Predicting solid-state phase transformations during metal additive manufacturing: A case study on electron-beam powder bed fusion of Inconel-738

Predicting solid-state phase transformations during metal additive manufacturing: A case study on electron-beam powder bed fusion of Inconel-738

금속 적층 제조 중 고체 상 변형 예측: Inconel-738의 전자빔 분말층 융합에 대한 사례 연구

Nana Kwabena Adomako a, Nima Haghdadi a, James F.L. Dingle bc, Ernst Kozeschnik d, Xiaozhou Liao bc, Simon P. Ringer bc, Sophie Primig a


Metal additive manufacturing (AM) has now become the perhaps most desirable technique for producing complex shaped engineering parts. However, to truly take advantage of its capabilities, advanced control of AM microstructures and properties is required, and this is often enabled via modeling. The current work presents a computational modeling approach to studying the solid-state phase transformation kinetics and the microstructural evolution during AM. Our approach combines thermal and thermo-kinetic modelling. A semi-analytical heat transfer model is employed to simulate the thermal history throughout AM builds. Thermal profiles of individual layers are then used as input for the MatCalc thermo-kinetic software. The microstructural evolution (e.g., fractions, morphology, and composition of individual phases) for any region of interest throughout the build is predicted by MatCalc. The simulation is applied to an IN738 part produced by electron beam powder bed fusion to provide insights into how γ′ precipitates evolve during thermal cycling. Our simulations show qualitative agreement with our experimental results in predicting the size distribution of γ′ along the build height, its multimodal size character, as well as the volume fraction of MC carbides. Our findings indicate that our method is suitable for a range of AM processes and alloys, to predict and engineer their microstructures and properties.

Graphical Abstract



Additive manufacturing, Simulation, Thermal cycles, γ′ phase, IN738

1. Introduction

Additive manufacturing (AM) is an advanced manufacturing method that enables engineering parts with intricate shapes to be fabricated with high efficiency and minimal materials waste. AM involves building up 3D components layer-by-layer from feedstocks such as powder [1]. Various alloys, including steel, Ti, Al, and Ni-based superalloys, have been produced using different AM techniques. These techniques include directed energy deposition (DED), electron- and laser powder bed fusion (E-PBF and L-PBF), and have found applications in a variety of industries such as aerospace and power generation [2][3][4]. Despite the growing interest, certain challenges limit broader applications of AM fabricated components in these industries and others. One of such limitations is obtaining a suitable and reproducible microstructure that offers the desired mechanical properties consistently. In fact, the AM as-built microstructure is highly complex and considerably distinctive from its conventionally processed counterparts owing to the complicated thermal cycles arising from the deposition of several layers upon each other [5][6].

Several studies have reported that the solid-state phases and solidification microstructure of AM processed alloys such as CMSX-4, CoCr [7][8], Ti-6Al-4V [9][10][11]IN738 [6]304L stainless steel [12], and IN718 [13][14] exhibit considerable variations along the build direction. For instance, references [9][10] have reported that there is a variation in the distribution of α and β phases along the build direction in Ti-alloys. Similarly, the microstructure of an L-PBF fabricated martensitic steel exhibits variations in the fraction of martensite [15]. Furthermore, some of the present authors and others [6][16][17][18][19][20] have recently reviewed and reported that there is a difference in the morphology and fraction of nanoscale precipitates as a function of build height in Ni-based superalloys. These non-uniformities in the as-built microstructure result in an undesired heterogeneity in mechanical and other important properties such as corrosion and oxidation [19][21][22][23]. To obtain the desired microstructure and properties, additional processing treatments are utilized, but this incurs extra costs and may lead to precipitation of detrimental phases and grain coarsening. Therefore, a through-process understanding of the microstructure evolution under repeated heating and cooling is now needed to further advance 3D printed microstructure and property control.

It is now commonly understood that the microstructure evolution during printing is complex, and most AM studies concentrate on the microstructure and mechanical properties of the final build only. Post-printing studies of microstructure characteristics at room temperature miss crucial information on how they evolve. In-situ measurements and modelling approaches are required to better understand the complex microstructural evolution under repeated heating and cooling. Most in-situ measurements in AM focus on monitoring the microstructural changes, such as phase transformations and melt pool dynamics during fabrication using X-ray scattering and high-speed X-ray imaging [24][25][26][27]. For example, Zhao et al. [25] measured the rate of solidification and described the α/β phase transformation during L-PBF of Ti-6Al-4V in-situ. Also, Wahlmann et al. [21] recently used an L-PBF machine coupled with X-ray scattering to investigate the changes in CMSX-4 phase during successive melting processes. Although these techniques provide significant understanding of the basic principles of AM, they are not widely accessible. This is due to the great cost of the instrument, competitive application process, and complexities in terms of the experimental set-up, data collection, and analysis [26][28].

Computational modeling techniques are promising and more widely accessible tools that enable advanced understanding, prediction, and engineering of microstructures and properties during AM. So far, the majority of computational studies have concentrated on physics based process models for metal AM, with the goal of predicting the temperature profile, heat transfer, powder dynamics, and defect formation (e.g., porosity) [29][30]. In recent times, there have been efforts in modeling of the AM microstructure evolution using approaches such as phase-field [31], Monte Carlo (MC) [32], and cellular automata (CA) [33], coupled with finite element simulations for temperature profiles. However, these techniques are often restricted to simulating the evolution of solidification microstructures (e.g., grain and dendrite structure) and defects (e.g., porosity). For example, Zinovieva et al. [33] predicted the grain structure of L-PBF Ti-6Al-4V using finite difference and cellular automata methods. However, studies on the computational modelling of the solid-state phase transformations, which largely determine the resulting properties, remain limited. This can be attributed to the multi-component and multi-phase nature of most engineering alloys in AM, along with the complex transformation kinetics during thermal cycling. This kind of research involves predictions of the thermal cycle in AM builds, and connecting it to essential thermodynamic and kinetic data as inputs for the model. Based on the information provided, the thermokinetic model predicts the history of solid-state phase microstructure evolution during deposition as output. For example, a multi-phase, multi-component mean-field model has been developed to simulate the intermetallic precipitation kinetics in IN718 [34] and IN625 [35] during AM. Also, Basoalto et al. [36] employed a computational framework to examine the contrasting distributions of process-induced microvoids and precipitates in two Ni-based superalloys, namely IN718 and CM247LC. Furthermore, McNamara et al. [37] established a computational model based on the Johnson-Mehl-Avrami model for non-isothermal conditions to predict solid-state phase transformation kinetics in L-PBF IN718 and DED Ti-6Al-4V. These models successfully predicted the size and volume fraction of individual phases and captured the repeated nucleation and dissolution of precipitates that occur during AM.

In the current study, we propose a modeling approach with appreciably short computational time to investigate the detailed microstructural evolution during metal AM. This may include obtaining more detailed information on the morphologies of phases, such as size distribution, phase fraction, dissolution and nucleation kinetics, as well as chemistry during thermal cycling and final cooling to room temperature. We utilize the combination of the MatCalc thermo-kinetic simulator and a semi-analytical heat conduction model. MatCalc is a software suite for simulation of phase transformations, microstructure evolution and certain mechanical properties in engineering alloys. It has successfully been employed to simulate solid-state phase transformations in Ni-based superalloys [38][39], steels [40], and Al alloys [41] during complex thermo-mechanical processes. MatCalc uses the classical nucleation theory as well as the so-called Svoboda-Fischer-Fratzl-Kozeschnik (SFFK) growth model as the basis for simulating precipitation kinetics [42]. Although MatCalc was originally developed for conventional thermo-mechanical processes, we will show that it is also applicable for AM if the detailed time-temperature profile of the AM build is known. The semi-analytical heat transfer code developed by Stump and Plotkowski [43] is used to simulate these profile throughout the AM build.

1.1. Application to IN738

Inconel-738 (IN738) is a precipitation hardening Ni-based superalloy mainly employed in high-temperature components, e.g. in gas turbines and aero-engines owing to its exceptional mechanical properties at temperatures up to 980 °C, coupled with high resistance to oxidation and corrosion [44]. Its superior high-temperature strength (∼1090 MPa tensile strength) is provided by the L12 ordered Ni3(Al,Ti) γ′ phase that precipitates in a face-centered cubic (FCC) γ matrix [45][46]. Despite offering great properties, IN738, like most superalloys with high γ′ fractions, is challenging to process owing to its propensity to hot cracking [47][48]. Further, machining of such alloys is challenging because of their high strength and work-hardening rates. It is therefore difficult to fabricate complex INC738 parts using traditional manufacturing techniques like casting, welding, and forging.

The emergence of AM has now made it possible to fabricate such parts from IN738 and other superalloys. Some of the current authors’ recent research successfully applied E-PBF to fabricate defect-free IN738 containing γ′ throughout the build [16][17]. The precipitated γ′ were heterogeneously distributed. In particular, Haghdadi et al. [16] studied the origin of the multimodal size distribution of γ′, while Lim et al. [17] investigated the gradient in γ′ character with build height and its correlation to mechanical properties. Based on these results, the present study aims to extend the understanding of the complex and site-specific microstructural evolution in E-PBF IN738 by using a computational modelling approach. New experimental evidence (e.g., micrographs not published previously) is presented here to support the computational results.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Materials preparation

IN738 Ni-based superalloy (59.61Ni-8.48Co-7.00Al-17.47Cr-3.96Ti-1.01Mo-0.81W-0.56Ta-0.49Nb-0.47C-0.09Zr-0.05B, at%) gas-atomized powder was used as feedstock. The powders, with average size of 60 ± 7 µm, were manufactured by Praxair and distributed by Astro Alloys Inc. An Arcam Q10 machine by GE Additive with an acceleration voltage of 60 kV was used to fabricate a 15 × 15 × 25 mm3 block (XYZ, Z: build direction) on a 316 stainless steel substrate. The block was 3D-printed using a ‘random’ spot melt pattern. The random spot melt pattern involves randomly selecting points in any given layer, with an equal chance of each point being melted. Each spot melt experienced a dwell time of 0.3 ms, and the layer thickness was 50 µm. Some of the current authors have previously characterized the microstructure of the very same and similar builds in more detail [16][17]. A preheat temperature of ∼1000 °C was set and kept during printing to reduce temperature gradients and, in turn, thermal stresses [49][50][51]. Following printing, the build was separated from the substrate through electrical discharge machining. It should be noted that this sample was simultaneously printed with the one used in [17] during the same build process and on the same build plate, under identical conditions.

2.2. Microstructural characterization

The printed sample was longitudinally cut in the direction of the build using a Struers Accutom-50, ground, and then polished to 0.25 µm suspension via standard techniques. The polished x-z surface was electropolished and etched using Struers A2 solution (perchloric acid in ethanol). Specimens for image analysis were polished using a 0.06 µm colloidal silica. Microstructure analyses were carried out across the height of the build using optical microscopy (OM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with focus on the microstructure evolution (γ′ precipitates) in individual layers. The position of each layer being analyzed was determined by multiplying the layer number by the layer thickness (50 µm). It should be noted that the position of the first layer starts where the thermal profile is tracked (in this case, 2 mm from the bottom). SEM images were acquired using a JEOL 7001 field emission microscope. The brightness and contrast settings, acceleration voltage of 15 kV, working distance of 10 mm, and other SEM imaging parameters were all held constant for analysis of the entire build. The ImageJ software was used for automated image analysis to determine the phase fraction and size of γ′ precipitates and carbides. A 2-pixel radius Gaussian blur, following a greyscale thresholding and watershed segmentation was used [52]. Primary γ′ sizes (>50 nm), were measured using equivalent spherical diameters. The phase fractions were considered equal to the measured area fraction. Secondary γ′ particles (<50 nm) were not considered here. The γ′ size in the following refers to the diameter of a precipitate.

2.3. Hardness testing

A Struers DuraScan tester was utilized for Vickers hardness mapping on a polished x-z surface, from top to bottom under a maximum load of 100 mN and 10 s dwell time. 30 micro-indentations were performed per row. According to the ASTM standard [53], the indentations were sufficiently distant (∼500 µm) to assure that strain-hardened areas did not interfere with one another.

2.4. Computational simulation of E-PBF IN738 build

2.4.1. Thermal profile modeling

The thermal history was generated using the semi-analytical heat transfer code (also known as the 3DThesis code) developed by Stump and Plotkowski [43]. This code is an open-source C++ program which provides a way to quickly simulate the conductive heat transfer found in welding and AM. The key use case for the code is the simulation of larger domains than is practicable with Computational Fluid Dynamics/Finite Element Analysis programs like FLOW-3D AM. Although simulating conductive heat transfer will not be an appropriate simplification for some investigations (for example the modelling of keyholding or pore formation), the 3DThesis code does provide fast estimates of temperature, thermal gradient, and solidification rate which can be useful for elucidating microstructure formation across entire layers of an AM build. The mathematics involved in the code is as follows:

In transient thermal conduction during welding and AM, with uniform and constant thermophysical properties and without considering fluid convection and latent heat effects, energy conservation can be expressed as:(1)��∂�∂�=�∇2�+�̇where � is density, � specific heat, � temperature, � time, � thermal conductivity, and �̇ a volumetric heat source. By assuming a semi-infinite domain, Eq. 1 can be analytically solved. The solution for temperature at a given time (t) using a volumetric Gaussian heat source is presented as:(2)��,�,�,�−�0=33�����32∫0�1������exp−3�′�′2��+�′�′2��+�′�′2����′(3)and��=12��−�′+��2for�=�,�,�(4)and�′�′=�−���′Where � is the vector �,�,� and �� is the location of the heat source.

The numerical integration scheme used is an adaptive Gaussian quadrature method based on the following nondimensionalization:(5)�=��xy2�,�′=��xy2�′,�=��xy,�=��xy,�=��xy,�=���xy

A more detailed explanation of the mathematics can be found in reference [43].

The main source of the thermal cycling present within a powder-bed fusion process is the fusion of subsequent layers. Therefore, regions near the top of a build are expected to undergo fewer thermal cycles than those closer to the bottom. For this purpose, data from the single scan’s thermal influence on multiple layers was spliced to represent the thermal cycles experienced at a single location caused by multiple subsequent layers being fused.

The cross-sectional area simulated by this model was kept constant at 1 × 1 mm2, and the depth was dependent on the build location modelled with MatCalc. For a build location 2 mm from the bottom, the maximum number of layers to simulate is 460. Fig. 1a shows a stitched overview OM image of the entire build indicating the region where this thermal cycle is simulated and tracked. To increase similarity with the conditions of the physical build, each thermal history was constructed from the results of two simulations generated with different versions of a random scan path. The parameters used for these thermal simulations can be found in Table 1. It should be noted that the main purpose of the thermal profile modelling was to demonstrate how the conditions at different locations of the build change relative to each other. Accurately predicting the absolute temperature during the build would require validation via a temperature sensor measurement during the build process which is beyond the scope of the study. Nonetheless, to establish the viability of the heat source as a suitable approximation for this study, an additional sensitivity analysis was conducted. This analysis focused on the influence of energy input on γ′ precipitation behavior, the central aim of this paper. This was achieved by employing varying beam absorption energies (0.76, 0.82 – the values utilized in the simulation, and 0.9). The direct impact of beam absorption efficiency on energy input into the material was investigated. Specifically, the initial 20 layers of the build were simulated and subsequently compared to experimental data derived from SEM. While phase fractions were found to be consistent across all conditions, disparities emerged in the mean size of γ′ precipitates. An absorption efficiency of 0.76 yielded a mean size of approximately 70 nm. Conversely, absorption efficiencies of 0.82 and 0.9 exhibited remarkably similar mean sizes of around 130 nm, aligning closely with the outcomes of the experiments.

Fig. 1

Table 1. A list of parameters used in thermal simulation of E-PBF.

Spatial resolution5 µm
Time step0.5 s
Beam diameter200 µm
Beam penetration depth1 µm
Beam power1200 W
Beam absorption efficiency0.82
Thermal conductivity25.37 W/(m⋅K)
Chamber temperature1000 °C
Specific heat711.756 J/(kg⋅K)
Density8110 kg/m3

2.4.2. Thermo-kinetic simulation

The numerical analyses of the evolution of precipitates was performed using MatCalc version 6.04 (rel 0.011). The thermodynamic (‘mc_ni.tdb’, version 2.034) and diffusion (‘mc_ni.ddb’, version 2.007) databases were used. MatCalc’s basic principles are elaborated as follows:

The nucleation kinetics of precipitates are computed using a computational technique based on a classical nucleation theory [54] that has been modified for systems with multiple components [42][55]. Accordingly, the transient nucleation rate (�), which expresses the rate at which nuclei are formed per unit volume and time, is calculated as:(6)�=�0��*∙�xp−�*�∙�∙exp−��where �0 denotes the number of active nucleation sites, �* the rate of atomic attachment, � the Boltzmann constant, � the temperature, �* the critical energy for nucleus formation, τ the incubation time, and t the time. � (Zeldovich factor) takes into consideration that thermal excitation destabilizes the nucleus as opposed to its inactive state [54]. Z is defined as follows:(7)�=−12�kT∂2∆�∂�2�*12where ∆� is the overall change in free energy due to the formation of a nucleus and n is the nucleus’ number of atoms. ∆�’s derivative is evaluated at n* (critical nucleus size). �* accounts for the long-range diffusion of atoms required for nucleation, provided that the matrix’ and precipitates’ composition differ. Svoboda et al. [42] developed an appropriate multi-component equation for �*, which is given by:(8)�*=4��*2�4�∑�=1��ki−�0�2�0��0�−1where �* denotes the critical radius for nucleation, � represents atomic distance, and � is the molar volume. �ki and �0� represent the concentration of elements in the precipitate and matrix, respectively. The parameter �0� denotes the rate of diffusion of the ith element within the matrix. The expression for the incubation time � is expressed as [54]:(9)�=12�*�2

and �*, which represents the critical energy for nucleation:(10)�*=16�3�3∆�vol2where � is the interfacial energy, and ∆Gvol the change in the volume free energy. The critical nucleus’ composition is similar to the γ′ phase’s equilibrium composition at the same temperature. � is computed based on the precipitate and matrix compositions, using a generalized nearest neighbor broken bond model, with the assumption of interfaces being planar, sharp, and coherent [56][57][58].

In Eq. 7, it is worth noting that �* represents the fundamental variable in the nucleation theory. It contains �3/∆�vol2 and is in the exponent of the nucleation rate. Therefore, even small variations in γ and/or ∆�vol can result in notable changes in �, especially if �* is in the order of �∙�. This is demonstrated in [38] for UDIMET 720 Li during continuous cooling, where these quantities change steadily during precipitation due to their dependence on matrix’ and precipitate’s temperature and composition. In the current work, these changes will be even more significant as the system is exposed to multiple cycles of rapid cooling and heating.

Once nucleated, the growth of a precipitate is assessed using the radius and composition evolution equations developed by Svoboda et al. [42] with a mean-field method that employs the thermodynamic extremal principle. The expression for the total Gibbs free energy of a thermodynamic system G, which consists of n components and m precipitates, is given as follows:(11)�=∑���0��0�+∑�=1�4���33��+∑�=1��ki�ki+∑�=1�4���2��.

The chemical potential of component � in the matrix is denoted as �0�(�=1,…,�), while the chemical potential of component � in the precipitate is represented by �ki(�=1,…,�,�=1,…,�). These chemical potentials are defined as functions of the concentrations �ki(�=1,…,�,�=1,…,�). The interface energy density is denoted as �, and �� incorporates the effects of elastic energy and plastic work resulting from the volume change of each precipitate.

Eq. (12) establishes that the total free energy of the system in its current state relies on the independent state variables: the sizes (radii) of the precipitates �� and the concentrations of each component �ki. The remaining variables can be determined by applying the law of mass conservation to each component �. This can be represented by the equation:(12)��=�0�+∑�=1�4���33�ki,

Furthermore, the global mass conservation can be expressed by equation:(13)�=∑�=1���When a thermodynamic system transitions to a more stable state, the energy difference between the initial and final stages is dissipated. This model considers three distinct forms of dissipation effects [42]. These include dissipations caused by the movement of interfaces, diffusion within the precipitate and diffusion within the matrix.

Consequently, �̇� (growth rate) and �̇ki (chemical composition’s rate of change) of the precipitate with index � are derived from the linear system of equation system:(14)�ij��=��where �� symbolizes the rates �̇� and �̇ki [42]. Index i contains variables for precipitate radius, chemical composition, and stoichiometric boundary conditions suggested by the precipitate’s crystal structure. Eq. (10) is computed separately for every precipitate �. For a more detailed description of the formulae for the coefficients �ij and �� employed in this work please refer to [59].

The MatCalc software was used to perform the numerical time integration of �̇� and �̇ki of precipitates based on the classical numerical method by Kampmann and Wagner [60]. Detailed information on this method can be found in [61]. Using this computational method, calculations for E-PBF thermal cycles (cyclic heating and cooling) were computed and compared to experimental data. The simulation took approximately 2–4 hrs to complete on a standard laptop.

3. Results

3.1. Microstructure

Fig. 1 displays a stitched overview image and selected SEM micrographs of various γ′ morphologies and carbides after observations of the X-Z surface of the build from the top to 2 mm above the bottom. Fig. 2 depicts a graph that charts the average size and phase fraction of the primary γ′, as it changes with distance from the top to the bottom of the build. The SEM micrographs show widespread primary γ′ precipitation throughout the entire build, with the size increasing in the top to bottom direction. Particularly, at the topmost height, representing the 460th layer (Z = 22.95 mm), as seen in Fig. 1b, the average size of γ′ is 110 ± 4 nm, exhibiting spherical shapes. This is representative of the microstructure after it solidifies and cools to room temperature, without experiencing additional thermal cycles. The γ′ size slightly increases to 147 ± 6 nm below this layer and remains constant until 0.4 mm (∼453rd layer) from the top. At this position, the microstructure still closely resembles that of the 460th layer. After the 453rd layer, the γ′ size grows rapidly to ∼503 ± 19 nm until reaching the 437th layer (1.2 mm from top). The γ′ particles here have a cuboidal shape, and a small fraction is coarser than 600 nm. γ′ continue to grow steadily from this position to the bottom (23 mm from the top). A small fraction of γ′ is > 800 nm.

Fig. 2

Besides primary γ′, secondary γ′ with sizes ranging from 5 to 50 nm were also found. These secondary γ′ precipitates, as seen in Fig. 1f, were present only in the bottom and middle regions. A detailed analysis of the multimodal size distribution of γ′ can be found in [16]. There is no significant variation in the phase fraction of the γ′ along the build. The phase fraction is ∼ 52%, as displayed in Fig. 2. It is worth mentioning that the total phase fraction of γ′ was estimated based on the primary γ′ phase fraction because of the small size of secondary γ′. Spherical MC carbides with sizes ranging from 50 to 400 nm and a phase fraction of 0.8% were also observed throughout the build. The carbides are the light grey precipitates in Fig. 1g. The light grey shade of carbides in the SEM images is due to their composition and crystal structure [52]. These carbides are not visible in Fig. 1b-e because they were dissolved during electro-etching carried out after electropolishing. In Fig. 1g, however, the sample was examined directly after electropolishing, without electro-etching.

Table 2 shows the nominal and measured composition of γ′ precipitates throughout the build by atom probe microscopy as determined in our previous study [17]. No build height-dependent composition difference was observed in either of the γ′ precipitate populations. However, there was a slight disparity between the composition of primary and secondary γ′. Among the main γ′ forming elements, the primary γ′ has a high Ti concentration while secondary γ′ has a high Al concentration. A detailed description of the atom distribution maps and the proxigrams of the constituent elements of γ′ throughout the build can be found in [17].

Table 2. Bulk IN738 composition determined using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES). Compositions of γ, primary γ′, and secondary γ′ at various locations in the build measured by APT. This information is reproduced from data in Ref. [17] with permission.

γ matrix
Primary γ′
Secondary γ′

3.2. Hardness

Fig. 3a shows the Vickers hardness mapping performed along the entire X-Z surface, while Fig. 3b shows the plot of average hardness at different build heights. This hardness distribution is consistent with the γ′ precipitate size gradient across the build direction in Fig. 1Fig. 2. The maximum hardness of ∼530 HV1 is found at ∼0.5 mm away from the top surface (Z = 22.5), where γ′ particles exhibit the smallest observed size in Fig. 2b. Further down the build (∼ 2 mm from the top), the hardness drops to the 440–490 HV1 range. This represents the region where γ′ begins to coarsen. The hardness drops further to 380–430 HV1 at the bottom of the build.

Fig. 3

3.3. Modeling of the microstructural evolution during E-PBF

3.3.1. Thermal profile modeling

Fig. 4 shows the simulated thermal profile of the E-PBF build at a location of 23 mm from the top of the build, using a semi-analytical heat conduction model. This profile consists of the time taken to deposit 460 layers until final cooling, as shown in Fig. 4a. Fig. 4b-d show the magnified regions of Fig. 4a and reveal the first 20 layers from the top, a single layer (first layer from the top), and the time taken for the build to cool after the last layer deposition, respectively.

Fig. 4

The peak temperatures experienced by previous layers decrease progressively as the number of layers increases but never fall below the build preheat temperature (1000 °C). Our simulated thermal cycle may not completely capture the complexity of the actual thermal cycle utilized in the E-PBF build. For instance, the top layer (Fig. 4c), also representing the first deposit’s thermal profile without additional cycles (from powder heating, melting, to solidification), recorded the highest peak temperature of 1390 °C. Although this temperature is above the melting range of the alloy (1230–1360 °C) [62], we believe a much higher temperature was produced by the electron beam to melt the powder. Nevertheless, the solidification temperature and dynamics are outside the scope of this study as our focus is on the solid-state phase transformations during deposition. It takes ∼25 s for each layer to be deposited and cooled to the build temperature. The interlayer dwell time is 125 s. The time taken for the build to cool to room temperature (RT) after final layer deposition is ∼4.7 hrs (17,000 s).

3.3.2. MatCalc simulation

During the MatCalc simulation, the matrix phase is defined as γ. γ′, and MC carbide are included as possible precipitates. The domain of these precipitates is set to be the matrix (γ), and nucleation is assumed to be homogenous. In homogeneous nucleation, all atoms of the unit volume are assumed to be potential nucleation sitesTable 3 shows the computational parameters used in the simulation. All other parameters were set at default values as recommended in the version 6.04.0011 of MatCalc. The values for the interfacial energies are automatically calculated according to the generalized nearest neighbor broken bond model and is one of the most outstanding features in MatCalc [56][57][58]. It should be noted that the elastic misfit strain was not included in the calculation. The output of MatCalc includes phase fraction, size, nucleation rate, and composition of the precipitates. The phase fraction in MatCalc is the volume fraction. Although the experimental phase fraction is the measured area fraction, it is relatively similar to the volume fraction. This is because of the generally larger precipitate size and similar morphology at the various locations along the build [63]. A reliable phase fraction comparison between experiment and simulation can therefore be made.

Table 3. Computational parameters used in the simulation.

Precipitation domainγ
Nucleation site γ′Bulk (homogenous)
Nucleation site MC carbideBulk (Homogenous)
Precipitates class size250
Regular solution critical temperature γ′2500 K[64]
Calculated interfacial energyγ′ = 0.080–0.140 J/m2 and MC carbide = 0.410–0.430 J/m2 Precipitate phase fraction

Fig. 5a shows the simulated phase fraction of γ′ and MC carbide during thermal cycling. Fig. 5b is a magnified view of 5a showing the simulated phase fraction at the center points of the top 70 layers, whereas Fig. 5c corresponds to the first two layers from the top. As mentioned earlier, the top layer (460th layer) represents the microstructure after solidification. The microstructure of the layers below is determined by the number of thermal cycles, which increases with distance to the top. For example, layers 459, 458, 457, up to layer 1 (region of interest) experience 1, 2, 3 and 459 thermal cycles, respectively. In the top layer in Fig. 5c, the volume fraction of γ′ and carbides increases with temperature. For γ′, it decreases to zero when the temperature is above the solvus temperature after a few seconds. Carbides, however, remain constant in their volume fraction reaching equilibrium (phase fraction ∼ 0.9%) in a short time. The topmost layer can be compared to the first deposit, and the peak in temperature symbolizes the stage where the electron beam heats the powder until melting. This means γ′ and carbide precipitation might have started in the powder particles during heating from the build temperature and electron beam until the onset of melting, where γ′ dissolves, but carbides remain stable [28].

Fig. 5

During cooling after deposition, γ′ reprecipitates at a temperature of 1085 °C, which is below its solvus temperature. As cooling progresses, the phase fraction increases steadily to ∼27% and remains constant at 1000 °C (elevated build temperature). The calculated equilibrium fraction of phases by MatCalc is used to show the complex precipitation characteristics in this alloy. Fig. 6 shows that MC carbides form during solidification at 1320 °C, followed by γ′, which precipitate when the solidified layer cools to 1140 °C. This indicates that all deposited layers might contain a negligible amount of these precipitates before subsequent layer deposition, while being at the 1000 °C build temperature or during cooling to RT. The phase diagram also shows that the equilibrium fraction of the γ′ increases as temperature decreases. For instance, at 1000, 900, and 800 °C, the phase fractions are ∼30%, 38%, and 42%, respectively.

Fig. 6

Deposition of subsequent layers causes previous layers to undergo phase transformations as they are exposed to several thermal cycles with different peak temperatures. In Fig. 5c, as the subsequent layer is being deposited, γ′ in the previous layer (459th layer) begins to dissolve as the temperature crosses the solvus temperature. This is witnessed by the reduction of the γ′ phase fraction. This graph also shows how this phase dissolves during heating. However, the phase fraction of MC carbide remains stable at high temperatures and no dissolution is seen during thermal cycling. Upon cooling, the γ′ that was dissolved during heating reprecipitates with a surge in the phase fraction until 1000 °C, after which it remains constant. This microstructure is similar to the solidification microstructure (layer 460), with a similar γ′ phase fraction (∼27%).

The complete dissolution and reprecipitation of γ′ continue for several cycles until the 50th layer from the top (layer 411), where the phase fraction does not reach zero during heating to the peak temperature (see Fig. 5d). This indicates the ‘partial’ dissolution of γ′, which continues progressively with additional layers. It should be noted that the peak temperatures for layers that underwent complete dissolution were much higher (1170–1300 °C) than the γ′ solvus.

The dissolution and reprecipitation of γ′ during thermal cycling are further confirmed in Fig. 7, which summarizes the nucleation rate, phase fraction, and concentration of major elements that form γ′ in the matrix. Fig. 7b magnifies a single layer (3rd layer from top) within the full dissolution region in Fig. 7a to help identify the nucleation and growth mechanisms. From Fig. 7b, γ′ nucleation begins during cooling whereby the nucleation rate increases to reach a maximum value of approximately 1 × 1020 m−3s−1. This fast kinetics implies that some rearrangement of atoms is required for γ′ precipitates to form in the matrix [65][66]. The matrix at this stage is in a non-equilibrium condition. Its composition is similar to the nominal composition and remains unchanged. The phase fraction remains insignificant at this stage although nucleation has started. The nucleation rate starts declining upon reaching the peak value. Simultaneously, diffusion-controlled growth of existing nuclei occurs, depleting the matrix of γ′ forming elements (Al and Ti). Thus, from (7)(11), ∆�vol continuously decreases until nucleation ceases. The growth of nuclei is witnessed by the increase in phase fraction until a constant level is reached at 27% upon cooling to and holding at build temperature. This nucleation event is repeated several times.

Fig. 7

At the onset of partial dissolution, the nucleation rate jumps to 1 × 1021 m−3s−1, and then reduces sharply at the middle stage of partial dissolution. The nucleation rate reaches 0 at a later stage. Supplementary Fig. S1 shows a magnified view of the nucleation rate, phase fraction, and thermal profile, underpinning this trend. The jump in nucleation rate at the onset is followed by a progressive reduction in the solute content of the matrix. The peak temperatures (∼1130–1160 °C) are lower than those in complete dissolution regions but still above or close to the γ′ solvus. The maximum phase fraction (∼27%) is similar to that of the complete dissolution regions. At the middle stage, the reduction in nucleation rate is accompanied by a sharp drop in the matrix composition. The γ′ fraction drops to ∼24%, where the peak temperatures of the layers are just below or at γ′ solvus. The phase fraction then increases progressively through the later stage of partial dissolution to ∼30% towards the end of thermal cycling. The matrix solute content continues to drop although no nucleation event is seen. The peak temperatures are then far below the γ′ solvus. It should be noted that the matrix concentration after complete dissolution remains constant. Upon cooling to RT after final layer deposition, the nucleation rate increases again, indicating new nucleation events. The phase fraction reaches ∼40%, with a further depletion of the matrix in major γ′ forming elements. γ′ size distribution

Fig. 8 shows histograms of the γ′ precipitate size distributions (PSD) along the build height during deposition. These PSDs are predicted at the end of each layer of interest just before final cooling to room temperature, to separate the role of thermal cycles from final cooling on the evolution of γ′. The PSD for the top layer (layer 460) is shown in Fig. 8a (last solidified region with solidification microstructure). The γ′ size ranges from 120 to 230 nm and is similar to the 44 layers below (2.2 mm from the top).

Fig. 8

Further down the build, γ′ begins to coarsen after layer 417 (44th layer from top). Fig. 8c shows the PSD after the 44th layer, where the γ′ size exhibits two peaks at ∼120–230 and ∼300 nm, with most of the population being in the former range. This is the onset of partial dissolution where simultaneously with the reprecipitation and growth of fresh γ′, the undissolved γ′ grows rapidly through diffusive transport of atoms to the precipitates. This is shown in Fig. 8c, where the precipitate class sizes between 250 and 350 represent the growth of undissolved γ′. Although this continues in the 416th layer, the phase fractions plot indicates that the onset of partial dissolution begins after the 411th layer. This implies that partial dissolution started early, but the fraction of undissolved γ′ was too low to impact the phase fraction. The reprecipitated γ′ are mostly in the 100–220 nm class range and similar to those observed during full dissolution.

As the number of layers increases, coarsening intensifies with continued growth of more undissolved γ′, and reprecipitation and growth of partially dissolved ones. Fig. 8d, e, and f show this sequence. Further down the build, coarsening progresses rapidly, as shown in Figs. 8d, 8e, and 8f. The γ′ size ranges from 120 to 1100 nm, with the peaks at 160, 180, and 220 nm in Figs. 8d, 8e, and 8f, respectively. Coarsening continues until nucleation ends during dissolution, where only the already formed γ′ precipitates continue to grow during further thermal cycling. The γ′ size at this point is much larger, as observed in layers 361 and 261, and continues to increase steadily towards the bottom (layer 1). Two populations in the ranges of ∼380–700 and ∼750–1100 nm, respectively, can be seen. The steady growth of γ′ towards the bottom is confirmed by the gradual decrease in the concentration of solute elements in the matrix (Fig. 7a). It should be noted that for each layer, the γ′ class with the largest size originates from continuous growth of the earliest set of the undissolved precipitates.

Fig. 9Fig. 10 and supplementary Figs. S2 and S3 show the γ′ size evolution during heating and cooling of a single layer in the full dissolution region, and early, middle stages, and later stages of partial dissolution, respectively. In all, the size of γ′ reduces during layer heating. Depending on the peak temperature of the layer which varies with build height, γ′ are either fully or partially dissolved as mentioned earlier. Upon cooling, the dissolved γ′ reprecipitate.

Fig. 9
Fig. 10

In Fig. 9, those layers that underwent complete dissolution (top layers) were held above γ′ solvus temperature for longer. In Fig. 10, layers at the early stage of partial dissolution spend less time in the γ′ solvus temperature region during heating, leading to incomplete dissolution. In such conditions, smaller precipitates are fully dissolved while larger ones shrink [67]. Layers in the middle stages of partial dissolution have peak temperatures just below or at γ′ solvus, not sufficient to achieve significant γ′ dissolution. As seen in supplementary Fig. S2, only a few smaller γ′ are dissolved back into the matrix during heating, i.e., growth of precipitates is more significant than dissolution. This explains the sharp decrease in concentration of Al and Ti in the matrix in this layer.

The previous sections indicate various phenomena such as an increase in phase fraction, further depletion of matrix composition, and new nucleation bursts during cooling. Analysis of the PSD after the final cooling of the build to room temperature allows a direct comparison to post-printing microstructural characterization. Fig. 11 shows the γ′ size distribution of layer 1 (460th layer from the top) after final cooling to room temperature. Precipitation of secondary γ′ is observed, leading to the multimodal size distribution of secondary and primary γ′. The secondary γ′ size falls within the 10–80 nm range. As expected, a further growth of the existing primary γ′ is also observed during cooling.

Fig. 11 γ′ chemistry after deposition

Fig. 12 shows the concentration of the major elements that form γ′ (Al, Ti, and Ni) in the primary and secondary γ′ at the bottom of the build, as calculated by MatCalc. The secondary γ′ has a higher Al content (13.5–14.5 at% Al), compared to 13 at% Al in the primary γ′. Additionally, within the secondary γ′, the smallest particles (∼10 nm) have higher Al contents than larger ones (∼70 nm). In contrast, for the primary γ′, there is no significant variation in the Al content as a function of their size. The Ni concentration in secondary γ′ (71.1–72 at%) is also higher in comparison to the primary γ′ (70 at%). The smallest secondary γ′ (∼10 nm) have higher Ni contents than larger ones (∼70 nm), whereas there is no substantial change in the Ni content of primary γ′, based on their size. As expected, Ti shows an opposite size-dependent variation. It ranges from ∼ 7.7–8.7 at% Ti in secondary γ′ to ∼9.2 at% in primary γ′. Similarly, within the secondary γ′, the smallest (∼10 nm) have lower Al contents than the larger ones (∼70 nm). No significant variation is observed for Ti content in primary γ′.

Fig. 12

4. Discussion

A combined modelling method is utilized to study the microstructural evolution during E-PBF of IN738. The presented results are discussed by examining the precipitation and dissolution mechanism of γ′ during thermal cycling. This is followed by a discussion on the phase fraction and size evolution of γ′ during thermal cycling and after final cooling. A brief discussion on carbide morphology is also made. Finally, a comparison is made between the simulation and experimental results to assess their agreement.

4.1. γ′ morphology as a function of build height

4.1.1. Nucleation of γ′

The fast precipitation kinetics of the γ′ phase enables formation of γ′ upon quenching from higher temperatures (above solvus) during thermal cycling [66]. In Fig. 7b, for a single layer in the full dissolution region, during cooling, the initial increase in nucleation rate signifies the first formation of nuclei. The slight increase in nucleation rate during partial dissolution, despite a decrease in the concentration of γ′ forming elements, may be explained by the nucleation kinetics. During partial dissolution and as the precipitates shrink, it is assumed that the regions at the vicinity of partially dissolved precipitates are enriched in γ′ forming elements [68][69]. This differs from the full dissolution region, in which case the chemical composition is evenly distributed in the matrix. Several authors have attributed the solute supersaturation of the matrix around primary γ′ to partial dissolution during isothermal ageing [69][70][71][72]. The enhanced supersaturation in the regions close to the precipitates results in a much higher driving force for nucleation, leading to a higher nucleation rate upon cooling. This phenomenon can be closely related to the several nucleation bursts upon continuous cooling of Ni-based superalloys, where second nucleation bursts exhibit higher nucleation rates [38][68][73][74].

At middle stages of partial dissolution, the reduction in the nucleation rate indicates that the existing composition and low supersaturation did not trigger nucleation as the matrix was closer to the equilibrium state. The end of a nucleation burst means that the supersaturation of Al and Ti has reached a low level, incapable of providing sufficient driving force during cooling to or holding at 1000 °C for further nucleation [73]. Earlier studies on Ni-based superalloys have reported the same phenomenon during ageing or continuous cooling from the solvus temperature to RT [38][73][74].

4.1.2. Dissolution of γ′ during thermal cycling

γ′ dissolution kinetics during heating are fast when compared to nucleation due to exponential increase in phase transformation and diffusion activities with temperature [65]. As shown in Fig. 9Fig. 10, and supplementary Figs. S2 and S3, the reduction in γ′ phase fraction and size during heating indicates γ′ dissolution. This is also revealed in Fig. 5 where phase fraction decreases upon heating. The extent of γ′ dissolution mostly depends on the temperature, time spent above γ′ solvus, and precipitate size [75][76][77]. Smaller γ′ precipitates are first to be dissolved [67][77][78]. This is mainly because more solute elements need to be transported away from large γ′ precipitates than from smaller ones [79]. Also, a high temperature above γ′ solvus temperature leads to a faster dissolution rate [80]. The equilibrium solvus temperature of γ′ in IN738 in our MatCalc simulation (Fig. 6) and as reported by Ojo et al. [47] is 1140 °C and 1130–1180 °C, respectively. This means the peak temperature experienced by previous layers decreases progressively from γ′ supersolvus to subsolvus, near-solvus, and far from solvus as the number of subsequent layers increases. Based on the above, it can be inferred that the degree of dissolution of γ′ contributes to the gradient in precipitate distribution.

Although the peak temperatures during later stages of partial dissolution are much lower than the equilibrium γ′ solvus, γ′ dissolution still occurs but at a significantly lower rate (supplementary Fig. S3). Wahlmann et al. [28] also reported a similar case where they observed the rapid dissolution of γ′ in CMSX-4 during fast heating and cooling cycles at temperatures below the γ′ solvus. They attributed this to the γ′ phase transformation process taking place in conditions far from the equilibrium. While the same reasoning may be valid for our study, we further believe that the greater surface area to volume ratio of the small γ′ precipitates contributed to this. This ratio means a larger area is available for solute atoms to diffuse into the matrix even at temperatures much below the solvus [81].

4.2. γ′ phase fraction and size evolution

4.2.1. During thermal cycling

In the first layer, the steep increase in γ′ phase fraction during heating (Fig. 5), which also represents γ′ precipitation in the powder before melting, has qualitatively been validated in [28]. The maximum phase fraction of 27% during the first few layers of thermal cycling indicates that IN738 theoretically could reach the equilibrium state (∼30%), but the short interlayer time at the build temperature counteracts this. The drop in phase fraction at middle stages of partial dissolution is due to the low number of γ′ nucleation sites [73]. It has been reported that a reduction of γ′ nucleation sites leads to a delay in obtaining the final volume fraction as more time is required for γ′ precipitates to grow and reach equilibrium [82]. This explains why even upon holding for 150 s before subsequent layer deposition, the phase fraction does not increase to those values that were observed in the previous full γ′ dissolution regions. Towards the end of deposition, the increase in phase fraction to the equilibrium value of 30% is as a result of the longer holding at build temperature or close to it [83].

During thermal cycling, γ′ particles begin to grow immediately after they first precipitate upon cooling. This is reflected in the rapid increase in phase fraction and size during cooling in Fig. 5 and supplementary Fig. S2, respectively. The rapid growth is due to the fast diffusion of solute elements at high temperatures [84]. The similar size of γ′ for the first 44 layers from the top can be attributed to the fact that all layers underwent complete dissolution and hence, experienced the same nucleation event and growth during deposition. This corresponds with the findings by Balikci et al. [85], who reported that the degree of γ′ precipitation in IN738LC does not change when a solution heat treatment is conducted above a certain critical temperature.

The increase in coarsening rate (Fig. 8) during thermal cycling can first be ascribed to the high peak temperature of the layers [86]. The coarsening rate of γ′ is known to increase rapidly with temperature due to the exponential growth of diffusion activity. Also, the simultaneous dissolution with coarsening could be another reason for the high coarsening rate, as γ′ coarsening is a diffusion-driven process where large particles grow by consuming smaller ones [78][84][86][87]. The steady growth of γ′ towards the bottom of the build is due to the much lower layer peak temperature, which is almost close to the build temperature, and reduced dissolution activity, as is seen in the much lower solute concentration in γ′ compared to those in the full and partial dissolution regions.

