physical modeling laboratory

NHC's physical modeling professionals have assisted clients around the world in developing innovative solutions to complex hydraulic problems. Physical hydraulic modeling is a hands-on, practical approach to developing effective engineering designs and conducting applied hydraulic research. Through an interactive and collaborative physical modeling approach, our clients actively participate in the design process, which gives them confidence in the future performance of their projects. This up-front collaboration often results in significant construction and operation cost savings, as well as expedited project schedules.

British Columbia:
Ken Christison
Tom Demlow
Gary Van Der Vinne
Ed Wallace
Brent Wolfe
Marc Villeneuve

Our success in physical hydraulic modeling results from the capabilities and extensive experience of our senior modeling specialists, our ability to develop innovative solutions to complex hydraulic problems using modeling as a design-aid tool, and our commitment to continually improving the technology used in our modeling operations. Applied research performed in our laboratories has resulted in innovations in hydraulic structure design, improved techniques for analyzing fluid behavior, and development of laboratory technologies that increase the value of modeling as a design and analytical tool.

We have earned a reputation for excellence through our work on a broad range of project types throughout North America and around the world, including dams and reservoirs, power generation, water supply and water treatment, municipal infrastructure, river processes, fish passage, natural hazards, and coastal developments.


NHC has successfully completed hundreds of physical model studies since our inception in 1972, providing the following services:

  • Development, refinement, and verification of hydraulic designs
  • Witness testing and demonstrations for project stakeholders
  • Hydraulic performance rating
  • Simulation of hydraulic structures and natural systems
  • Experimental research and development of hydraulic devices and processes

With NHC's in-house expertise in related areas, including advanced numerical modeling, field data collection services, hydrology, sedimentation, and hydraulic design, we are able to provide our clients with integrated solutions for their water resource projects.


Resources & Facilities:

NHC physical modeling personnel include individuals with years of physical modeling experience gained in academia, government service, and private practice. They are supported by a team of engineers and technicians who have extensive experience designing, constructing, operating, and testing hydraulic models for a wide range of applications. We have extensive experience and the specialized facilities that are required to construct and test large river models, including those with mobile boundaries.

NHC's physical hydraulic modeling operation, with laboratories at our Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal, and Seattle locations, totals more than 70,000 square feet of space. We are the largest commercial hydraulic laboratory operation in Canada and western North America. We have accommodated models as large as 300 ft by 100 ft, and have the ability to generate model flows in excess of 100 cubic feet per second (cfs).

Our laboratories include fully-equipped workshops for model fabrication, electronics and instrumentation shops for development of model control and data acquisition systems, and facilities for velocity probe calibration. Instrumentation includes 1-D, 2-D, and 3-D velocity probes, video-imaging systems for detailed characterization of flow fields, capacitance water-level probes, point gages, laser-scan bed profilers, accelerometers, total dissolved gas (TDG) meters, fluorometers, anemometers, and computer-based data acquisition systems.


Selected Project Experience: