SAFL offers two types of modeling capabilities:

  • Physical modeling takes advantage of our indoor facilities as well as our Outdoor StreamLab channels. 
  • Computational modeling takes advantage of our high performance computing clusters and in-house expertise in commercially available and SAFL-developed fluid dynamics code.                                        

Physical Modeling

SAFL was built with physical modeling in mind. In developing physical models, we strive to understand the fundamental nature of a specific problem and then determine the scaling basis so it can be tested in a laboratory setting. Scaling goes beyond simply making a miniature version of something. We take into account all the factors, such as scaling the water or airflow and stresses in the flow, so that they can match field conditions. The research flow typically involves understanding the problem, designing and constructing a model, validating the model, testing and collecting data, and finally reporting.


Typical Projects
Scale modeling projects include:

  • Hydraulic river models
  • Navigation models
  • Bridge scour
  • Turbine and pump intakes
  • Lift stations
  • Hydraulic structures like dams, spillways, and dikes
  • River restoration
  • Wind engineering
  • Fish passage through hydraulic structures
  • Hydrokinetic energy capture technologies


  • Private groups and agencies
  • Local and state government agencies
  • Private developers


Computational Modeling
Computational models allow for a more detailed understanding of dynamics, such as flow field and stress distribution, than is achievable in physical laboratory models. At the same time, computational models should be carefully validated using laboratory data to ensure accurate results. Once validated, computational models can be used to simulate a broader range of scenarios than is possible with physical models.

Typical Projects

  • Energy research on hydrokinetic devices
  • Wind turbines
  • Wind farms
  • Scour around bridge piers
  • Intake models for turbines
  • Flow inside stormwater treatment devices and other areas


  • Private groups and agencies
  • Local, state and federal government agencies
  • Private developers