4.2.2. During cooling

The much higher phase fraction of ∼40% upon cooling signifies the tendency of γ′ to reach equilibrium at lower temperatures (Fig. 4). This is due to the precipitation of secondary γ′ and a further increase in the size of existing primary γ′, which leads to a multimodal size distribution of γ′ after cooling [38][73][88][89][90]. The reason for secondary γ′ formation during cooling is as follows: As cooling progresses, it becomes increasingly challenging to redistribute solute elements in the matrix owing to their lower mobility [38][73]. A higher supersaturation level in regions away from or free of the existing γ′ precipitates is achieved, making them suitable sites for additional nucleation bursts. More cooling leads to the growth of these secondary γ′ precipitates, but as the temperature and in turn, the solute diffusivity is low, growth remains slow.

4.3. Carbides

MC carbides in IN738 are known to have a significant impact on the high-temperature strength. They can also act as effective hardening particles and improve the creep resistance [91]. Precipitation of MC carbides in IN738 and several other superalloys is known to occur during solidification or thermal treatments (e.g., hot isostatic pressing) [92]. In our case, this means that the MC carbides within the E-PBF build formed because of the thermal exposure from the E-PBF thermal cycle in addition to initial solidification. Our simulation confirms this as MC carbides appear during layer heating (Fig. 5). The constant and stable phase fraction of MC carbides during thermal cycling can be attributed to their high melting point (∼1360 °C) and the short holding time at peak temperatures [75][93][94]. The solvus temperature for most MC carbides exceeds most of the peak temperatures observed in our simulation, and carbide dissolution kinetics at temperatures above the solvus are known to be comparably slow [95]. The stable phase fraction and random distribution of MC carbides signifies the slight influence on the gradient in hardness.

4.4. Comparison of simulations and experiments

4.4.1. Precipitate phase fraction and morphology as a function of build height

A qualitative agreement is observed for the phase fraction of carbides, i.e. ∼0.8% in the experiment and ∼0.9% in the simulation. The phase fraction of γ′ differs, with the experiment reporting a value of ∼51% and the simulation, 40%. Despite this, the size distribution of primary γ′ along the build shows remarkable consistency between experimental and computational analyses. It is worth noting that the primary γ′ morphology in the experimental analysis is observed in the as-fabricated state, whereas the simulation (Fig. 8) captures it during deposition process. The primary γ′ size in the experiment is expected to experience additional growth during the cooling phase. Regardless, both show similar trends in primary γ′ size increments from the top to the bottom of the build. The larger primary γ’ size in the simulation versus the experiment can be attributed to the fact that experimental and simulation results are based on 2D and 3D data, respectively. The absence of stereological considerations [96] in our analysis could have led to an underestimation of the precipitate sizes from SEM measurements. The early starts of coarsening (8th layer) in the experiment compared to the simulation (45th layer) can be attributed to a higher actual γ′ solvus temperature than considered in our simulation [47]. The solvus temperature of γ′ in a Ni-based superalloy is mainly determined by the detailed composition. A high amount of Cr and Co are known to reduce the solvus temperature, whereas Ta and Mo will increase it [97][98][99]. The elemental composition from our experimental work was used for the simulation except for Ta. It should be noted that Ta is not included in the thermodynamic database in MatCalc used, and this may have reduced the solvus temperature. This could also explain the relatively higher γ′ phase fraction in the experiment than in simulation, as a higher γ′ solvus temperature will cause more γ′ to precipitate and grow early during cooling [99][100].

Another possible cause of this deviation can be attributed to the extent of γ′ dissolution, which is mainly determined by the peak temperature. It can be speculated that individual peak temperatures at different layers in the simulation may have been over-predicted. However, one needs to consider that the true thermal profile is likely more complicated in the actual E-PBF process [101]. For example, the current model assumes that the thermophysical properties of the material are temperature-independent, which is not realistic. Many materials, including IN738, exhibit temperature-dependent properties such as thermal conductivityspecific heat capacity, and density [102]. This means that heat transfer simulations may underestimate or overestimate the temperature gradients and cooling rates within the powder bed and the solidified part. Additionally, the model does not account for the reduced thermal diffusivity through unmelted powder, where gas separating the powder acts as insulation, impeding the heat flow [1]. In E-PBF, the unmelted powder regions with trapped gas have lower thermal diffusivity compared to the fully melted regions, leading to localized temperature variations, and altered solidification behavior. These limitations can impact the predictions, particularly in relation to the carbide dissolution, as the peak temperatures may be underestimated.

While acknowledging these limitations, it is worth emphasizing that achieving a detailed and accurate representation of each layer’s heat source would impose tough computational challenges. Given the substantial layer count in E-PBF, our decision to employ a semi-analytical approximation strikes a balance between computational feasibility and the capture of essential trends in thermal profiles across diverse build layers. In future work, a dual-calibration strategy is proposed to further reduce simulation-experiment disparities. By refining temperature-independent thermophysical property approximations and absorptivity in the heat source model, and by optimizing interfacial energy descriptions in the kinetic model, the predictive precision could be enhanced. Further refining the simulation controls, such as adjusting the precipitate class size may enhance quantitative comparisons between modeling outcomes and experimental data in future work.

4.4.2. Multimodal size distribution of γ′ and concentration

Another interesting feature that sees qualitative agreement between the simulation and the experiment is the multimodal size distribution of γ′. The formation of secondary γ′ particles in the experiment and most E-PBF Ni-based superalloys is suggested to occur at low temperatures, during final cooling to RT [16][73][90]. However, so far, this conclusion has been based on findings from various continuous cooling experiments, as the study of the evolution during AM would require an in-situ approach. Our simulation unambiguously confirms this in an AM context by providing evidence for secondary γ′ precipitation during slow cooling to RT. Additionally, it is possible to speculate that the chemical segregation occurring during solidification, due to the preferential partitioning of certain elements between the solid and liquid phases, can contribute to the multimodal size distribution during deposition [51]. This is because chemical segregation can result in variations in the local composition of superalloys, which subsequently affects the nucleation and growth of γ′. Regions with higher concentrations of alloying elements will encourage the formation of larger γ′ particles, while regions with lower concentrations may favor the nucleation of smaller precipitates. However, it is important to acknowledge that the elevated temperature during the E-PBF process will largely homogenize these compositional differences [103][104].

A good correlation is also shown in the composition of major γ′ forming elements (Al and Ti) in primary and secondary γ′. Both experiment and simulation show an increasing trend for Al content and a decreasing trend for Ti content from primary to secondary γ′. The slight composition differences between primary and secondary γ′ particles are due to the different diffusivity of γ′ stabilizers at different thermal conditions [105][106]. As the formation of multimodal γ′ particles with different sizes occurs over a broad temperature range, the phase chemistry of γ′ will be highly size dependent. The changes in the chemistry of various γ′ (primary, secondary, and tertiary) have received significant attention since they have a direct influence on the performance [68][105][107][108][109]. Chen et al. [108][109], reported a high Al content in the smallest γ′ precipitates compared to the largest, while Ti showed an opposite trend during continuous cooling in a RR1000 Ni-based superalloy. This was attributed to the temperature and cooling rate at which the γ′ precipitates were formed. The smallest precipitates formed last, at the lowest temperature and cooling rate. A comparable observation is evident in the present investigation, where the secondary γ′ forms at a low temperature and cooling rate in comparison to the primary. The temperature dependence of γ′ chemical composition is further evidenced in supplementary Fig. S4, which shows the equilibrium chemical composition of γ′ as a function of temperature.

5. Conclusions

A correlative modelling approach capable of predicting solid-state phase transformations kinetics in metal AM was developed. This approach involves computational simulations with a semi-analytical heat transfer model and the MatCalc thermo-kinetic software. The method was used to predict the phase transformation kinetics and detailed morphology and chemistry of γ′ and MC during E-PBF of IN738 Ni-based superalloy. The main conclusions are:

  • 1.The computational simulations are in qualitative agreement with the experimental observations. This is particularly true for the γ′ size distribution along the build height, the multimodal size distribution of particles, and the phase fraction of MC carbides.
  • 2.The deviations between simulation and experiment in terms of γ′ phase fraction and location in the build are most likely attributed to a higher γ′ solvus temperature during the experiment than in the simulation, which is argued to be related to the absence of Ta in the MatCalc database.
  • 3.The dissolution and precipitation of γ′ occur fast and under non-equilibrium conditions. The level of γ′ dissolution determines the gradient in γ′ size distribution along the build. After thermal cycling, the final cooling to room temperature has further significant impacts on the final γ′ size, morphology, and distribution.
  • 4.A negligible amount of γ′ forms in the first deposited layer before subsequent layer deposition, and a small amount of γ′ may also form in the powder induced by the 1000 °C elevated build temperature before melting.

Our findings confirm the suitability of MatCalc to predict the microstructural evolution at various positions throughout a build in a Ni-based superalloy during E-PBF. It also showcases the suitability of a tool which was originally developed for traditional thermo-mechanical processing of alloys to the new additive manufacturing context. Our simulation capabilities are likely extendable to other alloy systems that undergo solid-state phase transformations implemented in MatCalc (various steels, Ni-based superalloys, and Al-alloys amongst others) as well as other AM processes such as L-DED and L-PBF which have different thermal cycle characteristics. New tools to predict the microstructural evolution and properties during metal AM are important as they provide new insights into the complexities of AM. This will enable control and design of AM microstructures towards advanced materials properties and performances.

CRediT authorship contribution statement

Primig Sophie: Writing – review & editing, Supervision, Resources, Project administration, Funding acquisition, Conceptualization. Adomako Nana Kwabena: Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing, Visualization, Software, Investigation, Formal analysis, Conceptualization. Haghdadi Nima: Writing – review & editing, Supervision, Project administration, Methodology, Conceptualization. Dingle James F.L.: Methodology, Conceptualization, Software, Writing – review & editing, Visualization. Kozeschnik Ernst: Writing – review & editing, Software, Methodology. Liao Xiaozhou: Writing – review & editing, Project administration, Funding acquisition. Ringer Simon P: Writing – review & editing, Project administration, Funding acquisition.

Declaration of Competing Interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.


This research was sponsored by the Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science under the auspices of the AUSMURI program – which is a part of the Commonwealth’s Next Generation Technologies Fund. The authors acknowledge the facilities and the scientific and technical assistance at the Electron Microscope Unit (EMU) within the Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre (MWAC) at UNSW Sydney and Microscopy Australia. Nana Adomako is supported by a UNSW Scientia PhD scholarship. Michael Haines’ (UNSW Sydney) contribution to the revised version of the original manuscript is thankfully acknowledged.

Appendix A. Supplementary material

Download : Download Word document (462KB)

Supplementary material.

Data Availability

Data will be made available on request.


Study on the critical sediment concentration determining the optimal transport capability of submarine sediment flows with different particle size composition

Study on the critical sediment concentration determining the optimal transport capability of submarine sediment flows with different particle size composition

Yupeng Ren abc, Huiguang Zhou cd, Houjie Wang ab, Xiao Wu ab, Guohui Xu cd, Qingsheng Meng cd


해저 퇴적물 흐름은 퇴적물을 심해로 운반하는 주요 수단 중 하나이며, 종종 장거리를 이동하고 수십 또는 수백 킬로미터에 걸쳐 상당한 양의 퇴적물을 운반합니다. 그것의 강력한 파괴력은 종종 이동 과정에서 잠수함 유틸리티에 심각한 손상을 초래합니다.

퇴적물 흐름의 퇴적물 농도는 주변 해수와의 밀도차를 결정하며, 이 밀도 차이는 퇴적물 흐름의 흐름 능력을 결정하여 이송된 퇴적물의 최종 퇴적 위치에 영향을 미칩니다. 본 논문에서는 다양한 미사 및 점토 중량비(미사/점토 비율이라고 함)를 갖는 다양한 퇴적물 농도의 퇴적물 흐름을 수로 테스트를 통해 연구합니다.

우리의 테스트 결과는 특정 퇴적물 구성에 대해 퇴적물 흐름이 가장 빠르게 이동하는 임계 퇴적물 농도가 있음을 나타냅니다. 4가지 미사/점토 비율 각각에 대한 임계 퇴적물 농도와 이에 상응하는 최대 속도가 구해집니다. 결과는 점토 함량이 임계 퇴적물 농도와 선형적으로 음의 상관 관계가 있음을 나타냅니다.

퇴적물 농도가 증가함에 따라 퇴적물의 흐름 거동은 흐름 상태에서 붕괴된 상태로 변환되고 흐름 거동이 변화하는 두 탁한 현탁액의 유체 특성은 모두 Bingham 유체입니다.

또한 본 논문에서는 퇴적물 흐름 내 입자 배열을 분석하여 위에서 언급한 결과에 대한 미시적 설명도 제공합니다.

Submarine sediment flows is one of the main means for transporting sediment to the deep sea, often traveling long-distance and transporting significant volumes of sediment for tens or even hundreds of kilometers. Its strong destructive force often causes serious damage to submarine utilities on its course of movement. The sediment concentration of the sediment flow determines its density difference with the ambient seawater, and this density difference determines the flow ability of the sediment flow, and thus affects the final deposition locations of the transported sediment. In this paper, sediment flows of different sediment concentration with various silt and clay weight ratios (referred to as silt/clay ratio) are studied using flume tests. Our test results indicate that there is a critical sediment concentration at which sediment flows travel the fastest for a specific sediment composition. The critical sediment concentrations and their corresponding maximum velocities for each of the four silt/clay ratios are obtained. The results further indicate that the clay content is linearly negatively correlated with the critical sediment concentration. As the sediment concentration increases, the flow behaviors of sediment flows transform from the flow state to the collapsed state, and the fluid properties of the two turbid suspensions with changing flow behaviors are both Bingham fluids. Additionally, this paper also provides a microscopic explanation of the above-mentioned results by analyzing the arrangement of particles within the sediment flow.


Submarine sediment flows are important carriers for sea floor sediment movement and may carry and transport significant volumes of sediment for tens or even hundreds of kilometers (Prior et al., 1987; Pirmez and Imran, 2003; Zhang et al., 2018). Earthquakes, storms, and floods may all trigger submarine sediment flow events (Hsu et al., 2008; Piper and Normark, 2009; Pope et al., 2017b; Gavey et al., 2017). Sediment flows have strong forces during the movement, which will cause great harm to submarine structures such as cables and pipelines (Pope et al., 2017a). It was first confirmed that the cable breaking event caused by the sediment flow occurred in 1929. The sediment flow triggered by the Grand Banks earthquake damaged 12 cables. According to the time sequence of the cable breaking, the maximum velocity of the sediment flow is as high as 28 m/s (Heezen and Ewing, 1952; Kuenen, 1952; Heezen et al., 1954). Subsequent research shows that the lowest turbidity velocity that can break the cable also needs to reach 19 m/s (Piper et al., 1988). Since then, there have been many damage events of submarine cables and oil and gas pipelines caused by sediment flows in the world (Hsu et al., 2008; Carter et al., 2012; Cattaneo et al., 2012; Carter et al., 2014). During its movement, the sediment flow will gradually deposit a large amount of sediment carried by it along the way, that is, the deposition process of the sediment flow. On the one hand, this process brings a large amount of terrestrial nutrients and other materials to the ocean, while on the other hand, it causes damage and burial to benthic organisms, thus forming the largest sedimentary accumulation on Earth – submarine fans, which are highly likely to become good reservoirs for oil and gas resources (Daly, 1936; Yuan et al., 2010; Wu et al., 2022). The study on sediment flows (such as, the study of flow velocity and the forces acting on seabed structures) can provide important references for the safe design of seabed structures, the protection of submarine ecosystems, and exploration of turbidity sediments related oil and gas deposits. Therefore, it is of great significance to study the movement of sediment flows.

The sediment flow, as a highly sediment-concentrated fluid flowing on the sea floor, has a dense bottom layer and a dilute turbulent cloud. Observations at the Monterey Canyon indicated that the sediment flow can maintain its movement over long distances if its bottom has a relatively high sediment concentration. This dense bottom layer can be very destructive along its movement path to any facilities on the sea floor (Paull et al., 2018; Heerema et al., 2020; Wang et al., 2020). The sediment flow mentioned in this research paper is the general term of sediment density flow.

The sediment flow, which occurs on the seafloor, has the potential to cause erosion along its path. In this process, the suspended sediment is replenished, allowing the sediment flow to maintain its continuous flow capacity (Zhao et al., 2018). The dynamic force of sediment flow movement stem from its own gravity and density difference with surrounding water. In cases that the gravity drive of the slope is absent (on a flat sea floor), the flow velocity and distance of sediment flows are essentially determined by the sediment composition and concentration of the sediment flows as previous studies have demonstrated. Ilstad et al. (2004) conducted underwater flow tests in a sloped tank and employed high speed video camera to perform particle tracking. The results indicated that the premixed sand-rich and clay-rich slurries demonstrated different flow velocity and flow behavior. Using mixed kaolinite(d50 = 6 μm) and silica flour(d50 = 9 μm) in three compositions with total volumetric concentration ranged 22% or 28%, Felix and Peakall (2006) carried out underwater flow tests in a 5° slope Perspex channel and found that the flow ability of sediment flows is different depending on sediment compositions and concentrations. Sumner et al. (2009) used annular flume experiments to investigate the depositional dynamics and deposits of waning sediment-laden flows, finding that decelerating fast flows with fixed sand content and variable mud content resulted in four different deposit types. Chowdhury and Testik (2011) used lock-exchange tank, and experimented the kaolin clay sediment flows in the concentration range of 25–350 g/L, and predicted the fluid mud sediment flows propagation characteristics, but this study focused on giving sediment flows propagate phase transition time parameters, and is limited to clay. Lv et al. (2017) found through experiments that the rheological properties and flow behavior of kaolin clay (d50 = 3.7 μm) sediment flows were correlated to clay concentrations. In the field monitoring conducted by Liu et al. (2023) at the Manila Trench in the South China Sea in 2021, significant differences in the velocity, movement distance, and flow morphology of turbidity currents were observed. These differences may be attributed to variations in the particle composition of the turbidity currents.

On low and gentle slopes, although sediment flow with sand as the main sediment composition moves faster, it is difficult to propagate over long distances because sand has greater settling velocity and subaqueous angle of repose. Whereas the sediment flows with silt and clay as main composition may maintain relatively stable currents. Although its movement speed is slow, it has the ability to propagate over long distances because of the low settling rate of the fine particles (Ilstad et al., 2004; Liu et al., 2023). In a field observation at the Gaoping submarine canyon, the sediments collected from the sediment flows exhibited grain size gradation and the sediment was mostly composed of silt and clay (Liu et al., 2012). At the largest deltas in the world, for instance, the Mississippi River Delta, the sediments are mainly composed of silt and clay, which generally distributed along the coast in a wide range and provided the sediment sources for further distribution. The sediment flows originated and transported sediment from the coast to the deep sea are therefore share the same sediment compositions as delta sediments. To study the sediment flows composed of silt and clay is of great importance.

The sediment concentration of the sediment flows determines the density difference between the sediment flows and the ambient water and plays a key role in its flow ability. For the sediment flow with sediment composed of silt and clay, low sediment concentration means low density and therefore leads to low flow ability; however, although high sediment concentration results in high density, since there is cohesion between fine particles, it changes fluid properties and leads to low flow ability as well. Therefore, there should be a critical sediment concentration with mixed composition of silt and clay, at which the sediment flow maintains its strongest flow capacity and have the highest movement speed. In other words, the two characteristics of particle diameter and concentration of the sediment flow determine its own motion ability, which, if occurs, may become the most destructive force to submarine structures.

The objectives of this work was to study how the sediment composition (measured in relative weight of silt and clay, and referred as silt/clay ratio) and sediment concentration affect flow ability and behavior of the sediment flows, and to quantify the critical sediment concentration at which the sediment flows reached the greatest flow velocity under the experiment setting. We used straight flume without slope and conducted a series of flume tests with varying sediment compositions (silt-rich or clay-rich) and concentrations (96 to 1212 g/L). Each sediment flow sample was tested and analyzed for rheological properties using a rheometer, in order to characterize the relationship between flow behavior and rheological properties. Combined with the particle diameter, density and viscosity characteristics of the sediment flows measured in the experiment, a numerical modeling study is conducted, which are mutually validated with the experimental results.

The sediment concentration determines the arrangements of the sediment particles in the turbid suspension, and the arrangement impacts the fluid properties of the turbid suspension. The microscopic mode of particle arrangement in the turbid suspension can be constructed to further analyze the relationship between the fluid properties of turbid suspension and the flow behaviors of the sediment flow, and then characterize the critical sediment concentration at which the sediment flow runs the fastest. A simplified microscopic model of particle arrangement in turbid suspension was constructed to analyze the microscopic arrangement characteristics of sediment particles in turbid suspension with the fastest velocity.

Section snippets

Equipment and materials

The sediment flows flow experiments were performed in a Perspex channel with smooth transparent walls. The layout and dimensions of the experimental set-up were shown in Fig. 1. The bottom of the channel was flat and straight, and a gate was arranged to separate the two tanks. In order to study the flow capacity of turbidity currents from the perspective of their own composition (particle size distribution and concentration), we used a straight channel instead of an inclined one, to avoid any

Relationship between sediment flow flow velocity and sediment concentration

After the sediment flow is generated, its movement in the first half (50 cm) of the channel is relatively stable, and there is obvious shock diffusion in the second half. The reason is that the excitation wave (similar to the surge) will be formed during the sediment flow movement, and its speed is much faster than the speed of the sediment flow head. When the excitation wave reaches the tail of the channel, it will be reflected, thus affecting the subsequent flow of the sediment flow.

Sediment flows motion simulation based on FLOW-3D

As a relatively mature 3D fluid simulation software, FLOW-3D can accurately predict the free surface flow, and has been used to simulate the movement process of sediment flows for many times (Heimsund, 2007). The model adopted in this paper is RNG turbulence model, which can better deal with the flow with high strain rate and is suitable for the simulation of sediment flows with variable shape during movement. The governing equations of the numerical model involved include continuity equation,


In this study, we conducted a series of sediment flow flume tests with mixed silt and clay sediment samples in four silt/clay ratios on a flat slope. Rheological measurements were carried out on turbid suspension samples and microstructure analysis of the sediment particle arrangements was conducted, we concluded that:

  • (1)The flow velocity of the sediment flow is controlled by the sediment concentration and its own particle diameter composition, the flow velocity increased with the increase of the

Declaration of Competing Interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant no. 42206055]; the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant no. 41976049]; and the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant no. 42272327].

