Hydralab IV

The co-ordinated and integrated approach of HYDRALAB aims at structuring the access to unique and costly hydraulic and ice engineering research infrastructures in the European Research Area. The network of HYDRALAB is unique in the hydraulic research community and has large experience in co-operating since its start in 1997. It began by informing and co-ordinating the activities of the partners in HYDRALAB I and II, and via strong collaboration in HYDRALAB III and further integration of our research services in Europe in HYDRALAB IV. Over the course of 10 years our network has grown from 8 participants in 1997 to a total of 30 partners and associated partners from 15 countries today.

Research in our infrastructures deals with complex questions regarding the interaction of water with environmental elements, sediment, structures and ice and goes beyond just hydraulic research: Hydralab IV adopted the theme More than water, with the following elements:

  • Water and environmental elements (focusing on ecology and biology)
  • Water and sediment
  • Water and structures
  • Water and ice

Questions that were answered deal with e.g. the development of adaptive strategies to climate change and sustainable measures against natural hazards, like floods.

A fully integrated and balanced ensemble of Networking Activities, Joint Research Activities and Transnational Access Activities enhanced the operation of our infrastructures and their instrumentation facilities beyond the present state-of-the-art and identifies potential future developments. An example of our Networking Activities were our dissemination events, with which we fostered a culture of co-operation between the participants and the wider user community.

The Joint Research Activities focussed on improving the capabilities of the experimental facilities, the research methods and instrumentation.

The Transnational Access Activities enabled international groups of researchers from across Europe to use our rare and unique experimental facilities which they normally do not have access to, and thus enhancing the coherence of the European research community. By means of the common User Selection Procedure optimal access wass guaranteed for these international research groups.

Further objectives of HYDRALAB IV were to improve access to experimental data, by providing researchers with a database on results of experiments, and bringing young researchers and first time users from across Europe to the cutting edge of experimental research.

Moreover we provided the European Community periodically with a comparison between the scientific needs for access against the availability and an inventory of relevant Infrastructure available in Europe.

Hydralab Transnational Access

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HYDRALAB is an Integrated Infrastructure Initiative, financially supported by the EC, to optimise the use of unique facilities for laboratory experiments in the field of Hydraulics, Geophysical Hydrodynamics, Environmental Fluid Dynamics and Ice Engineering. One of the three main activities of Hydralab was enabling international groups of researchers to conduct hydraulic research in selected large and unique facilities, which is called ‘transnational access’. Ten partners within Hydralab participated in this programme by making their facilities available to external user groups:

  • Deltares, the Netherlands (Delta Flume and Schelde Flume)
  • Leibniz University Hannover, Germany (Large Wave Flume)
  • CNRS, France (Stratified Water Flume and Coriolis table)
  • HSVA, Germany (Arctic Environmental Test Basin and Large Ice Model Basin)
  • Marintek, Norway (Ocean Basin)
  • NTNU, Norway (Sletvik Field Station)
  • Aalto University, Finland (Ice Tank)
  • Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain (CIEM)
  • DHI, Denmark (Offshore Wave Basin and Shallow Water Basin)
  • University of Hull, England (Total Environment Simulator)

The objective of this programme was to stimulate co-operation between European researchers by providing the opportunity to undertake novel research in unique hydraulic experimental facilities which they do not normally have access to. One focus of Hydralab IV was to demonstrate that laboratory experiments in hydraulics go beyond understanding simply the flow or movement of water. To address this idea of ‘More than water’, research groups were invited through open calls to submit proposals that addressed one of these four themes:

  • Water and environmental elements (focusing on ecology and biology)
  • Water and sediment
  • Water and structures
  • Water and ice

An international group of independent experts reviewed all the proposals and selected the best which were then granted access to the facilities.

 SletvikNTNU HSVA k2 
Leibniz University Hannover       NTNU, Trondheim                             HSVA, Hamburg

The programme provided groups of researchers with access, free of charge, to the facilities for the duration of their research project and also covered their travel and subsistence costs. The programme was intended for short access periods, not exceeding 3 months. State-of-the-art measuring instruments, data-acquisition and processing systems were at their disposal, as well as a supportive research environment, from access to facilities through to assistance and guidance from experts at the host institute. Previous background in laboratory methods and techniques was not a prerequisite with all the necessary technical support and training being provided by the host institute.
platform_basinProjet Coriolis II
          Marintek, Trondheim                          CNRS, Grenoble                    Deltares, Netherlands

Project selection procedure
A common user selection procedure (USP) was followed throughout Hydralab IV to select the best projects to be granted access to the facilities. The proposals for access projects were firstly reviewed by the facility provider to check their feasibility. The facility provider then supported the proposers (User Groups) while they improved their draft proposals to compensate their lack of experiences with the facilities. This was of particular benefit to first-time users.

The Access proposals for the various Infrastructures in the same field (e.g. Hydraulics, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics or Ice Engineering) were selected in 3 common sessions of a joint USP-meeting, thus achieving an optimal and co-ordinated access for the various Infrastructures and User Groups. Each User Selection Panel consisted of 4 to 8 independent members, and a minority of dependent members coming from one of the HYDRALAB Participants. Representatives of the facility providers were present at each User Selection Panel meeting with an advisory role only.

For the acceptance of a proposal, a majority agreement of the USP-members was required in addition to the confirmation of the relevant facility manager that the research was feasible in their specific installation. Sometimes the possibility of moving a project to another facility within HYDRALAB was discussed by the User Selection Panel, where this may have enabled better utilisation of resources.

 ice basin 
     UPC, Barcelona             Aalto University, Helsinki                         CNRS, Toulouse