Computational Fluid Dynamics/3D Hydraulic Modeling

« Return to Project Search

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD), also known as three-dimensional (3D) hydraulic modeling, is a practical way to predict and visualize how water flows in real-world conditions. CFD solves fundamental flow equations that describe how physical laws govern fluid motion. CFD provides detail and insight that one-dimensional (1D) and two-dimensional (2D) hydraulic models cannot deliver by resolving the flow in three directions. Using CFD, we can deliver the practical benefits of physical modeling in a reasonable time and budget.

1D and 2D hydraulic models are effective tools for large-scale, hydraulically straightforward applications. However, 2D modeling is not the best solution for certain complex hydraulic problems. In these cases, designers have historically either accepted undefined hydraulic uncertainty or have used physical modeling. High uncertainty requires conservative (potentially overbuilt) designs, or it could result in underperforming solutions. Physical models can be reliable but are often prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. CFD provides a tool to reduce risk and uncertainty while allowing us to deliver effective design solutions and cost savings for these complex hydraulic problems.

CFD is versatile for use in many applications, including:

  • Dam structures

  • Aquatic organism passage

  • River features

  • Stormwater structures

  • Sediment transport and scour

  • Stormwater best management practice devices

  • Water treatment tanks and processes

  • Wastewater treatment systems

  • Decision-making demonstrations

Project Information

Client's Name

Various Clients


Fort Collins, CO

Primary Service

River Engineering + Water Resources


Local Government