References (39)

There are more references available in the full text version of this article.

Figure 11. Sketch of scour mechanism around USAF under random waves.

Scour Characteristics and Equilibrium Scour Depth Prediction around Umbrella Suction Anchor Foundation under Random Waves

by Ruigeng Hu 1,Hongjun Liu 2,Hao Leng 1,Peng Yu 3 andXiuhai Wang 1,2,*

1College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266000, China

2Key Lab of Marine Environment and Ecology (Ocean University of China), Ministry of Education, Qingdao 266000, China

3Qingdao Geo-Engineering Survering Institute, Qingdao 266100, China

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 20219(8), 886;

Received: 6 July 2021 / Revised: 8 August 2021 / Accepted: 13 August 2021 / Published: 17 August 2021

(This article belongs to the Section Ocean Engineering)



A series of numerical simulation were conducted to study the local scour around umbrella suction anchor foundation (USAF) under random waves. In this study, the validation was carried out firstly to verify the accuracy of the present model. Furthermore, the scour evolution and scour mechanism were analyzed respectively. In addition, two revised models were proposed to predict the equilibrium scour depth Seq around USAF. At last, a parametric study was carried out to study the effects of the Froude number Fr and Euler number Eu for the Seq. The results indicate that the present numerical model is accurate and reasonable for depicting the scour morphology under random waves. The revised Raaijmakers’s model shows good agreement with the simulating results of the present study when KCs,p < 8. The predicting results of the revised stochastic model are the most favorable for n = 10 when KCrms,a < 4. The higher Fr and Eu both lead to the more intensive horseshoe vortex and larger Seq.


scournumerical investigationrandom wavesequilibrium scour depthKC number

1. Introduction

The rapid expansion of cities tends to cause social and economic problems, such as environmental pollution and traffic jam. As a kind of clean energy, offshore wind power has developed rapidly in recent years. The foundation of offshore wind turbine (OWT) supports the upper tower, and suffers the cyclic loading induced by waves, tides and winds, which exerts a vital influence on the OWT system. The types of OWT foundation include the fixed and floating foundation, and the fixed foundation was used usually for nearshore wind turbine. After the construction of fixed foundation, the hydrodynamic field changes in the vicinity of the foundation, leading to the horseshoe vortex formation and streamline compression at the upside and sides of foundation respectively [1,2,3,4]. As a result, the neighboring soil would be carried away by the shear stress induced by vortex, and the scour hole would emerge in the vicinity of foundation. The scour holes increase the cantilever length, and weaken the lateral bearing capacity of foundation [5,6,7,8,9]. Moreover, the natural frequency of OWT system increases with the increase of cantilever length, causing the resonance occurs when the system natural frequency equals the wave or wind frequency [10,11,12]. Given that, an innovative foundation called umbrella suction anchor foundation (USAF) has been designed for nearshore wind power. The previous studies indicated the USAF was characterized by the favorable lateral bearing capacity with the low cost [6,13,14]. The close-up of USAF is shown in Figure 1, and it includes six parts: 1-interal buckets, 2-external skirt, 3-anchor ring, 4-anchor branch, 5-supporting rod, 6-telescopic hook. The detailed description and application method of USAF can be found in reference [13].

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Figure 1. The close-up of umbrella suction anchor foundation (USAF).

Numerical and experimental investigations of scour around OWT foundation under steady currents and waves have been extensively studied by many researchers [1,2,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24]. The seabed scour can be classified as two types according to Shields parameter θ, i.e., clear bed scour (θ < θcr) or live bed scour (θ > θcr). Due to the set of foundation, the adverse hydraulic pressure gradient exists at upstream foundation edges, resulting in the streamline separation between boundary layer flow and seabed. The separating boundary layer ascended at upstream anchor edges and developed into the horseshoe vortex. Then, the horseshoe vortex moved downstream gradually along the periphery of the anchor, and the vortex shed off continually at the lee-side of the anchor, i.e., wake vortex. The core of wake vortex is a negative pressure center, liking a vacuum cleaner. Hence, the soil particles were swirled into the negative pressure core and carried away by wake vortexes. At the same time, the onset of scour at rear side occurred. Finally, the wake vortex became downflow when the turbulence energy could not support the survival of wake vortex. According to Tavouktsoglou et al. [25], the scale of pile wall boundary layer is proportional to 1/ln(Rd) (Rd is pile Reynolds), which means the turbulence intensity induced by the flow-structure interaction would decrease with Rd increases, but the effects of Rd can be neglected only if the flow around the foundation is fully turbulent [26]. According to previous studies [1,15,27,28,29,30,31,32], the scour development around pile foundation under waves was significantly influenced by Shields parameter θ and KC number simultaneously (calculated by Equation (1)). Sand ripples widely existed around pile under waves in the case of live bed scour, and the scour morphology is related with θ and KC. Compared with θKC has a greater influence on the scour morphology [21,27,28]. The influence mechanism of KC on the scour around the pile is reflected in two aspects: the horseshoe vortex at upstream and wake vortex shedding at downstream.


where, Uwm is the maximum velocity of the undisturbed wave-induced oscillatory flow at the sea bottom above the wave boundary layer, T is wave period, and D is pile diameter.

There are two prerequisites to satisfy the formation of horseshoe vortex at upstream pile edges: (1) the incoming flow boundary layer with sufficient thickness and (2) the magnitude of upstream adverse pressure gradient making the boundary layer separating [1,15,16,18,20]. The smaller KC results the lower adverse pressure gradient, and the boundary layer cannot separate, herein, there is almost no horseshoe vortex emerging at upside of pile. Sumer et al. [1,15] carried out several sets of wave flume experiments under regular and irregular waves respectively, and the experiment results show that there is no horseshoe vortex when KC is less than 6. While the scale and lifespan of horseshoe vortex increase evidently with the increase of KC when KC is larger than 6. Moreover, the wake vortex contributes to the scour at lee-side of pile. Similar with the case of horseshoe vortex, there is no wake vortex when KC is less than 6. The wake vortex is mainly responsible for scour around pile when KC is greater than 6 and less than O(100), while horseshoe vortex controls scour nearly when KC is greater than O(100).

Sumer et al. [1] found that the equilibrium scour depth was nil around pile when KC was less than 6 under regular waves for live bed scour, while the equilibrium scour depth increased with the increase of KC. Based on that, Sumer proposed an equilibrium scour depth predicting equation (Equation (2)). Carreiras et al. [33] revised Sumer’s equation with m = 0.06 for nonlinear waves. Different with the findings of Sumer et al. [1] and Carreiras et al. [33], Corvaro et al. [21] found the scour still occurred for KC ≈ 4, and proposed the revised equilibrium scour depth predicting equation (Equation (3)) for KC > 4.

Rudolph and Bos [2] conducted a series of wave flume experiments to investigate the scour depth around monopile under waves only, waves and currents combined respectively, indicting KC was one of key parameters in influencing equilibrium scour depth, and proposed the equilibrium scour depth predicting equation (Equation (4)) for low KC (1 < KC < 10). Through analyzing the extensive data from published literatures, Raaijmakers and Rudolph [34] developed the equilibrium scour depth predicting equation (Equation (5)) for low KC, which was suitable for waves only, waves and currents combined. Khalfin [35] carried out several sets of wave flume experiments to study scour development around monopile, and proposed the equilibrium scour depth predicting equation (Equation (6)) for low KC (0.1 < KC < 3.5). Different with above equations, the Khalfin’s equation considers the Shields parameter θ and KC number simultaneously in predicting equilibrium scour depth. The flow reversal occurred under through in one wave period, so sand particles would be carried away from lee-side of pile to upside, resulting in sand particles backfilled into the upstream scour hole [20,29]. Considering the backfilling effects, Zanke et al. [36] proposed the equilibrium scour depth predicting equation (Equation (7)) around pile by theoretical analysis, and the equation is suitable for the whole range of KC number under regular waves and currents combined.


where, m = 0.03 for linear waves.



where, γ is safety factor, depending on design process, typically γ = 1.5, Kwave is correction factor considering wave action, Khw is correction factor considering water depth.


where, hw is water depth.


where, θ is shields parameter, θcr is critical shields parameter.


where, u is near-bed orbital velocity amplitude, uc is critical velocity corresponding the onset of sediment motion.


where, n is the 1/n’th highest wave for random waves

For predicting equilibrium scour depth under irregular waves, i.e., random waves, Sumer and Fredsøe [16] found it’s suitable to take Equation (2) to predict equilibrium scour depth around pile under random waves with the root-mean-square (RMS) value of near-bed orbital velocity amplitude Um and peak wave period TP to calculate KC. Khalfin [35] recommended the RMS wave height Hrms and peak wave period TP were used to calculate KC for Equation (6). References [37,38,39,40] developed a series of stochastic theoretical models to predict equilibrium scour depth around pile under random waves, nonlinear random waves plus currents respectively. The stochastic approach thought the 1/n’th highest wave were responsible for scour in vicinity of pile under random waves, and the KC was calculated in Equation (8) with Um and mean zero-crossing wave period Tz. The results calculated by Equation (8) agree well with experimental values of Sumer and Fredsøe [16] if the 1/10′th highest wave was used. To author’s knowledge, the stochastic approach proposed by Myrhaug and Rue [37] is the only theoretical model to predict equilibrium scour depth around pile under random waves for the whole range of KC number in published documents. Other methods of predicting scour depth under random waves are mainly originated from the equation for regular waves-only, waves and currents combined, which are limited to the large KC number, such as KC > 6 for Equation (2) and KC > 4 for Equation (3) respectively. However, situations with relatively low KC number (KC < 4) often occur in reality, for example, monopile or suction anchor for OWT foundations in ocean environment. Moreover, local scour around OWT foundations under random waves has not yet been investigated fully. Therefore, further study are still needed in the aspect of scour around OWT foundations with low KC number under random waves. Given that, this study presents the scour sediment model around umbrella suction anchor foundation (USAF) under random waves. In this study, a comparison of equilibrium scour depth around USAF between this present numerical models and the previous theoretical models and experimental results was presented firstly. Then, this study gave a comprehensive analysis for the scour mechanisms around USAF. After that, two revised models were proposed according to the model of Raaijmakers and Rudolph [34] and the stochastic model developed by Myrhaug and Rue [37] respectively to predict the equilibrium scour depth. Finally, a parametric study was conducted to study the effects of the Froude number (Fr) and Euler number (Eu) to equilibrium scour depth respectively.

2. Numerical Method

2.1. Governing Equations of Flow

The following equations adopted in present model are already available in Flow 3D software. The authors used these theoretical equations to simulate scour in random waves without modification. The incompressible viscous fluid motion satisfies the Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) equation, so the present numerical model solves RANS equations:




where, VF is the volume fraction; uv, and w are the velocity components in xyz direction respectively with Cartesian coordinates; Ai is the area fraction; ρf is the fluid density, fi is the viscous fluid acceleration, Gi is the fluid body acceleration (i = xyz).

2.2. Turbulent Model

The turbulence closure is available by the turbulent model, such as one-equation, the one-equation k-ε model, the standard k-ε model, RNG k-ε turbulent model and large eddy simulation (LES) model. The LES model requires very fine mesh grid, so the computational time is large, which hinders the LES model application in engineering. The RNG k-ε model can reduce computational time greatly with high accuracy in the near-wall region. Furthermore, the RNG k-ε model computes the maximum turbulent mixing length dynamically in simulating sediment scour model. Therefore, the RNG k-ε model was adopted to study the scour around anchor under random waves [41,42].



where, kT is specific kinetic energy involved with turbulent velocity, GT is the turbulent energy generated by buoyancy; εT is the turbulent energy dissipating rate, PT is the turbulent energy, Diffε and DiffkT are diffusion terms associated with VFAiCDIS1CDIS2 and CDIS3 are dimensionless parameters, and CDIS1CDIS3 have default values of 1.42, 0.2 respectively. CDIS2 can be obtained from PT and kT.

2.3. Sediment Scour Model

The sand particles may suffer four processes under waves, i.e., entrainment, bed load transport, suspended load transport, and deposition, so the sediment scour model should depict the above processes efficiently. In present numerical simulation, the sediment scour model includes the following aspects:

2.3.1. Entrainment and Deposition

The combination of entrainment and deposition determines the net scour rate of seabed in present sediment scour model. The entrainment lift velocity of sand particles was calculated as [43]:


where, αi is the entrainment parameter, ns is the outward point perpendicular to the seabed, d* is the dimensionless diameter of sand particles, which was calculated by Equation (15), θcr is the critical Shields parameter, g is the gravity acceleration, di is the diameter of sand particles, ρi is the density of seabed species.


where μf is the fluid dynamic viscosity.

In Equation (14), the entrainment parameter αi confirms the rate at which sediment erodes when the given shear stress is larger than the critical shear stress, and the recommended value 0.018 was adopted according to the experimental data of Mastbergen and Von den Berg [43]. ns is the outward pointing normal to the seabed interface, and ns = (0,0,1) according to the Cartesian coordinates used in present numerical model.

The shields parameter was obtained from the following equation:


where, Uf,m is the maximum value of the near-bed friction velocity; d50 is the median diameter of sand particles. The detailed calculation procedure of θ was available in Soulsby [44].

The critical shields parameter θcr was obtained from the Equation (17) [44]


The sand particles begin to deposit on seabed when the turbulence energy weaken and cann’t support the particles suspending. The setting velocity of the particles was calculated from the following equation [44]:


where νf is the fluid kinematic viscosity.

2.3.2. Bed Load Transport

This is called bed load transport when the sand particles roll or bounce over the seabed and always have contact with seabed. The bed load transport velocity was computed by [45]:


where, qb,i is the bed load transport rate, which was obtained from Equation (20), δi is the bed load thickness, which was calculated by Equation (21), cb,i is the volume fraction of sand i in the multiple species, fb is the critical packing fraction of the seabed.



2.3.3. Suspended Load Transport

Through the following transport equation, the suspended sediment concentration could be acquired.


where, Cs,i is the suspended sand particles mass concentration of sand i in the multiple species, us,i is the sand particles velocity of sand iDf is the diffusivity.

The velocity of sand i in the multiple species could be obtained from the following equation:


where, u¯�¯ is the velocity of mixed fluid-particles, which can be calculated by the RANS equation with turbulence model, cs,i is the suspended sand particles volume concentration, which was computed from Equation (24).


3. Model Setup

The seabed-USAF-wave three-dimensional scour numerical model was built using Flow-3D software. As shown in Figure 2, the model includes sandy seabed, USAF model, sea water, two baffles and porous media. The dimensions of USAF are shown in Table 1. The sandy bed (210 m in length, 30 m in width and 11 m in height) is made up of uniform fine sand with median diameter d50 = 0.041 cm. The USAF model includes upper steel tube with the length of 20 m, which was installed in the middle of seabed. The location of USAF is positioned at 140 m from the upstream inflow boundary and 70 m from the downstream outflow boundary. Two baffles were installed at two ends of seabed. In order to eliminate the wave reflection basically, the porous media was set at the outflow side on the seabed.

Jmse 09 00886 g002 550

Figure 2. (a) The sketch of seabed-USAF-wave three-dimensional model; (b) boundary condation:Wv-wave boundary, S-symmetric boundary, O-outflow boundary; (c) USAF model.

Table 1. Numerical simulating cases.


3.1. Mesh Geometric Dimensions

In the simulation of the scour under the random waves, the model includes the umbrella suction anchor foundation, seabed and fluid. As shown in Figure 3, the model mesh includes global mesh grid and nested mesh grid, and the total number of grids is 1,812,000. The basic procedure for building mesh grid consists of two steps. Step 1: Divide the global mesh using regular hexahedron with size of 0.6 × 0.6. The global mesh area is cubic box, embracing the seabed and whole fluid volume, and the dimensions are 210 m in length, 30 m in width and 32 m in height. The details of determining the grid size can see the following mesh sensitivity section. Step 2: Set nested fine mesh grid in vicinity of the USAF with size of 0.3 × 0.3 so as to shorten the computation cost and improve the calculation accuracy. The encryption range is −15 m to 15 m in x direction, −15 m to 15 m in y direction and 0 m to 32 m in z direction, respectively. In order to accurately capture the free-surface dynamics, such as the fluid-air interface, the volume of fluid (VOF) method was adopted for tracking the free water surface. One specific algorithm called FAVORTM (Fractional Area/Volume Obstacle Representation) was used to define the fractional face areas and fractional volumes of the cells which are open to fluid flow.

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Figure 3. The sketch of mesh grid.

3.2. Boundary Conditions

As shown in Figure 2, the initial fluid length is 210 m as long as seabed. A wave boundary was specified at the upstream offshore end. The details of determining the random wave spectrum can see the following wave parameters section. The outflow boundary was set at the downstream onshore end. The symmetry boundary was used at the top and two sides of the model. The symmetric boundaries were the better strategy to improve the computation efficiency and save the calculation cost [46]. At the seabed bottom, the wall boundary was adopted, which means the u = v = w= 0. Besides, the upper steel tube of USAF was set as no-slip condition.

3.3. Wave Parameters

The random waves with JONSWAP wave spectrum were used for all simulations as realistic representation of offshore conditions. The unidirectional JONSWAP frequency spectrum was described as [47]:


where, α is wave energy scale parameter, which is calculated by Equation (26), ω is frequency, ωp is wave spectrum peak frequency, which can be obtained from Equation (27). γ is wave spectrum peak enhancement factor, in this study γ = 3.3. σ is spectral width factor, σ equals 0.07 for ω ≤ ωp and 0.09 for ω > ωp respectively.



where, X is fetch length, U is average wind velocity at 10 m height from mean sea level.

In present numerical model, the input key parameters include X and U for wave boundary with JONSWAP wave spectrum. The objective wave height and period are available by different combinations of X and U. In this study, we designed 9 cases with different wave heights, periods and water depths for simulating scour around USAF under random waves (see Table 2). For random waves, the wave steepness ε and Ursell number Ur were acquired form Equations (28) and (29) respectively



where, Hs is significant wave height, Ta is average wave period, k is wave number, hw is water depth. The Shield parameter θ satisfies θ > θcr for all simulations in current study, indicating the live bed scour prevails.

Table 2. Numerical simulating cases.


3.4. Mesh Sensitivity

In this section, a mesh sensitivity analysis was conducted to investigate the influence of mesh grid size to results and make sure the calculation is mesh size independent and converged. Three mesh grid size were chosen: Mesh 1—global mesh grid size of 0.75 × 0.75, nested fine mesh grid size of 0.4 × 0.4, and total number of grids 1,724,000, Mesh 2—global mesh grid size of 0.6 × 0.6, nested fine mesh grid size of 0.3 × 0.3, and total number of grids 1,812,000, Mesh 3—global mesh grid size of 0.4 × 0.4, nested fine mesh grid size of 0.2 × 0.2, and total number of grids 1,932,000. The near-bed shear velocity U* is an important factor for influencing scour process [1,15], so U* at the position of (4,0,11.12) was evaluated under three mesh sizes. As the Figure 4 shown, the maximum error of shear velocity ∆U*1,2 is about 39.8% between the mesh 1 and mesh 2, and 4.8% between the mesh 2 and mesh 3. According to the mesh sensitivity criterion adopted by Pang et al. [48], it’s reasonable to think the results are mesh size independent and converged with mesh 2. Additionally, the present model was built according to prototype size, and the mesh size used in present model is larger than the mesh size adopted by Higueira et al. [49] and Corvaro et al. [50]. If we choose the smallest cell size, it will take too much time. For example, the simulation with Mesh3 required about 260 h by using a computer with Intel Xeon Scalable Gold 4214 CPU @24 Cores, 2.2 GHz and 64.00 GB RAM. Therefore, in this case, considering calculation accuracy and computation efficiency, the mesh 2 was chosen for all the simulation in this study.

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Figure 4. Comparison of near-bed shear velocity U* with different mesh grid size.

The nested mesh block was adopted for seabed in vicinity of the USAF, which was overlapped with the global mesh block. When two mesh blocks overlap each other, the governing equations are by default solved on the mesh block with smaller average cell size (i.e., higher grid resolution). It is should be noted that the Flow 3D software used the moving mesh captures the scour evolution and automatically adjusts the time step size to be as large as possible without exceeding any of the stability limits, affecting accuracy, or unduly increasing the effort required to enforce the continuity condition [51].

3.5. Model Validation

In order to verify the reliability of the present model, the results of present study were compared with the experimental data of Khosronejad et al. [52]. The experiment was conducted in an open channel with a slender vertical pile under unidirectional currents. The comparison of scour development between the present results and the experimental results is shown in Figure 5. The Figure 5 reveals that the present results agree well with the experimental data of Khosronejad et al. [52]. In the first stage, the scour depth increases rapidly. After that, the scour depth achieves a maximum value gradually. The equilibrium scour depth calculated by the present model is basically corresponding with the experimental results of Khosronejad et al. [52], although scour depth in the present model is slightly larger than the experimental results at initial stage.

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Figure 5. Comparison of time evolution of scour between the present study and Khosronejad et al. [52], Petersen et al. [17].

Secondly, another comparison was further conducted between the results of present study and the experimental data of Petersen et al. [17]. The experiment was carried out in a flume with a circular vertical pile in combined waves and current. Figure 4 shows a comparison of time evolution of scour depth between the simulating and the experimental results. As Figure 5 indicates, the scour depth in this study has good overall agreement with the experimental results proposed in Petersen et al. [17]. The equilibrium scour depth calculated by the present model is 0.399 m, which equals to the experimental value basically. Overall, the above verifications prove the present model is accurate and capable in dealing with sediment scour under waves.

In addition, in order to calibrate and validate the present model for hydrodynamic parameters, the comparison of water surface elevation was carried out with laboratory experiments conducted by Stahlmann [53] for wave gauge No. 3. The Figure 6 depicts the surface wave profiles between experiments and numerical model results. The comparison indicates that there is a good agreement between the model results and experimental values, especially the locations of wave crest and trough. Comparison of the surface elevation instructs the present model has an acceptable relative error, and the model is a calibrated in terms of the hydrodynamic parameters.

