissioned Ryerson University engineering professor James Li to conduct the testing. Queen’s civil engineering professor Ana Maria da Silva provided access to Queen’s facilities, liaised with the visiting groups and offered access to technical support.

“We are very happy and grateful to have this project here,” said da Silva as she welcomed the group. “It has been a very successful and also an extremely pleasant collaboration.”

A little more detail from Professor Li's invitation....

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is proposing an expansion to add a third generating unit and double the hydroelectric capacity at the Ranney Falls Generation Station, located near the Trent River of Campbellford, Ontario.  This unique project is part of the OPG renewable energy initiatives.  The limited space and site characteristics are posing technical challenges.  In order to overcome some of the hydraulic challenges at the site, Ontario Power Generation has commissioned Prof. James Li (Ryerson Urban Water) and sub-contractor Shelley Kuan (Cole Engineering Ltd.) to conduct a physical scale model study of the Ranney Falls’ G3 Hydroelectric Powerhouse and Tailrace Channel. 

The model study focuses on the hydraulic characteristics at the entrances and exits of the powerhouse and tailrace channel and the structural vibrations due to tailrace channel gate operation to the turbine and housing structure.  Prof. Ana Maria da Silva (Queen’s University) enabled the use of the Queen’s hydraulic research facility and provided the associated technical support for the physical model study.  A 1:25 scale model (about 13 m by 4 m by 1.5 m) was constructed by Ryerson and Cole Engineering and is being used to collect water levels, velocities, and structural vibrations under different operation modes of the powerhouse and tailrace tunnel.  This research is one of the largest physical model study of hydroelectric power generation in Ontario and demonstrates the excellent collaboration among universities, consulting engineering companies, and OPG. 

A demonstration of the testing scenarios for OPG and WSP Canada Ltd (Engineering Design and Construction Supervision for the generating station expansion) will be held at the Queen’s Hydraulic Laboratory on April 20, 2016.  Interested parties can contact Prof. James Li (jyli[at] for information.