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Figure 6. Comparison of surface elevation between the present study and Stahlmann [53].

Finally, another comparison was conducted for equilibrium scour depth or maximum scour depth under random waves with the experimental data of Sumer and Fredsøe [16] and Schendel et al. [22]. The Figure 7 shows the comparison between the numerical results and experimental data of Run01, Run05, Run21 and Run22 in Sumer and Fredsøe [16] and test A05 and A09 in Schendel et al. [22]. As shown in Figure 7, the equilibrium scour depth or maximum scour depth distributed within the ±30 error lines basically, meaning the reliability and accuracy of present model for predicting equilibrium scour depth around foundation in random waves. However, compared with the experimental values, the present model overestimated the equilibrium scour depth generally. Given that, a calibration for scour depth was carried out by multiplying the mean reduced coefficient 0.85 in following section.

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Figure 7. Comparison of equilibrium (or maximum) scour depth between the present study and Sumer and Fredsøe [16], Schendel et al. [22].

Through the various examination for hydrodynamic and morphology parameters, it can be concluded that the present model is a validated and calibrated model for scour under random waves. Thus, the present numerical model would be utilized for scour simulation around foundation under random waves.

4. Numerical Results and Discussions

4.1. Scour Evolution

Figure 8 displays the scour evolution for case 1–9. As shown in Figure 8a, the scour depth increased rapidly at the initial stage, and then slowed down at the transition stage, which attributes to the backfilling occurred in scour holes under live bed scour condition, resulting in the net scour decreasing. Finally, the scour reached the equilibrium state when the amount of sediment backfilling equaled to that of scouring in the scour holes, i.e., the net scour transport rate was nil. Sumer and Fredsøe [16] proposed the following formula for the scour development under waves


where Tc is time scale of scour process.

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Figure 8. Time evolution of scour for case 1–9: (a) Case 1–5; (b) Case 6–9.

The computing time is 3600 s and the scour development curves in Figure 8 kept fluctuating, meaning it’s still not in equilibrium scour stage in these cases. According to Sumer and Fredsøe [16], the equilibrium scour depth can be acquired by fitting the data with Equation (30). From Figure 8, it can be seen that the scour evolution obtained from Equation (30) is consistent with the present study basically at initial stage, but the scour depth predicted by Equation (30) developed slightly faster than the simulating results and the Equation (30) overestimated the scour depth to some extent. Overall, the whole tendency of the results calculated by Equation (30) agrees well with the simulating results of the present study, which means the Equation (30) is applicable to depict the scour evolution around USAF under random waves.

4.2. Scour Mechanism under Random Waves

The scour morphology and scour evolution around USAF are similar under random waves in case 1~9. Taking case 7 as an example, the scour morphology is shown in Figure 9.

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Figure 9. Scour morphology under different times for case 7.

From Figure 9, at the initial stage (t < 1200 s), the scour occurred at upstream foundation edges between neighboring anchor branches. The maximum scour depth appeared at the lee-side of the USAF. Correspondingly, the sediments deposited at the periphery of the USAF, and the location of the maximum accretion depth was positioned at an angle of about 45° symmetrically with respect to the wave propagating direction in the lee-side of the USAF. After that, when t > 2400 s, the location of the maximum scour depth shifted to the upside of the USAF at an angle of about 45° with respect to the wave propagating direction.

According to previous studies [1,15,16,19,30,31], the horseshoe vortex, streamline compression and wake vortex shedding were responsible for scour around foundation. The Figure 10 displays the distribution of flow velocity in vicinity of foundation, which reflects the evolving processes of horseshoe vertex.

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Figure 10. Velocity profile around USAF: (a) Flow runup and down stream at upstream anchor edges; (b) Horseshoe vortex at upstream anchor edges; (c) Flow reversal during wave through stage at lee side.

As shown in Figure 10, the inflow tripped to the upstream edges of the USAF and it was blocked by the upper tube of USAF. Then, the downflow formed the horizontal axis clockwise vortex and rolled on the seabed bypassing the tube, that is, the horseshoe vortex (Figure 11). The Figure 12 displays the turbulence intensity around the tube on the seabed. From Figure 12, it can be seen that the turbulence intensity was high-intensity with respect to the region of horseshoe vortex. This phenomenon occurred because of drastic water flow momentum exchanging in the horseshoe vortex. As a result, it created the prominent shear stress on the seabed, causing the local scour at the upstream edges of USAF. Besides, the horseshoe vortex moved downstream gradually along the periphery of the tube and the wake vortex shed off continually at the lee-side of the USAF, i.e., wake vortex.

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Figure 11. Sketch of scour mechanism around USAF under random waves.

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Figure 12. Turbulence intensity: (a) Turbulence intensity of horseshoe vortex; (b) Turbulence intensity of wake vortex; (c) Turbulence intensity of accretion area.

The core of wake vortex is a negative pressure center, liking a vacuum cleaner [11,42]. Hence, the soil particles were swirled into the negative pressure core and carried away by wake vortex. At the same time, the onset of scour at rear side occurred. Finally, the wake vortex became downflow at the downside of USAF. As is shown in Figure 12, the turbulence intensity was low where the downflow occurred at lee-side, which means the turbulence energy may not be able to support the survival of wake vortex, leading to accretion happening. As mentioned in previous section, the formation of horseshoe vortex was dependent with adverse pressure gradient at upside of foundation. As shown in Figure 13, the evaluated range of pressure distribution is −15 m to 15 m in x direction. The t = 450 s and t = 1800 s indicate that the wave crest and trough arrived at the upside and lee-side of the foundation respectively, and the t = 350 s was neither the wave crest nor trough. The adverse gradient pressure reached the maximum value at t = 450 s corresponding to the wave crest phase. In this case, it’s helpful for the wave boundary separating fully from seabed, which leads to the formation of horseshoe vortex with high turbulence intensity. Therefore, the horseshoe vortex is responsible for the local scour between neighboring anchor branches at upside of USAF. What’s more, due to the combination of the horseshoe vortex and streamline compression, the maximum scour depth occurred at the upside of the USAF with an angle of about 45° corresponding to the wave propagating direction. This is consistent with the findings of Pang et al. [48] and Sumer et al. [1,15] in case of regular waves. At the wave trough phase (t = 1800 s), the pressure gradient became positive at upstream USAF edges, which hindered the separating of wave boundary from seabed. In the meantime, the flow reversal occurred (Figure 10) and the adverse gradient pressure appeared at downstream USAF edges, but the magnitude of adverse gradient pressure at lee-side was lower than the upstream gradient pressure under wave crest. In this way, the intensity of horseshoe vortex behind the USAF under wave trough was low, which explains the difference of scour depth at upstream and downstream, i.e., the scour asymmetry. In other words, the scour asymmetry at upside and downside of USAF was attributed to wave asymmetry for random waves, and the phenomenon became more evident for nonlinear waves [21]. Briefly speaking, the vortex system at wave crest phase was mainly related to the scour process around USAF under random waves.

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Figure 13. Pressure distribution around USAF.

4.3. Equilibrium Scour Depth

The KC number is a key parameter for horseshoe vortex emerging and evolving under waves. According to Equation (1), when pile diameter D is fixed, the KC depends on the maximum near-bed velocity Uwm and wave period T. For random waves, the Uwm can be denoted by the root-mean-square (RMS) value of near-bed velocity amplitude Uwm,rms or the significant value of near-bed velocity amplitude Uwm,s. The Uwm,rms and Uwm,s for all simulating cases of the present study are listed in Table 3 and Table 4. The T can be denoted by the mean up zero-crossing wave period Ta, peak wave period Tp, significant wave period Ts, the maximum wave period Tm, 1/10′th highest wave period Tn = 1/10 and 1/5′th highest wave period Tn = 1/5 for random waves, so the different combinations of Uwm and T will acquire different KC. The Table 3 and Table 4 list 12 types of KC, for example, the KCrms,s was calculated by Uwm,rms and Ts. Sumer and Fredsøe [16] conducted a series of wave flume experiments to investigate the scour depth around monopile under random waves, and found the equilibrium scour depth predicting equation (Equation (2)) for regular waves was applicable for random waves with KCrms,p. It should be noted that the Equation (2) is only suitable for KC > 6 under regular waves or KCrms,p > 6 under random waves.

Table 3. Uwm,rms and KC for case 1~9.


Table 4. Uwm,s and KC for case 1~9.


Raaijmakers and Rudolph [34] proposed the equilibrium scour depth predicting model (Equation (5)) around pile under waves, which is suitable for low KC. The format of Equation (5) is similar with the formula proposed by Breusers [54], which can predict the equilibrium scour depth around pile at different scour stages. In order to verify the applicability of Raaijmakers’s model for predicting the equilibrium scour depth around USAF under random waves, a validation of the equilibrium scour depth Seq between the present study and Raaijmakers’s equation was conducted. The position where the scour depth Seq was evaluated is the location of the maximum scour depth, and it was depicted in Figure 14. The Figure 15 displays the comparison of Seq with different KC between the present study and Raaijmakers’s model.

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Figure 14. Sketch of the position where the Seq was evaluated.

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Figure 15. Comparison of the equilibrium scour depth between the present model and the model of Raaijmakers and Rudolph [34]: (aKCrms,sKCrms,a; (bKCrms,pKCrms,m; (cKCrms,n = 1/10KCrms,n = 1/5; (dKCs,sKCs,a; (eKCs,pKCs,m; (fKCs,n = 1/10KCs,n = 1/5.

As shown in Figure 15, there is an error in predicting Seq between the present study and Raaijmakers’s model, and Raaijmakers’s model underestimates the results generally. Although the error exists, the varying trend of Seq with KC obtained from Raaijmakers’s model is consistent with the present study basically. What’s more, the error is minimum and the Raaijmakers’s model is of relatively high accuracy for predicting scour around USAF under random waves by using KCs,p. Based on this, a further revision was made to eliminate the error as much as possible, i.e., add the deviation value ∆S/D in the Raaijmakers’s model. The revised equilibrium scour depth predicting equation based on Raaijmakers’s model can be written as


As the Figure 16 shown, through trial-calculation, when ∆S/D = 0.05, the results calculated by Equation (31) show good agreement with the simulating results of the present study. The maximum error is about 18.2% and the engineering requirements have been met basically. In order to further verify the accuracy of the revised model for large KC (KCs,p > 4) under random waves, a validation between the revised model and the previous experimental results [21]. The experiment was conducted in a flume (50 m in length, 1.0 m in width and 1.3 m in height) with a slender vertical pile (D = 0.1 m) under random waves. The seabed is composed of 0.13 m deep layer of sand with d50 = 0.6 mm and the water depth is 0.5 m for all tests. The significant wave height is 0.12~0.21 m and the KCs,p is 5.52~11.38. The comparison between the predicting results by Equation (31) and the experimental results of Corvaro et al. [21] is shown in Figure 17. From Figure 17, the experimental data evenly distributes around the predicted results and the prediction accuracy is favorable when KCs,p < 8. However, the gap between the predicting results and experimental data becomes large and the Equation (31) overestimates the equilibrium scour depth to some extent when KCs,p > 8.

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Figure 16. Comparison of Seq between the simulating results and the predicting values by Equation (31).

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Figure 17. Comparison of Seq/D between the Experimental results of Corvaro et al. [21] and the predicting values by Equation (31).

In ocean environment, the waves are composed of a train of sinusoidal waves with different frequencies and amplitudes. The energy of constituent waves with very large and very small frequencies is relatively low, and the energy of waves is mainly concentrated in a certain range of moderate frequencies. Myrhaug and Rue [37] thought the 1/n’th highest wave was responsible for scour and proposed the stochastic model to predict the equilibrium scour depth around pile under random waves for full range of KC. Noteworthy is that the KC was denoted by KCrms,a in the stochastic model. To verify the application of the stochastic model for predicting scour depth around USAF, a validation between the simulating results of present study and predicting results by the stochastic model with n = 2,3,5,10,20,500 was carried out respectively.

As shown in Figure 18, compared with the simulating results, the stochastic model underestimates the equilibrium scour depth around USAF generally. Although the error exists, the varying trend of Seq with KCrms,a obtained from the stochastic model is consistent with the present study basically. What’s more, the gap between the predicting values by stochastic model and the simulating results decreases with the increase of n, but for large n, for example n = 500, the varying trend diverges between the predicting values and simulating results, meaning it’s not feasible only by increasing n in stochastic model to predict the equilibrium scour depth around USAF.

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Figure 18. Comparison of Seq between the simulating results and the predicting values by Equation (8).

The Figure 19 lists the deviation value ∆Seq/D′ between the predicting values and simulating results with different KCrms,a and n. Then, fitted the relationship between the ∆S′and n under different KCrms,a, and the fitting curve can be written by Equation (32). The revised stochastic model (Equation (33)) can be acquired by adding ∆Seq/D′ to Equation (8).



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Figure 19. The fitting line between ∆S′and n.

The comparison between the predicting results by Equation (33) and the simulating results of present study is shown in Figure 20. According to the Figure 20, the varying trend of Seq with KCrms,a obtained from the stochastic model is consistent with the present study basically. Compared with predicting results by the stochastic model, the results calculated by Equation (33) is favorable. Moreover, comparison with simulating results indicates that the predicting results are the most favorable for n = 10, which is consistent with the findings of Myrhaug and Rue [37] for equilibrium scour depth predicting around slender pile in case of random waves.

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Figure 20. Comparison of Seq between the simulating results and the predicting values by Equation (33).

In order to further verify the accuracy of the Equation (33) for large KC (KCrms,a > 4) under random waves, a validation was conducted between the Equation (33) and the previous experimental results of Sumer and Fredsøe [16] and Corvaro et al. [21]. The details of experiments conducted by Corvaro et al. [21] were described in above section. Sumer and Fredsøe [16] investigated the local scour around pile under random waves. The experiments were conducted in a wave basin with a slender vertical pile (D = 0.032, 0.055 m). The seabed is composed of 0.14 m deep layer of sand with d50 = 0.2 mm and the water depth was maintained at 0.5 m. The JONSWAP wave spectrum was used and the KCrms,a was 5.29~16.95. The comparison between the predicting results by Equation (33) and the experimental results of Sumer and Fredsøe [16] and Corvaro et al. [21] are shown in Figure 21. From Figure 21, contrary to the case of low KCrms,a (KCrms,a < 4), the error between the predicting values and experimental results increases with decreasing of n for KCrms,a > 4. Therefore, the predicting results are the most favorable for n = 2 when KCrms,a > 4.

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Figure 21. Comparison of Seq between the experimental results of Sumer and Fredsøe [16] and Corvaro et al. [21] and the predicting values by Equation (33).

Noteworthy is that the present model was built according to prototype size, so the errors between the numerical results and experimental data of References [16,21] may be attribute to the scale effects. In laboratory experiments on scouring process, it is typically impossible to ensure a rigorous similarity of all physical parameters between the model and prototype structure, leading to the scale effects in the laboratory experiments. To avoid a cohesive behaviour, the bed material was not scaled geometrically according to model scale. As a consequence, the relatively large-scaled sediments sizes may result in the overestimation of bed load transport and underestimation of suspended load transport compared with field conditions. What’s more, the disproportional scaled sediment presumably lead to the difference of bed roughness between the model and prototype, and thus large influences for wave boundary layer on the seabed and scour process. Besides, according to Corvaro et al. [21] and Schendel et al. [55], the pile Reynolds numbers and Froude numbers both affect the scour depth for the condition of non fully developed turbulent flow in laboratory experiments.

4.4. Parametric Study

4.4.1. Influence of Froude Number

As described above, the set of foundation leads to the adverse pressure gradient appearing at upstream, leading to the wave boundary layer separating from seabed, then horseshoe vortex formatting and the horseshoe vortex are mainly responsible for scour around foundation (see Figure 22). The Froude number Fr is the key parameter to influence the scale and intensity of horseshoe vortex. The Fr under waves can be calculated by the following formula [42]


where Uw is the mean water particle velocity during 1/4 cycle of wave oscillation, obtained from the following formula. Noteworthy is that the root-mean-square (RMS) value of near-bed velocity amplitude Uwm,rms is used for calculating Uwm.


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Figure 22. Sketch of flow field at upstream USAF edges.

Tavouktsoglou et al. [25] proposed the following formula between Fr and the vertical location of the stagnation y


where e is constant.

The Figure 23 displays the relationship between Seq/D and Fr of the present study. In order to compare with the simulating results, the experimental data of Corvaro et al. [21] was also depicted in Figure 23. As shown in Figure 23, the equilibrium scour depth appears a logarithmic increase as Fr increases and approaches the mathematical asymptotic value, which is also consistent with the experimental results of Corvaro et al. [21]. According to Figure 24, the adverse pressure gradient pressure at upstream USAF edges increases with the increase of Fr, which is benefit for the wave boundary layer separating from seabed, resulting in the high-intensity horseshoe vortex, hence, causing intensive scour around USAF. Based on the previous study of Tavouktsoglou et al. [25] for scour around pile under currents, the high Fr leads to the stagnation point is closer to the mean sea level for shallow water, causing the stronger downflow kinetic energy. As mentioned in previous section, the energy of downflow at upstream makes up the energy of the subsequent horseshoe vortex, so the stronger downflow kinetic energy results in the more intensive horseshoe vortex. Therefore, the higher Fr leads to the more intensive horseshoe vortex by influencing the position of stagnation point y presumably. Qi and Gao [19] carried out a series of flume tests to investigate the scour around pile under regular waves, and proposed the fitting formula between Seq/D and Fr as following


where AB and C are constant.

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Figure 23. The fitting curve between Seq/D and Fr.

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Figure 24. Sketch of adverse pressure gradient at upstream USAF edges.

Took the Equation (37) to fit the simulating results with A = −0.002, B = 0.686 and C = −0.808, and the results are shown in Figure 23. From Figure 23, the simulating results evenly distribute around the Equation (37) and the varying trend of Seq/D and Fr in present study is consistent with Equation (37) basically, meaning the Equation (37) is applicable to express the relationship of Seq/D with Fr around USAF under random waves.

4.4.2. Influence of Euler Number

The Euler number Eu is the influencing factor for the hydrodynamic field around foundation. The Eu under waves can be calculated by the following formula. The Eu can be represented by the Equation (38) for uniform cylinders [25]. The root-mean-square (RMS) value of near-bed velocity amplitude Um,rms is used for calculating Um.


where Um is depth-averaged flow velocity.

The Figure 25 displays the relationship between Seq/D and Eu of the present study. In order to compare with the simulating results, the experimental data of Sumer and Fredsøe [16] and Corvaro et al. [21] were also plotted in Figure 25. As shown in Figure 25, similar with the varying trend of Seq/D and Fr, the equilibrium scour depth appears a logarithmic increase as Eu increases and approaches the mathematical asymptotic value, which is also consistent with the experimental results of Sumer and Fredsøe [16] and Corvaro et al. [21]. According to Figure 24, the adverse pressure gradient pressure at upstream USAF edges increases with the increasing of Eu, which is benefit for the wave boundary layer separating from seabed, inducing the high-intensity horseshoe vortex, hence, causing intensive scour around USAF.

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Figure 25. The fitting curve between Seq/D and Eu.

Therefore, the variation of Fr and Eu reflect the magnitude of adverse pressure gradient pressure at upstream. Given that, the Equation (37) also was used to fit the simulating results with A = 8.875, B = 0.078 and C = −9.601, and the results are shown in Figure 25. From Figure 25, the simulating results evenly distribute around the Equation (37) and the varying trend of Seq/D and Eu in present study is consistent with Equation (37) basically, meaning the Equation (37) is also applicable to express the relationship of Seq/D with Eu around USAF under random waves. Additionally, according to the above description of Fr, it can be inferred that the higher Fr and Eu both lead to the more intensive horseshoe vortex by influencing the position of stagnation point y presumably.

5. Conclusions

A series of numerical models were established to investigate the local scour around umbrella suction anchor foundation (USAF) under random waves. The numerical model was validated for hydrodynamic and morphology parameters by comparing with the experimental data of Khosronejad et al. [52], Petersen et al. [17], Sumer and Fredsøe [16] and Schendel et al. [22]. Based on the simulating results, the scour evolution and scour mechanisms around USAF under random waves were analyzed respectively. Two revised models were proposed according to the model of Raaijmakers and Rudolph [34] and the stochastic model developed by Myrhaug and Rue [37] to predict the equilibrium scour depth around USAF under random waves. Finally, a parametric study was carried out with the present model to study the effects of the Froude number Fr and Euler number Eu to the equilibrium scour depth around USAF under random waves. The main conclusions can be described as follows.(1)

The packed sediment scour model and the RNG k−ε turbulence model were used to simulate the sand particles transport processes and the flow field around UASF respectively. The scour evolution obtained by the present model agrees well with the experimental results of Khosronejad et al. [52], Petersen et al. [17], Sumer and Fredsøe [16] and Schendel et al. [22], which indicates that the present model is accurate and reasonable for depicting the scour morphology around UASF under random waves.(2)

The vortex system at wave crest phase is mainly related to the scour process around USAF under random waves. The maximum scour depth appeared at the lee-side of the USAF at the initial stage (t < 1200 s). Subsequently, when t > 2400 s, the location of the maximum scour depth shifted to the upside of the USAF at an angle of about 45° with respect to the wave propagating direction.(3)

The error is negligible and the Raaijmakers’s model is of relatively high accuracy for predicting scour around USAF under random waves when KC is calculated by KCs,p. Given that, a further revision model (Equation (31)) was proposed according to Raaijmakers’s model to predict the equilibrium scour depth around USAF under random waves and it shows good agreement with the simulating results of the present study when KCs,p < 8.(4)

Another further revision model (Equation (33)) was proposed according to the stochastic model established by Myrhaug and Rue [37] to predict the equilibrium scour depth around USAF under random waves, and the predicting results are the most favorable for n = 10 when KCrms,a < 4. However, contrary to the case of low KCrms,a, the predicting results are the most favorable for n = 2 when KCrms,a > 4 by the comparison with experimental results of Sumer and Fredsøe [16] and Corvaro et al. [21].(5)

The same formula (Equation (37)) is applicable to express the relationship of Seq/D with Eu or Fr, and it can be inferred that the higher Fr and Eu both lead to the more intensive horseshoe vortex and larger Seq.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, H.L. (Hongjun Liu); Data curation, R.H. and P.Y.; Formal analysis, X.W. and H.L. (Hao Leng); Funding acquisition, X.W.; Writing—original draft, R.H. and P.Y.; Writing—review & editing, X.W. and H.L. (Hao Leng); The final manuscript has been approved by all the authors. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant number 202061027) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 41572247).

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Hu, R.; Liu, H.; Leng, H.; Yu, P.; Wang, X. Scour Characteristics and Equilibrium Scour Depth Prediction around Umbrella Suction Anchor Foundation under Random Waves. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 20219, 886.

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Figure 2 Modeling the plant with cylindrical tubes at the bottom of the canal.

Optimized Vegetation Density to Dissipate Energy of Flood Flow in Open Canals

열린 운하에서 홍수 흐름의 에너지를 분산시키기 위해 최적화된 식생 밀도

Mahdi Feizbahr,1Navid Tonekaboni,2Guang-Jun Jiang,3,4and Hong-Xia Chen3,4
Academic Editor: Mohammad Yazdi


강을 따라 식생은 조도를 증가시키고 평균 유속을 감소시키며, 유동 에너지를 감소시키고 강 횡단면의 유속 프로파일을 변경합니다. 자연의 많은 운하와 강은 홍수 동안 초목으로 덮여 있습니다. 운하의 조도는 식물의 영향을 많이 받기 때문에 홍수시 유동저항에 큰 영향을 미친다. 식물로 인한 흐름에 대한 거칠기 저항은 흐름 조건과 식물에 따라 달라지므로 모델은 유속, 유속 깊이 및 수로를 따라 식생 유형의 영향을 고려하여 유속을 시뮬레이션해야 합니다. 총 48개의 모델을 시뮬레이션하여 근관의 거칠기 효과를 조사했습니다. 결과는 속도를 높임으로써 베드 속도를 감소시키는 식생의 영향이 무시할만하다는 것을 나타냅니다.


Vegetation along the river increases the roughness and reduces the average flow velocity, reduces flow energy, and changes the flow velocity profile in the cross section of the river. Many canals and rivers in nature are covered with vegetation during the floods. Canal’s roughness is strongly affected by plants and therefore it has a great effect on flow resistance during flood. Roughness resistance against the flow due to the plants depends on the flow conditions and plant, so the model should simulate the current velocity by considering the effects of velocity, depth of flow, and type of vegetation along the canal. Total of 48 models have been simulated to investigate the effect of roughness in the canal. The results indicated that, by enhancing the velocity, the effect of vegetation in decreasing the bed velocity is negligible, while when the current has lower speed, the effect of vegetation on decreasing the bed velocity is obviously considerable.

1. Introduction

Considering the impact of each variable is a very popular field within the analytical and statistical methods and intelligent systems [114]. This can help research for better modeling considering the relation of variables or interaction of them toward reaching a better condition for the objective function in control and engineering [1527]. Consequently, it is necessary to study the effects of the passive factors on the active domain [2836]. Because of the effect of vegetation on reducing the discharge capacity of rivers [37], pruning plants was necessary to improve the condition of rivers. One of the important effects of vegetation in river protection is the action of roots, which cause soil consolidation and soil structure improvement and, by enhancing the shear strength of soil, increase the resistance of canal walls against the erosive force of water. The outer limbs of the plant increase the roughness of the canal walls and reduce the flow velocity and deplete the flow energy in vicinity of the walls. Vegetation by reducing the shear stress of the canal bed reduces flood discharge and sedimentation in the intervals between vegetation and increases the stability of the walls [3841].

One of the main factors influencing the speed, depth, and extent of flood in this method is Manning’s roughness coefficient. On the other hand, soil cover [42], especially vegetation, is one of the most determining factors in Manning’s roughness coefficient. Therefore, it is expected that those seasonal changes in the vegetation of the region will play an important role in the calculated value of Manning’s roughness coefficient and ultimately in predicting the flood wave behavior [4345]. The roughness caused by plants’ resistance to flood current depends on the flow and plant conditions. Flow conditions include depth and velocity of the plant, and plant conditions include plant type, hardness or flexibility, dimensions, density, and shape of the plant [46]. In general, the issue discussed in this research is the optimization of flood-induced flow in canals by considering the effect of vegetation-induced roughness. Therefore, the effect of plants on the roughness coefficient and canal transmission coefficient and in consequence the flow depth should be evaluated [4748].

Current resistance is generally known by its roughness coefficient. The equation that is mainly used in this field is Manning equation. The ratio of shear velocity to average current velocity  is another form of current resistance. The reason for using the  ratio is that it is dimensionless and has a strong theoretical basis. The reason for using Manning roughness coefficient is its pervasiveness. According to Freeman et al. [49], the Manning roughness coefficient for plants was calculated according to the Kouwen and Unny [50] method for incremental resistance. This method involves increasing the roughness for various surface and plant irregularities. Manning’s roughness coefficient has all the factors affecting the resistance of the canal. Therefore, the appropriate way to more accurately estimate this coefficient is to know the factors affecting this coefficient [51].

To calculate the flow rate, velocity, and depth of flow in canals as well as flood and sediment estimation, it is important to evaluate the flow resistance. To determine the flow resistance in open ducts, Manning, Chézy, and Darcy–Weisbach relations are used [52]. In these relations, there are parameters such as Manning’s roughness coefficient (n), Chézy roughness coefficient (C), and Darcy–Weisbach coefficient (f). All three of these coefficients are a kind of flow resistance coefficient that is widely used in the equations governing flow in rivers [53].

The three relations that express the relationship between the average flow velocity (V) and the resistance and geometric and hydraulic coefficients of the canal are as follows:where nf, and c are Manning, Darcy–Weisbach, and Chézy coefficients, respectively. V = average flow velocity, R = hydraulic radius, Sf = slope of energy line, which in uniform flow is equal to the slope of the canal bed,  = gravitational acceleration, and Kn is a coefficient whose value is equal to 1 in the SI system and 1.486 in the English system. The coefficients of resistance in equations (1) to (3) are related as follows:

Based on the boundary layer theory, the flow resistance for rough substrates is determined from the following general relation:where f = Darcy–Weisbach coefficient of friction, y = flow depth, Ks = bed roughness size, and A = constant coefficient.

On the other hand, the relationship between the Darcy–Weisbach coefficient of friction and the shear velocity of the flow is as follows:

By using equation (6), equation (5) is converted as follows:

Investigation on the effect of vegetation arrangement on shear velocity of flow in laboratory conditions showed that, with increasing the shear Reynolds number (), the numerical value of the  ratio also increases; in other words the amount of roughness coefficient increases with a slight difference in the cases without vegetation, checkered arrangement, and cross arrangement, respectively [54].

Roughness in river vegetation is simulated in mathematical models with a variable floor slope flume by different densities and discharges. The vegetation considered submerged in the bed of the flume. Results showed that, with increasing vegetation density, canal roughness and flow shear speed increase and with increasing flow rate and depth, Manning’s roughness coefficient decreases. Factors affecting the roughness caused by vegetation include the effect of plant density and arrangement on flow resistance, the effect of flow velocity on flow resistance, and the effect of depth [4555].

One of the works that has been done on the effect of vegetation on the roughness coefficient is Darby [56] study, which investigates a flood wave model that considers all the effects of vegetation on the roughness coefficient. There are currently two methods for estimating vegetation roughness. One method is to add the thrust force effect to Manning’s equation [475758] and the other method is to increase the canal bed roughness (Manning-Strickler coefficient) [455961]. These two methods provide acceptable results in models designed to simulate floodplain flow. Wang et al. [62] simulate the floodplain with submerged vegetation using these two methods and to increase the accuracy of the results, they suggested using the effective height of the plant under running water instead of using the actual height of the plant. Freeman et al. [49] provided equations for determining the coefficient of vegetation roughness under different conditions. Lee et al. [63] proposed a method for calculating the Manning coefficient using the flow velocity ratio at different depths. Much research has been done on the Manning roughness coefficient in rivers, and researchers [496366] sought to obtain a specific number for n to use in river engineering. However, since the depth and geometric conditions of rivers are completely variable in different places, the values of Manning roughness coefficient have changed subsequently, and it has not been possible to choose a fixed number. In river engineering software, the Manning roughness coefficient is determined only for specific and constant conditions or normal flow. Lee et al. [63] stated that seasonal conditions, density, and type of vegetation should also be considered. Hydraulic roughness and Manning roughness coefficient n of the plant were obtained by estimating the total Manning roughness coefficient from the matching of the measured water surface curve and water surface height. The following equation is used for the flow surface curve:where  is the depth of water change, S0 is the slope of the canal floor, Sf is the slope of the energy line, and Fr is the Froude number which is obtained from the following equation:where D is the characteristic length of the canal. Flood flow velocity is one of the important parameters of flood waves, which is very important in calculating the water level profile and energy consumption. In the cases where there are many limitations for researchers due to the wide range of experimental dimensions and the variety of design parameters, the use of numerical methods that are able to estimate the rest of the unknown results with acceptable accuracy is economically justified.

FLOW-3D software uses Finite Difference Method (FDM) for numerical solution of two-dimensional and three-dimensional flow. This software is dedicated to computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and is provided by Flow Science [67]. The flow is divided into networks with tubular cells. For each cell there are values of dependent variables and all variables are calculated in the center of the cell, except for the velocity, which is calculated at the center of the cell. In this software, two numerical techniques have been used for geometric simulation, FAVOR™ (Fractional-Area-Volume-Obstacle-Representation) and the VOF (Volume-of-Fluid) method. The equations used at this model for this research include the principle of mass survival and the magnitude of motion as follows. The fluid motion equations in three dimensions, including the Navier–Stokes equations with some additional terms, are as follows:where  are mass accelerations in the directions xyz and  are viscosity accelerations in the directions xyz and are obtained from the following equations:

Shear stresses  in equation (11) are obtained from the following equations:

The standard model is used for high Reynolds currents, but in this model, RNG theory allows the analytical differential formula to be used for the effective viscosity that occurs at low Reynolds numbers. Therefore, the RNG model can be used for low and high Reynolds currents.

Weather changes are high and this affects many factors continuously. The presence of vegetation in any area reduces the velocity of surface flows and prevents soil erosion, so vegetation will have a significant impact on reducing destructive floods. One of the methods of erosion protection in floodplain watersheds is the use of biological methods. The presence of vegetation in watersheds reduces the flow rate during floods and prevents soil erosion. The external organs of plants increase the roughness and decrease the velocity of water flow and thus reduce its shear stress energy. One of the important factors with which the hydraulic resistance of plants is expressed is the roughness coefficient. Measuring the roughness coefficient of plants and investigating their effect on reducing velocity and shear stress of flow is of special importance.

Roughness coefficients in canals are affected by two main factors, namely, flow conditions and vegetation characteristics [68]. So far, much research has been done on the effect of the roughness factor created by vegetation, but the issue of plant density has received less attention. For this purpose, this study was conducted to investigate the effect of vegetation density on flow velocity changes.

In a study conducted using a software model on three density modes in the submerged state effect on flow velocity changes in 48 different modes was investigated (Table 1).

Table 1 

The studied models.

The number of cells used in this simulation is equal to 1955888 cells. The boundary conditions were introduced to the model as a constant speed and depth (Figure 1). At the output boundary, due to the presence of supercritical current, no parameter for the current is considered. Absolute roughness for floors and walls was introduced to the model (Figure 1). In this case, the flow was assumed to be nonviscous and air entry into the flow was not considered. After  seconds, this model reached a convergence accuracy of .

Figure 1 

The simulated model and its boundary conditions.

Due to the fact that it is not possible to model the vegetation in FLOW-3D software, in this research, the vegetation of small soft plants was studied so that Manning’s coefficients can be entered into the canal bed in the form of roughness coefficients obtained from the studies of Chow [69] in similar conditions. In practice, in such modeling, the effect of plant height is eliminated due to the small height of herbaceous plants, and modeling can provide relatively acceptable results in these conditions.

48 models with input velocities proportional to the height of the regular semihexagonal canal were considered to create supercritical conditions. Manning coefficients were applied based on Chow [69] studies in order to control the canal bed. Speed profiles were drawn and discussed.

Any control and simulation system has some inputs that we should determine to test any technology [7077]. Determination and true implementation of such parameters is one of the key steps of any simulation [237881] and computing procedure [8286]. The input current is created by applying the flow rate through the VFR (Volume Flow Rate) option and the output flow is considered Output and for other borders the Symmetry option is considered.

Simulation of the models and checking their action and responses and observing how a process behaves is one of the accepted methods in engineering and science [8788]. For verification of FLOW-3D software, the results of computer simulations are compared with laboratory measurements and according to the values of computational error, convergence error, and the time required for convergence, the most appropriate option for real-time simulation is selected (Figures 2 and 3 ).

Figure 2 

Modeling the plant with cylindrical tubes at the bottom of the canal.

Figure 3 

Velocity profiles in positions 2 and 5.

The canal is 7 meters long, 0.5 meters wide, and 0.8 meters deep. This test was used to validate the application of the software to predict the flow rate parameters. In this experiment, instead of using the plant, cylindrical pipes were used in the bottom of the canal.

The conditions of this modeling are similar to the laboratory conditions and the boundary conditions used in the laboratory were used for numerical modeling. The critical flow enters the simulation model from the upstream boundary, so in the upstream boundary conditions, critical velocity and depth are considered. The flow at the downstream boundary is supercritical, so no parameters are applied to the downstream boundary.

The software well predicts the process of changing the speed profile in the open canal along with the considered obstacles. The error in the calculated speed values can be due to the complexity of the flow and the interaction of the turbulence caused by the roughness of the floor with the turbulence caused by the three-dimensional cycles in the hydraulic jump. As a result, the software is able to predict the speed distribution in open canals.

2. Modeling Results

After analyzing the models, the results were shown in graphs (Figures 414 ). The total number of experiments in this study was 48 due to the limitations of modeling.










  • (a)
  • (b)
  • (c)
  • (d)

Figure 4 

Flow velocity profiles for canals with a depth of 1 m and flow velocities of 3–3.3 m/s. Canal with a depth of 1 meter and a flow velocity of (a) 3 meters per second, (b) 3.1 meters per second, (c) 3.2 meters per second, and (d) 3.3 meters per second.

Figure 5 

Canal diagram with a depth of 1 meter and a flow rate of 3 meters per second.

Figure 6 

Canal diagram with a depth of 1 meter and a flow rate of 3.1 meters per second.

Figure 7 

Canal diagram with a depth of 1 meter and a flow rate of 3.2 meters per second.

Figure 8 

Canal diagram with a depth of 1 meter and a flow rate of 3.3 meters per second.










  • (a)
  • (b)
  • (c)
  • (d)

Figure 9 

Flow velocity profiles for canals with a depth of 2 m and flow velocities of 4–4.3 m/s. Canal with a depth of 2 meters and a flow rate of (a) 4 meters per second, (b) 4.1 meters per second, (c) 4.2 meters per second, and (d) 4.3 meters per second.

Figure 10 

Canal diagram with a depth of 2 meters and a flow rate of 4 meters per second.

Figure 11 

Canal diagram with a depth of 2 meters and a flow rate of 4.1 meters per second.

Figure 12 

Canal diagram with a depth of 2 meters and a flow rate of 4.2 meters per second.

Figure 13 

Canal diagram with a depth of 2 meters and a flow rate of 4.3 meters per second.










  • (a)
  • (b)
  • (c)
  • (d)

Figure 14 

Flow velocity profiles for canals with a depth of 3 m and flow velocities of 5–5.3 m/s. Canal with a depth of 2 meters and a flow rate of (a) 4 meters per second, (b) 4.1 meters per second, (c) 4.2 meters per second, and (d) 4.3 meters per second.

To investigate the effects of roughness with flow velocity, the trend of flow velocity changes at different depths and with supercritical flow to a Froude number proportional to the depth of the section has been obtained.

According to the velocity profiles of Figure 5, it can be seen that, with the increasing of Manning’s coefficient, the canal bed speed decreases.

According to Figures 5 to 8, it can be found that, with increasing the Manning’s coefficient, the canal bed speed decreases. But this deceleration is more noticeable than the deceleration of the models 1 to 12, which can be justified by increasing the speed and of course increasing the Froude number.

According to Figure 10, we see that, with increasing Manning’s coefficient, the canal bed speed decreases.

According to Figure 11, we see that, with increasing Manning’s coefficient, the canal bed speed decreases. But this deceleration is more noticeable than the deceleration of Figures 510, which can be justified by increasing the speed and, of course, increasing the Froude number.

With increasing Manning’s coefficient, the canal bed speed decreases (Figure 12). But this deceleration is more noticeable than the deceleration of the higher models (Figures 58 and 1011), which can be justified by increasing the speed and, of course, increasing the Froude number.

According to Figure 13, with increasing Manning’s coefficient, the canal bed speed decreases. But this deceleration is more noticeable than the deceleration of Figures 5 to 12, which can be justified by increasing the speed and, of course, increasing the Froude number.

According to Figure 15, with increasing Manning’s coefficient, the canal bed speed decreases.

Figure 15 

Canal diagram with a depth of 3 meters and a flow rate of 5 meters per second.

According to Figure 16, with increasing Manning’s coefficient, the canal bed speed decreases. But this deceleration is more noticeable than the deceleration of the higher model, which can be justified by increasing the speed and, of course, increasing the Froude number.

Figure 16 

Canal diagram with a depth of 3 meters and a flow rate of 5.1 meters per second.

According to Figure 17, it is clear that, with increasing Manning’s coefficient, the canal bed speed decreases. But this deceleration is more noticeable than the deceleration of the higher models, which can be justified by increasing the speed and, of course, increasing the Froude number.

Figure 17 

Canal diagram with a depth of 3 meters and a flow rate of 5.2 meters per second.

According to Figure 18, with increasing Manning’s coefficient, the canal bed speed decreases. But this deceleration is more noticeable than the deceleration of the higher models, which can be justified by increasing the speed and, of course, increasing the Froude number.

Figure 18 

Canal diagram with a depth of 3 meters and a flow rate of 5.3 meters per second.

According to Figure 19, it can be seen that the vegetation placed in front of the flow input velocity has negligible effect on the reduction of velocity, which of course can be justified due to the flexibility of the vegetation. The only unusual thing is the unexpected decrease in floor speed of 3 m/s compared to higher speeds.








  • (a)
  • (b)
  • (c)

Figure 19 

Comparison of velocity profiles with the same plant densities (depth 1 m). Comparison of velocity profiles with (a) plant densities of 25%, depth 1 m; (b) plant densities of 50%, depth 1 m; and (c) plant densities of 75%, depth 1 m.

According to Figure 20, by increasing the speed of vegetation, the effect of vegetation on reducing the flow rate becomes more noticeable. And the role of input current does not have much effect in reducing speed.








  • (a)
  • (b)
  • (c)

Figure 20 

Comparison of velocity profiles with the same plant densities (depth 2 m). Comparison of velocity profiles with (a) plant densities of 25%, depth 2 m; (b) plant densities of 50%, depth 2 m; and (c) plant densities of 75%, depth 2 m.

According to Figure 21, it can be seen that, with increasing speed, the effect of vegetation on reducing the bed flow rate becomes more noticeable and the role of the input current does not have much effect. In general, it can be seen that, by increasing the speed of the input current, the slope of the profiles increases from the bed to the water surface and due to the fact that, in software, the roughness coefficient applies to the channel floor only in the boundary conditions, this can be perfectly justified. Of course, it can be noted that, due to the flexible conditions of the vegetation of the bed, this modeling can show acceptable results for such grasses in the canal floor. In the next directions, we may try application of swarm-based optimization methods for modeling and finding the most effective factors in this research [27815188994]. In future, we can also apply the simulation logic and software of this research for other domains such as power engineering [9599].








  • (a)
  • (b)
  • (c)

Figure 21 

Comparison of velocity profiles with the same plant densities (depth 3 m). Comparison of velocity profiles with (a) plant densities of 25%, depth 3 m; (b) plant densities of 50%, depth 3 m; and (c) plant densities of 75%, depth 3 m.

3. Conclusion

The effects of vegetation on the flood canal were investigated by numerical modeling with FLOW-3D software. After analyzing the results, the following conclusions were reached:(i)Increasing the density of vegetation reduces the velocity of the canal floor but has no effect on the velocity of the canal surface.(ii)Increasing the Froude number is directly related to increasing the speed of the canal floor.(iii)In the canal with a depth of one meter, a sudden increase in speed can be observed from the lowest speed and higher speed, which is justified by the sudden increase in Froude number.(iv)As the inlet flow rate increases, the slope of the profiles from the bed to the water surface increases.(v)By reducing the Froude number, the effect of vegetation on reducing the flow bed rate becomes more noticeable. And the input velocity in reducing the velocity of the canal floor does not have much effect.(vi)At a flow rate between 3 and 3.3 meters per second due to the shallow depth of the canal and the higher landing number a more critical area is observed in which the flow bed velocity in this area is between 2.86 and 3.1 m/s.(vii)Due to the critical flow velocity and the slight effect of the roughness of the horseshoe vortex floor, it is not visible and is only partially observed in models 1-2-3 and 21.(viii)As the flow rate increases, the effect of vegetation on the rate of bed reduction decreases.(ix)In conditions where less current intensity is passing, vegetation has a greater effect on reducing current intensity and energy consumption increases.(x)In the case of using the flow rate of 0.8 cubic meters per second, the velocity distribution and flow regime show about 20% more energy consumption than in the case of using the flow rate of 1.3 cubic meters per second.


n:Manning’s roughness coefficient
C:Chézy roughness coefficient
f:Darcy–Weisbach coefficient
V:Flow velocity
R:Hydraulic radius
g:Gravitational acceleration
y:Flow depth
Ks:Bed roughness
A:Constant coefficient
:Reynolds number
y/∂x:Depth of water change
S0:Slope of the canal floor
Sf:Slope of energy line
Fr:Froude number
D:Characteristic length of the canal
G:Mass acceleration
:Shear stresses.

Data Availability

All data are included within the paper.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


This work was partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Contract no. 71761030 and Natural Science Foundation of Inner Mongolia under Contract no. 2019LH07003.


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Figure 5. Schematic view of flap and support structure [32]

Design Optimization of Ocean Renewable Energy Converter Using a Combined Bi-level Metaheuristic Approach

결합된 Bi-level 메타휴리스틱 접근법을 사용한 해양 재생 에너지 변환기의 설계 최적화

Erfan Amini a1, Mahdieh Nasiri b1, Navid Salami Pargoo a, Zahra Mozhgani c, Danial Golbaz d, Mehrdad Baniesmaeil e, Meysam Majidi Nezhad f, Mehdi Neshat gj, Davide Astiaso Garcia h, Georgios Sylaios i


In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in renewable energies in view of the fact that fossil fuels are the leading cause of catastrophic environmental consequences. Ocean wave energy is a renewable energy source that is particularly prevalent in coastal areas. Since many countries have tremendous potential to extract this type of energy, a number of researchers have sought to determine certain effective factors on wave converters’ performance, with a primary emphasis on ambient factors. In this study, we used metaheuristic optimization methods to investigate the effects of geometric factors on the performance of an Oscillating Surge Wave Energy Converter (OSWEC), in addition to the effects of hydrodynamic parameters. To do so, we used CATIA software to model different geometries which were then inserted into a numerical model developed in Flow3D software. A Ribed-surface design of the converter’s flap is also introduced in this study to maximize wave-converter interaction. Besides, a Bi-level Hill Climbing Multi-Verse Optimization (HCMVO) method was also developed for this application. The results showed that the converter performs better with greater wave heights, flap freeboard heights, and shorter wave periods. Additionally, the added ribs led to more wave-converter interaction and better performance, while the distance between the flap and flume bed negatively impacted the performance. Finally, tracking the changes in the five-dimensional objective function revealed the optimum value for each parameter in all scenarios. This is achieved by the newly developed optimization algorithm, which is much faster than other existing cutting-edge metaheuristic approaches.


Wave Energy Converter


Hydrodynamic Effects

Geometric Design

Metaheuristic Optimization

Multi-Verse Optimizer


The increase in energy demand, the limitations of fossil fuels, as well as environmental crises, such as air pollution and global warming, are the leading causes of calling more attention to harvesting renewable energy recently [1][2][3]. While still in its infancy, ocean wave energy has neither reached commercial maturity nor technological convergence. In recent decades, remarkable progress has been made in the marine energy domain, which is still in the early stage of development, to improve the technology performance level (TPL) [4][5]and technology readiness level (TRL) of wave energy converters (WECs). This has been achieved using novel modeling techniques [6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] to gain the following advantages [15]: (i) As a source of sustainable energy, it contributes to the mix of energy resources that leads to greater diversity and attractiveness for coastal cities and suppliers. [16] (ii) Since wave energy can be exploited offshore and does not require any land, in-land site selection would be less expensive and undesirable visual effects would be reduced. [17] (iii) When the best layout and location of offshore site are taken into account, permanent generation of energy will be feasible (as opposed to using solar energy, for example, which is time-dependent) [18].

In general, the energy conversion process can be divided into three stages in a WEC device, including primary, secondary, and tertiary stages [19][20]. In the first stage of energy conversion, which is the subject of this study, the wave power is converted to mechanical power by wave-structure interaction (WSI) between ocean waves and structures. Moreover, the mechanical power is transferred into electricity in the second stage, in which mechanical structures are coupled with power take-off systems (PTO). At this stage, optimal control strategies are useful to tune the system dynamics to maximize power output [10][13][12]. Furthermore, the tertiary energy conversion stage revolves around transferring the non-standard AC power into direct current (DC) power for energy storage or standard AC power for grid integration [21][22]. We discuss only the first stage regardless of the secondary and tertiary stages. While Page 1 of 16 WECs include several categories and technologies such as terminators, point absorbers, and attenuators [15][23], we focus on oscillating surge wave energy converters (OSWECs) in this paper due to its high capacity for industrialization [24].

Over the past two decades, a number of studies have been conducted to understand how OSWECs’ structures and interactions between ocean waves and flaps affect converters performance. Henry et al.’s experiment on oscillating surge wave energy converters is considered as one of the most influential pieces of research [25], which demonstrated how the performance of oscillating surge wave energy converters (OSWECs) is affected by seven different factors, including wave period, wave power, flap’s relative density, water depth, free-board of the flap, the gap between the tubes, gap underneath the flap, and flap width. These parameters were assessed in their two models in order to estimate the absorbed energy from incoming waves [26][27]. In addition, Folly et al. investigated the impact of water depth on the OSWECs performance analytically, numerically, and experimentally. According to this and further similar studies, the average annual incident wave power is significantly reduced by water depth. Based on the experimental results, both the surge wave force and the power capture of OSWECs increase in shallow water [28][29]. Following this, Sarkar et al. found that under such circumstances, the device that is located near the coast performs much better than those in the open ocean [30]. On the other hand, other studies are showing that the size of the converter, including height and width, is relatively independent of the location (within similar depth) [31]. Subsequently, Schmitt et al. studied OSWECs numerically and experimentally. In fact, for the simulation of OSWEC, OpenFOAM was used to test the applicability of Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) solvers. Then, the experimental model reproduced the numerical results with satisfying accuracy [32]. In another influential study, Wang et al. numerically assessed the effect of OSWEC’s width on their performance. According to their findings, as converter width increases, its efficiency decreases in short wave periods while increases in long wave periods [33]. One of the main challenges in the analysis of the OSWEC is the coupled effect of hydrodynamic and geometric variables. As a result, numerous cutting-edge geometry studies have been performed in recent years in order to find the optimal structure that maximizes power output and minimizes costs. Garcia et al. reviewed hull geometry optimization studies in the literature in [19]. In addition, Guo and Ringwood surveyed geometric optimization methods to improve the hydrodynamic performance of OSWECs at the primary stage [14]. Besides, they classified the hull geometry of OSWECs based on Figure 1. Subsequently, Whittaker et al. proposed a different design of OSWEC called Oyster2. There have been three examples of different geometries of oysters with different water depths. Based on its water depth, they determined the width and height of the converter. They also found that in the constant wave period the less the converter’s width, the less power captures the converter has [34]. Afterward, O’Boyle et al. investigated a type of OSWEC called Oyster 800. They compared the experimental and numerical models with the prototype model. In order to precisely reproduce the shape, mass distribution, and buoyancy properties of the prototype, a 40th-scale experimental model has been designed. Overall, all the models were fairly accurate according to the results [35].

Inclusive analysis of recent research avenues in the area of flap geometry has revealed that the interaction-based designs of such converters are emerging as a novel approach. An initiative workflow is designed in the current study to maximizing the wave energy extrication by such systems. To begin with, a sensitivity analysis plays its role of determining the best hydrodynamic values for installing the converter’s flap. Then, all flap dimensions and characteristics come into play to finalize the primary model. Following, interactive designs is proposed to increase the influence of incident waves on the body by adding ribs on both sides of the flap as a novel design. Finally, a new bi-level metaheuristic method is proposed to consider the effects of simultaneous changes in ribs properties and other design parameters. We hope this novel approach will be utilized to make big-scale projects less costly and justifiable. The efficiency of the method is also compared with four well known metaheuristic algorithms and out weight them for this application.

This paper is organized as follows. First, the research methodology is introduced by providing details about the numerical model implementation. To that end, we first introduced the primary model’s geometry and software details. That primary model is later verified with a benchmark study with regard to the flap angle of rotation and water surface elevation. Then, governing equations and performance criteria are presented. In the third part of the paper, we discuss the model’s sensitivity to lower and upper parts width (we proposed a two cross-sectional design for the flap), bottom elevation, and freeboard. Finally, the novel optimization approach is introduced in the final part and compared with four recent metaheuristic algorithms.

2. Numerical Methods

In this section, after a brief introduction of the numerical software, Flow3D, boundary conditions are defined. Afterwards, the numerical model implementation, along with primary model properties are described. Finally, governing equations, as part of numerical process, are discussed.

2.1Model Setup

FLOW-3D is a powerful and comprehensive CFD simulation platform for studying fluid dynamics. This software has several modules to solve many complex engineering problems. In addition, modeling complex flows is simple and effective using FLOW-3D’s robust meshing capabilities [36]. Interaction between fluid and moving objects might alter the computational range. Dynamic meshes are used in our modeling to take these changes into account. At each time step, the computational node positions change in order to adapt the meshing area to the moving object. In addition, to choose mesh dimensions, some factors are taken into account such as computational accuracy, computational time, and stability. The final grid size is selected based on the detailed procedure provided in [37]. To that end, we performed grid-independence testing on a CFD model using three different mesh grid sizes of 0.01, 0.015, and 0.02 meters. The problem geometry and boundary conditions were defined the same, and simulations were run on all three grids under the same conditions. The predicted values of the relevant variable, such as velocity, was compared between the grids. The convergence behavior of the numerical solution was analyzed by calculating the relative L2 norm error between two consecutive grids. Based on the results obtained, it was found that the grid size of 0.02 meters showed the least error, indicating that it provided the most accurate and reliable solution among the three grids. Therefore, the grid size of 0.02 meters was selected as the optimal spatial resolution for the mesh grid.

In this work, the flume dimensions are 10 meters long, 0.1 meters wide, and 2.2 meters high, which are shown in figure2. In addition, input waves with linear characteristics have a height of 0.1 meters and a period of 1.4 seconds. Among the linear wave methods included in this software, RNGk-ε and k- ε are appropriate for turbulence model. The research of Lopez et al. shows that RNGk- ε provides the most accurate simulation of turbulence in OSWECs [21]. We use CATIA software to create the flap primary model and other innovative designs for this project. The flap measures 0.1 m x 0.65 m x 0.360 m in x, y and z directions, respectively. In Figure 3, the primary model of flap and its dimensions are shown. In this simulation, five boundaries have been defined, including 1. Inlet, 2. Outlet, 3. Converter flap, 4. Bed flume, and 5. Water surface, which are shown in figure 2. Besides, to avoid wave reflection in inlet and outlet zones, Flow3D is capable of defining some areas as damping zones, the length of which has to be one to one and a half times the wavelength. Therefore, in the model, this length is considered equal to 2 meters. Furthermore, there is no slip in all the boundaries. In other words, at every single time step, the fluid velocity is zero on the bed flume, while it is equal to the flap velocity on the converter flap. According to the wave theory defined in the software, at the inlet boundary, the water velocity is called from the wave speed to be fed into the model.


In the current study, we utilize the Schmitt experimental model as a benchmark for verification, which was developed at the Queen’s University of Belfast. The experiments were conducted on the flap of the converter, its rotation, and its interaction with the water surface. Thus, the details of the experiments are presented below based up on the experimental setup’s description [38]. In the experiment, the laboratory flume has a length of 20m and a width of 4.58m. Besides, in order to avoid incident wave reflection, a wave absorption source is devised at the end of the left flume. The flume bed, also, includes two parts with different slops. The flap position and dimensions of the flume can be seen in Figure4. In addition, a wave-maker with 6 paddles is installed at one end. At the opposite end, there is a beach with wire meshes. Additionally, there are 6 indicators to extract the water level elevation. In the flap model, there are three components: the fixed support structure, the hinge, and the flap. The flap measures 0.1m x 0.65m x 0.341m in x, y and z directions, respectively. In Figure5, the details are given [32]. The support structure consists of a 15 mm thick stainless steel base plate measuring 1m by 1.4m, which is screwed onto the bottom of the tank. The hinge is supported by three bearing blocks. There is a foam centerpiece on the front and back of the flap which is sandwiched between two PVC plates. Enabling changes of the flap, three metal fittings link the flap to the hinge. Moreover, in this experiment, the selected wave is generated based on sea wave data at scale 1:40. The wave height and the wave period are equal to 0.038 (m) and 2.0625 (s), respectively, which are tantamount to a wave with a period of 13 (s) and a height of 1.5 (m).

Two distinct graphs illustrate the numerical and experi-mental study results. Figure6 and Figure7 are denoting the angle of rotation of flap and surface elevation in computational and experimental models, respectively. The two figures roughly represent that the numerical and experimental models are a good match. However, for the purpose of verifying the match, we calculated the correlation coefficient (C) and root mean square error (RMSE). According to Figure6, correlation coefficient and RMSE are 0.998 and 0.003, respectively, and in Figure7 correlation coefficient and RMSE are respectively 0.999 and 0.001. Accordingly, there is a good match between the numerical and empirical models. It is worth mentioning that the small differences between the numerical and experimental outputs may be due to the error of the measuring devices and the calibration of the data collection devices.

Including continuity equation and momentum conserva- tion for incompressible fluid are given as [32][39]:(1)

where P represents the pressure, g denotes gravitational acceleration, u represents fluid velocity, and Di is damping coefficient. Likewise, the model uses the same equation. to calculate the fluid velocity in other directions as well. Considering the turbulence, we use the two-equation model of RNGK- ε. These equations are:

(3)��t(��)+����(����)=����[�eff�������]+��-��and(4)���(��)+����(����)=����[�eff�������]+�1�∗����-��2��2�Where �2� and �1� are constants. In addition, �� and �� represent the turbulent Prandtl number of � and k, respectively.

�� also denote the production of turbulent kinetic energy of k under the effect of velocity gradient, which is calculated as follows:(5)��=�eff[�����+�����]�����(6)�eff=�+��(7)�eff=�+��where � is molecular viscosity,�� represents turbulence viscosity, k denotes kinetic energy, and ∊∊ is energy dissipation rate. The values of constant coefficients in the two-equation RNGK ∊-∊ model is as shown in the Table 1 [40].Table 2.

Table 1. Constant coefficients in RNGK- model


Table 2. Flap properties

Joint height (m)0.476
Height of the center of mass (m)0.53
Weight (Kg)10.77

It is worth mentioning that the volume of fluid method is used to separate water and air phases in this software [41]. Below is the equation of this method [40].(8)����+����(���)=0where α and 1 − α are portion of water phase and air phase, respectively. As a weighting factor, each fluid phase portion is used to determine the mixture properties. Finally, using the following equations, we calculate the efficiency of converters [42][34][43]:(9)�=14|�|2�+�2+(�+�a)2(�n2-�2)2where �� represents natural frequency, I denotes the inertia of OSWEC, Ia is the added inertia, F is the complex wave force, and B denotes the hydrodynamic damping coefficient. Afterward, the capture factor of the converter is calculated by [44]:(10)��=�1/2��2����gw where �� represents the capture factor, which is the total efficiency of device per unit length of the wave crest at each time step [15], �� represent the dimensional amplitude of the incident wave, w is the flap’s width, and Cg is the group velocity of the incident wave, as below:(11)��=��0·121+2�0ℎsinh2�0ℎwhere �0 denotes the wave number, h is water depth, and H is the height of incident waves.

According to previous sections ∊,����-∊ modeling is used for all models simulated in this section. For this purpose, the empty boundary condition is used for flume walls. In order to preventing wave reflection at the inlet and outlet of the flume, the length of wave absorption is set to be at least one incident wavelength. In addition, the structured mesh is chosen, and the mesh dimensions are selected in two distinct directions. In each model, all grids have a length of 2 (cm) and a height of 1 (cm). Afterwards, as an input of the software for all of the models, we define the time step as 0.001 (s). Moreover, the run time of every simulation is 30 (s). As mentioned before, our primary model is Schmitt model, and the flap properties is given in table2. For all simulations, the flume measures 15 meters in length and 0.65 meters in width, and water depth is equal to 0.335 (m). The flap is also located 7 meters from the flume’s inlet.

Finally, in order to compare the results, the capture factor is calculated for each simulation and compared to the primary model. It is worth mentioning that capture factor refers to the ratio of absorbed wave energy to the input wave energy.

According to primary model simulation and due to the decreasing horizontal velocity with depth, the wave crest has the highest velocity. Considering the fact that the wave’s orbital velocity causes the flap to move, the contact between the upper edge of the flap and the incident wave can enhance its performance. Additionally, the numerical model shows that the dynamic pressure decreases as depth increases, and the hydrostatic pressure increases as depth increases.

To determine the OSWEC design, it is imperative to understand the correlation between the capture factor, wave period, and wave height. Therefore, as it is shown in Figure8, we plot the change in capture factor over the variations in wave period and wave height in 3D and 2D. In this diagram, the first axis features changes in wave period, the second axis displays changes in wave height, and the third axis depicts changes in capture factor. According to our wave properties in the numerical model, the wave period and wave height range from 2 to 14 seconds and 2 to 8 meters, respectively. This is due to the fact that the flap does not oscillate if the wave height is less than 2 (m), and it does not reverse if the wave height is more than 8 (m). In addition, with wave periods more than 14 (s), the wavelength would be so long that it would violate the deep-water conditions, and with wave periods less than 2 (s), the flap would not oscillate properly due to the shortness of wavelength. The results of simulation are shown in Figure 8. As it can be perceived from Figure 8, in a constant wave period, the capture factor is in direct proportion to the wave height. It is because of the fact that waves with more height have more energy to rotate the flap. Besides, in a constant wave height, the capture factor increases when the wave period increases, until a given wave period value. However, the capture factor falls after this point. These results are expected since the flap’s angular displacement is not high in lower wave periods, while the oscillating motion of that is not fast enough to activate the power take-off system in very high wave periods.

As is shown in Figure 9, we plot the change in capture factor over the variations in wave period (s) and water depth (m) in 3D. As it can be seen in this diagram, the first axis features changes in water depth (m), the second axis depicts the wave period (s), and the third axis displays OSWEC’s capture factor. The wave period ranges from 0 to 10 seconds based on our wave properties, which have been adopted from Schmitt’s model, while water depth ranges from 0 to 0.5 meters according to the flume and flap dimensions and laboratory limitations. According to Figure9, for any specific water depth, the capture factor increases in a varying rate when the wave period increases, until a given wave period value. However, the capture factor falls steadily after this point. In fact, the maximum capture factor occurs when the wave period is around 6 seconds. This trend is expected since, in a specific water depth, the flap cannot oscillate properly when the wavelength is too short. As the wave period increases, the flap can oscillate more easily, and consequently its capture factor increases. However, the capture factor drops in higher wave periods because the wavelength is too large to move the flap. Furthermore, in a constant wave period, by changing the water depth, the capture factor does not alter. In other words, the capture factor does not depend on the water depth when it is around its maximum value.

3Sensitivity Analysis

Based on previous studies, in addition to the flap design, the location of the flap relative to the water surface (freeboard) and its elevation relative to the flume bed (flap bottom elevation) play a significant role in extracting energy from the wave energy converter. This study measures the sensitivity of the model to various parameters related to the flap design including upper part width of the flap, lower part width of the flap, the freeboard, and the flap bottom elevation. Moreover, as a novel idea, we propose that the flap widths differ in the lower and upper parts. In Figure10, as an example, a flap with an upper thickness of 100 (mm) and a lower thickness of 50 (mm) and a flap with an upper thickness of 50 (mm) and a lower thickness of 100 (mm) are shown. The influence of such discrepancy between the widths of the upper and lower parts on the interaction between the wave and the flap, or in other words on the capture factor, is evaluated. To do so, other parameters are remained constant, such as the freeboard, the distance between the flap and the flume bed, and the wave properties.

In Figure11, models are simulated with distinct upper and lower widths. As it is clear in this figure, the first axis depicts the lower part width of the flap, the second axis indicates the upper part width of the flap, and the colors represent the capture factor values. Additionally, in order to consider a sufficient range of change, the flap thickness varies from half to double the value of the primary model for each part.

According to this study, the greater the discrepancy in these two parts, the lower the capture factor. It is on account of the fact that when the lower part of the flap is thicker than the upper part, and this thickness difference in these two parts is extremely conspicuous, the inertia against the motion is significant at zero degrees of rotation. Consequently, it is difficult to move the flap, which results in a low capture factor. Similarly, when the upper part of the flap is thicker than the lower part, and this thickness difference in these two parts is exceedingly noticeable, the inertia is so great that the flap can not reverse at the maximum degree of rotation. As the results indicate, the discrepancy can enhance the performance of the converter if the difference between these two parts is around 20%. As it is depicted in the Figure11, the capture factor reaches its own maximum amount, when the lower part thickness is from 5 to 6 (cm), and the upper part thickness is between 6 and 7 (cm). Consequently, as a result of this discrepancy, less material will be used, and therefore there will be less cost.

As illustrated in Figure12, this study examines the effects of freeboard (level difference between the flap top and water surface) and the flap bottom elevation (the distance between the flume bed and flap bottom) on the converter performance. In this diagram, the first axis demonstrates the freeboard and the second axis on the left side displays the flap bottom elevation, while the colors indicate the capture factor. In addition, the feasible range of freeboard is between -15 to 15 (cm) due to the limitation of the numerical model, so that we can take the wave slamming and the overtopping into consideration. Additionally, based on the Schmitt model and its scaled model of 1:40 of the base height, the flap bottom should be at least 9 (cm) high. Since the effect of surface waves is distributed over the depth of the flume, it is imperative to maintain a reasonable flap height exposed to incoming waves. Thus, the maximum flap bottom elevation is limited to 19 (cm). As the Figure12 pictures, at constant negative values of the freeboard, the capture factor is in inverse proportion with the flap bottom elevation, although slightly.

Furthermore, at constant positive values of the freeboard, the capture factor fluctuates as the flap bottom elevation decreases while it maintains an overall increasing trend. This is on account of the fact that increasing the flap bottom elevation creates turbulence flow behind the flap, which encumbers its rotation, as well as the fact that the flap surface has less interaction with the incoming waves. Furthermore, while keeping the flap bottom elevation constant, the capture factor increases by raising the freeboard. This is due to the fact that there is overtopping with adverse impacts on the converter performance when the freeboard is negative and the flap is under the water surface. Besides, increasing the freeboard makes the wave slam more vigorously, which improves the converter performance.

Adding ribs to the flap surface, as shown in Figure13, is a novel idea that is investigated in the next section. To achieve an optimized design for the proposed geometry of the flap, we determine the optimal number and dimensions of ribs based on the flap properties as our decision variables in the optimization process. As an example, Figure13 illustrates a flap with 3 ribs on each side with specific dimensions.

Figure14 shows the flow velocity field around the flap jointed to the flume bed. During the oscillation of the flap, the pressure on the upper and lower surfaces of the flap changes dynamically due to the changing angle of attack and the resulting change in the direction of fluid flow. As the flap moves upwards, the pressure on the upper surface decreases, and the pressure on the lower surface increases. Conversely, as the flap moves downwards, the pressure on the upper surface increases, and the pressure on the lower surface decreases. This results in a cyclic pressure variation around the flap. Under certain conditions, the pressure field around the flap can exhibit significant variations in magnitude and direction, forming vortices and other flow structures. These flow structures can affect the performance of the OSWEC by altering the lift and drag forces acting on the flap.

4Design Optimization

We consider optimizing the design parameters of the flap of converter using a nature-based swarm optimization method, that fall in the category of metaheuristic algorithms [45]. Accordingly, we choose four state-of-the-art algorithms to perform an optimization study. Then, based on their performances to achieve the highest capture factor, one of them will be chosen to be combined with the Hill Climb algorithm to carry out a local search. Therefore, in the remainder of this section, we discuss the search process of each algorithm and visualize their performance and convergence curve as they try to find the best values for decision variables.

4.1. Metaheuristic Approaches

As the first considered algorithm, the Gray Wolf Optimizer (GWO) algorithm simulates the natural leadership and hunting performance of gray wolves which tend to live in colonies. Hunters must obey the alpha wolf, the leader, who is responsible for hunting. Then, the beta wolf is at the second level of the gray wolf hierarchy. A subordinate of alpha wolf, beta stands under the command of the alpha. At the next level in this hierarchy, there are the delta wolves. They are subordinate to the alpha and beta wolves. This category of wolves includes scouts, sentinels, elders, hunters, and caretakers. In this ranking, omega wolves are at the bottom, having the lowest level and obeying all other wolves. They are also allowed to eat the prey just after others have eaten. Despite the fact that they seem less important than others, they are really central to the pack survival. Since, it has been shown that without omega wolves, the entire pack would experience some problems like fighting, violence, and frustration. In this simulation, there are three primary steps of hunting including searching, surrounding, and finally attacking the prey. Mathematically model of gray wolves’ hunting technique and their social hierarchy are applied in determined by optimization. this study. As mentioned before, gray wolves can locate their prey and surround them. The alpha wolf also leads the hunt. Assuming that the alpha, beta, and delta have more knowledge about prey locations, we can mathematically simulate gray wolf hunting behavior. Hence, in addition to saving the top three best solutions obtained so far, we compel the rest of the search agents (also the omegas) to adjust their positions based on the best search agent. Encircling behavior can be mathematically modeled by the following equations: [46].(12)�→=|�→·��→(�)-�→(�)|(13)�→(�+1)=��→(�)-�→·�→(14)�→=2.�2→(15)�→=2�→·�1→-�→Where �→indicates the position vector of gray wolf, ��→ defines the vector of prey, t indicates the current iteration, and �→and �→are coefficient vectors. To force the search agent to diverge from the prey, we use �→ with random values greater than 1 or less than -1. In addition, C→ contains random values in the range [0,2], and �→ 1 and �2→ are random vectors in [0,1]. The second considered technique is the Moth Flame Optimizer (MFO) algorithm. This method revolves around the moths’ navigation mechanism, which is realized by positioning themselves and maintaining a fixed angle relative to the moon while flying. This effective mechanism helps moths to fly in a straight path. However, when the source of light is artificial, maintaining an angle with the light leads to a spiral flying path towards the source that causes the moth’s death [47]. In MFO algorithm, moths and flames are both solutions. The moths are actual search agents that fly in hyper-dimensional space by changing their position vectors, and the flames are considered pins that moths drop when searching the search space [48]. The problem’s variables are the position of moths in the space. Each moth searches around a flame and updates it in case of finding a better solution. The fitness value is the return value of each moth’s fitness (objective) function. The position vector of each moth is passed to the fitness function, and the output of the fitness function is assigned to the corresponding moth. With this mechanism, a moth never loses its best solution [49]. Some attributes of this algorithm are as follows:

  • •It takes different values to converge moth in any point around the flame.
  • •Distance to the flame is lowered to be eventually minimized.
  • •When the position gets closer to the flame, the updated positions around the flame become more frequent.

As another method, the Multi-Verse Optimizer is based on a multiverse theory which proposes there are other universes besides the one in which we all live. According to this theory, there are more than one big bang in the universe, and each big bang leads to the birth of a new universe [50]. Multi-Verse Optimizer (MVO) is mainly inspired by three phenomena in cosmology: white holes, black holes, and wormholes. A white hole has never been observed in our universe, but physicists believe the big bang could be considered a white hole [51]. Black holes, which behave completely in contrast to white holes, attract everything including light beams with their extremely high gravitational force [52]. In the multiverse theory, wormholes are time and space tunnels that allow objects to move instantly between any two corners of a universe (or even simultaneously from one universe to another) [53]. Based on these three concepts, mathematical models are designed to perform exploration, exploitation, and local search, respectively. The concept of white and black holes is implied as an exploration phase, while the concept of wormholes is considered as an exploitation phase by MVO. Additionally, each solution is analogous to a universe, and each variable in the solution represents an object in that universe. Furthermore, each solution is assigned an inflation rate, and the time is used instead of iterations. Following are the universe rules in MVO:

  • •The possibility of having white hole increases with the inflation rate.
  • •The possibility of having black hole decreases with the inflation rate.
  • •Objects tend to pass through black holes more frequently in universes with lower inflation rates.
  • •Regardless of inflation rate, wormholes may cause objects in universes to move randomly towards the best universe. [54]

Modeling the white/black hole tunnels and exchanging objects of universes mathematically was accomplished by using the roulette wheel mechanism. With every iteration, the universes are sorted according to their inflation rates, then, based on the roulette wheel, the one with the white hole is selected as the local extremum solution. This is accomplished through the following steps:

Assume that


Where ��� represents the jth parameter of the ith universe, Ui indicates the ith universe, NI(Ui) is normalized inflation rate of the ith universe, r1 is a random number in [0,1], and j xk shows the jth parameter of the kth universe selected by a roulette wheel selection mechanism [54]. It is assumed that wormhole tunnels always exist between a universe and the best universe formed so far. This mechanism is as follows:(17)���=if�2<���:��+���×((���-���)×�4+���)�3<0.5��-���×((���-���)×�4+���)�3≥0.5����:���where Xj indicates the jth parameter of the best universe formed so far, TDR and WEP are coefficients, where Xj indicates the jth parameter of the best universelbjshows the lower bound of the jth variable, ubj is the upper bound of the jth variable, and r2, r3, and r4 are random numbers in [1][54].

Finally, one of the newest optimization algorithms is WOA. The WOA algorithm simulates the movement of prey and the whale’s discipline when looking for their prey. Among several species, Humpback whales have a specific method of hunting [55]. Humpback whales can recognize the location of prey and encircle it before hunting. The optimal design position in the search space is not known a priori, and the WOA algorithm assumes that the best candidate solution is either the target prey or close to the optimum. This foraging behavior is called the bubble-net feeding method. Two maneuvers are associated with bubbles: upward spirals and double loops. A unique behavior exhibited only by humpback whales is bubble-net feeding. In fact, The WOA algorithm starts with a set of random solutions. At each iteration, search agents update their positions for either a randomly chosen search agent or the best solution obtained so far [56][55]. When the best search agent is determined, the other search agents will attempt to update their positions toward that agent. It is important to note that humpback whales swim around their prey simultaneously in a circular, shrinking circle and along a spiral-shaped path. By using a mathematical model, the spiral bubble-net feeding maneuver is optimized. The following equation represents this behavior:(18)�→(�+1)=�′→·�bl·cos(2��)+�∗→(�)


X→(t+ 1) indicates the distance of the it h whale to the prey (best solution obtained so far),� is a constant for defining the shape of the logarithmic spiral, l is a random number in [−1, 1], and dot (.) is an element-by-element multiplication [55].

Comparing the four above-mentioned methods, simulations are run with 10 search agents for 400 iterations. In Figure 15, there are 20 plots the optimal values of different parameters in optimization algorithms. The five parameters of this study are freeboard, bottom elevations, number of ribs on the converter, rib thickness, and rib Height. The optimal value for each was found by optimization algorithms, naming WOA, MVO, MFO, and GWO. By looking through the first row, the freeboard parameter converges to its maximum possible value in the optimization process of GWO after 300 iterations. Similarly, MFO finds the same result as GWO. In contrast, the freeboard converges to its minimum possible value in MVO optimizing process, which indicates positioning the converter under the water. Furthermore, WOA found the optimal value of freeboard as around 0.02 after almost 200 iterations. In the second row, the bottom elevation is found at almost 0.11 (m) in all algorithms; however, the curves follow different trends in each algorithm. The third row shows the number of ribs, where results immediately reveal that it should be over 4. All algorithms coincide at 5 ribs as the optimal number in this process. The fourth row displays the trends of algorithms to find optimal rib thickness. MFO finds the optimal value early and sets it to around 0.022, while others find the same value in higher iterations. Finally, regarding the rib height, MVO, MFO, and GWO state that the optimal value is 0.06 meters, but WOA did not find a higher value than 0.039.

4.2. HCMVO Bi-level Approach

Despite several strong search characteristics of MVO and its high performance in various optimization problems, it suffers from a few deficiencies in local and global search mechanisms. For instance, it is trapped in the local optimum when wormholes stochastically generate many solutions near the best universe achieved throughout iterations, especially in solving complex multimodal problems with high dimensions [57]. Furthermore, MVO needs to be modified by an escaping strategy from the local optima to enhance the global search abilities. To address these shortages, we propose a fast and effective meta-algorithm (HCMVO) to combine MVO with a Random-restart hill-climbing local search. This meta-algorithm uses MVO on the upper level to develop global tracking and provide a range of feasible and proper solutions. The hill-climbing algorithm is designed to develop a comprehensive neighborhood search around the best-found solution proposed by the upper-level (MVO) when MVO is faced with a stagnation issue or falling into a local optimum. The performance threshold is formulated as follows.(20)Δ����THD=∑�=1�����TH��-����TH��-1�where BestTHDis the best-found solution per generation, andM is related to the domain of iterations to compute the average performance of MVO. If the proposed best solution by the local search is better than the initial one, the global best of MVO will be updated. HCMVO iteratively runs hill climbing when the performance of MVO goes down, each time with an initial condition to prepare for escaping such undesirable situations. In order to get a better balance between exploration and exploitation, the search step size linearly decreases as follows:(21)��=��-����Ma�iter��+1where iter and Maxiter are the current iteration and maximum number of evaluation, respectively. �� stands for the step size of the neighborhood search. Meanwhile, this strategy can improve the convergence rate of MVO compared with other algorithms.

Algorithm 1 shows the technical details of the proposed optimization method (HCMVO). The initial solution includes freeboard (�), bottom elevation (�), number of ribs (Nr), rib thickness (�), and rib height(�).

5. Conclusion

The high trend of diminishing worldwide energy resources has entailed a great crisis upon vulnerable societies. To withstand this effect, developing renewable energy technologies can open doors to a more reliable means, among which the wave energy converters will help the coastal residents and infrastructure. This paper set out to determine the optimized design for such devices that leads to the highest possible power output. The main goal of this research was to demonstrate the best design for an oscillating surge wave energy converter using a novel metaheuristic optimization algorithm. In this regard, the methodology was devised such that it argued the effects of influential parameters, including wave characteristics, WEC design, and interaction criteria.

To begin with, a numerical model was developed in Flow 3D software to simulate the response of the flap of a wave energy converter to incoming waves, followed by a validation study based upon a well-reputed experimental study to verify the accuracy of the model. Secondly, the hydrodynamics of the flap was investigated by incorporating the turbulence. The effect of depth, wave height, and wave period are also investigated in this part. The influence of two novel ideas on increasing the wave-converter interaction was then assessed: i) designing a flap with different widths in the upper and lower part, and ii) adding ribs on the surface of the flap. Finally, four trending single-objective metaheuristic optimization methods

Empty CellAlgorithm 1: Hill Climb Multiverse Optimization
01:procedure HCMVO
04:Initialize parameters�ER,�DR,�EP,Best�,���ite��▹Wormhole existence probability (WEP)
06:��=Normalize the inflation rate��
07:for iter in[1,⋯,���iter]do
13:White HoleIndex=Roulette�heelSelection(-��)
14:�(Black HoleIndex,�)=��(White HoleIndex,�)
15:end if
24:end if
25:end if
26:end for
27:end for
31:ifΔBestTHD<��then▹Perform hill climbing local search
33:end if
34:end for
35:return�,BestTHD▹Final configuration
36:end procedure

The implementation details of the hill-climbing algorithm applied in HCMPA can be seen in Algorithm 2. One of the critical parameters isg, which denotes the resolution of the neighborhood search around the proposed global best by MVO. If we set a small step size for hill-climbing, the convergence speed will be decreased. On the other hand, a large step size reinforces the exploration ability. Still, it may reduce the exploitation ability and in return increase the act of jumping from a global optimum or surfaces with high-potential solutions. Per each decision variable, the neighborhood search evaluates two different direct searches, incremental or decremental. After assessing the generated solutions, the best candidate will be selected to iterate the search algorithm. It is noted that the hill-climbing algorithm should not be applied in the initial iteration of the optimization process due to the immense tendency for converging to local optima. Meanwhile, for optimizing largescale problems, hill-climbing is not an appropriate selection. In order to improve understanding of the proposed hybrid optimization algorithm’s steps, the flowchart of HCMVO is designed and can be seen in Figure 16.

Figure 17 shows the observed capture factor (which is the absorbed energy with respect to the available energy) by each optimization algorithm from iterations 1 to 400. The algorithms use ten search agents in their modified codes to find the optimal solutions. While GWO and MFO remain roughly constant after iterations 54 and 40, the other three algorithms keep improving the capture factor. In this case, HCMVO and MVO worked very well in the optimizing process with a capture factor obtained by the former as 0.594 and by the latter as 0.593. MFO almost found its highest value before the iteration 50, which means the exploration part of the algorithm works out well. Similarly, HCMVO does the same. However, it keeps finding the better solution during the optimization process until the last iteration, indicating the strong exploitation part of the algorithm. GWO reveals a weakness in exploration and exploitation because not only does it evoke the least capture factor value, but also the curve remains almost unchanged throughout 350 iterations.

Figure 18 illustrates complex interactions between the five optimization parameters and the capture factor for HCMVO (a), MPA (b), and MFO (c) algorithms. The first interesting observation is that there is a high level of nonlinear relationships among the setting parameters that can make a multi-modal search space. The dark blue lines represent the best-found configuration throughout the optimisation process. Based on both HCMVO (a) and MVO (b), we can infer that the dark blue lines concentrate in a specific range, showing the high convergence ability of both HCMVO and MVO. However, MFO (c) could not find the exact optimal range of the decision variables, and the best-found solutions per generation distribute mostly all around the search space.

Empty CellAlgorithm 1: Hill Climb Multiverse Optimization
01:procedure HCMVO
03:Initialize the constraints��1�,��1�
04:�1�=Mi�1�+���1�/�▹Compute the step size,�is search resolution
07:Main loop
08:for iter≤���ita=do
13:t = t+1
14:end while
18:end for
20:end procedure

were utilized to illuminate the optimum values of the design parameters, and the best method was chosen to develop a new algorithm that performs both local and global search methods.

The correlation between hydrodynamic parameters and the capture factor of the converter was supported by the results. For any given water depth, the capture factor increases as the wave period increases, until a certain wave period value (6 seconds) is reached, after which the capture factor gradually decreases. It is expected since the flap cannot oscillate effectively when the wavelength is too short for a certain water depth. Conversely, when the wavelength is too long, the capture factor decreases. Furthermore, under a constant wave period, increasing the water depth does not affect the capture factor. Regarding the sensitivity analysis, the study found that increasing the flap bottom elevation causes turbulence flow behind the flap and limitation of rotation, which leads to less interaction with the incoming waves. Furthermore, while keeping the flap bottom elevation constant, increasing the freeboard improves the capture factor. Overtopping happens when the freeboard is negative and the flap is below the water surface, which has a detrimental influence on converter performance. Furthermore, raising the freeboard causes the wave impact to become more violent, which increases converter performance.

In the last part, we discussed the search process of each algorithm and visualized their performance and convergence curves as they try to find the best values for decision variables. Among the four selected metaheuristic algorithms, the Multi-verse Optimizer proved to be the most effective in achieving the best answer in terms of the WEC capture factor. However, the MVO needed modifications regarding its escape approach from the local optima in order to improve its global search capabilities. To overcome these constraints, we presented a fast and efficient meta-algorithm (HCMVO) that combines MVO with a Random-restart hill-climbing local search. On a higher level, this meta-algorithm employed MVO to generate global tracking and present a range of possible and appropriate solutions. Taken together, the results demonstrated that there is a significant degree of nonlinearity among the setup parameters that might result in a multimodal search space. Since MVO was faced with a stagnation issue or fell into a local optimum, we constructed a complete neighborhood search around the best-found solution offered by the upper level. In sum, the newly-developed algorithm proved to be highly effective for the problem compared to other similar optimization methods. The strength of the current findings may encourage future investigation on design optimization of wave energy converters using developed geometry as well as the novel approach.

CRediT authorship contribution statement

Erfan Amini: Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Data curation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing, Visualization. Mahdieh Nasiri: Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Data curation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing, Visualization. Navid Salami Pargoo: Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing. Zahra Mozhgani: Conceptualization, Methodology. Danial Golbaz: Writing – original draft. Mehrdad Baniesmaeil: Writing – original draft. Meysam Majidi Nezhad: . Mehdi Neshat: Supervision, Conceptualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing, Visualization. Davide Astiaso Garcia: Supervision. Georgios Sylaios: Supervision.

Declaration of Competing Interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.


This research has been carried out within ILIAD (Inte-grated Digital Framework for Comprehensive Maritime Data and Information Services) project that received funding from the European Union’s H2020 programme.

Data availability

Data will be made available on request.


Figure 15. Velocity distribution of impinging jet on a wall under different Reynolds numbers.

Hydraulic Characteristics of Continuous Submerged Jet Impinging on a Wall by Using Numerical Simulation and PIV Experiment

by Hongbo Mi 1,2, Chuan Wang 1,3, Xuanwen Jia 3,*, Bo Hu 2, Hongliang Wang 4, Hui Wang 3 and Yong Zhu 5

1College of Mechatronics Engineering, Hainan Vocational University of Science and Technology, Haikou 571126, China

2Department of Energy and Power Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

3College of Hydraulic Science and Engineering, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, China

4School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering/Flight College, Changzhou Institute of Technology, Changzhou 213032, China

5National Research Center of Pumps, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang 212013, China

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.Sustainability202315(6), 5159;

Received: 30 January 2023 / Revised: 4 March 2023 / Accepted: 10 March 2023 / Published: 14 March 2023(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Technologies of Renewable Energy and Water Management for Sustainable Environment


Due to their high efficiency, low heat loss and associated sustainability advantages, impinging jets have been used extensively in marine engineering, geotechnical engineering and other engineering practices. In this paper, the flow structure and impact characteristics of impinging jets with different Reynolds numbers and impact distances are systematically studied by Flow-3D based on PIV experiments. In the study, the relevant state parameters of the jets are dimensionlessly treated, obtaining not only the linear relationship between the length of the potential nucleation zone and the impinging distance, but also the linear relationship between the axial velocity and the axial distance in the impinging zone. In addition, after the jet impinges on the flat plate, the vortex action range caused by the wall-attached flow of the jet gradually decreases inward with the increase of the impinging distance. By examining the effect of Reynolds number Re on the hydraulic characteristics of the submerged impact jet, it can be found that the structure of the continuous submerged impact jet is relatively independent of the Reynolds number. At the same time, the final simulation results demonstrate the applicability of the linear relationship between the length of the potential core region and the impact distance. This study provides methodological guidance and theoretical support for relevant engineering practice and subsequent research on impinging jets, which has strong theoretical and practical significance.


PIVFlow-3Dimpinging jethydraulic characteristicsimpinging distance

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Figure 1. Geometric model.

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Figure 2. Model grid schematic.

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Figure 3. (a) Schematic diagram of the experimental setup; (b) PIV images of vertical impinging jets with velocity fields.

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Figure 4. (a) Velocity distribution verification at the outlet of the jet pipe; (b) Distribution of flow angle in the mid-axis of the jet [39].

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Figure 5. Along-range distribution of the dimensionless axial velocity of the jet at different impact distances.Figure 6 shows the variation of H

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Figure 6. Relationship between the distribution of potential core region and the impact height H/D.

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Figure 7. The relationship between the potential core length 

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Figure 8. Along-range distribution of the flow angle φ of the jet at different impact distances.

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Figure 9. Velocity distribution along the axis of the jet at different impinging regions.

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Figure 10. The absolute value distribution of slope under different impact distances.

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Figure 11. Velocity distribution of impinging jet on wall under different impinging distances.

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Figure 12. Along-range distribution of the dimensionless axial velocity of the jet at different Reynolds numbers.

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Figure 13. Along-range distribution of the flow angle φ of the jet at different Reynolds numbers.

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Figure 14. Velocity distribution along the jet axis at different Reynolds numbers.

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Figure 15. Velocity distribution of impinging jet on a wall under different Reynolds numbers.


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Mi, H.; Wang, C.; Jia, X.; Hu, B.; Wang, H.; Wang, H.; Zhu, Y. Hydraulic Characteristics of Continuous Submerged Jet Impinging on a Wall by Using Numerical Simulation and PIV Experiment. Sustainability 202315, 5159.

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Mi, Hongbo, Chuan Wang, Xuanwen Jia, Bo Hu, Hongliang Wang, Hui Wang, and Yong Zhu. 2023. “Hydraulic Characteristics of Continuous Submerged Jet Impinging on a Wall by Using Numerical Simulation and PIV Experiment” Sustainability 15, no. 6: 5159.

Figure 1: Mold drawings

3D Flow and Temperature Analysis of Filling a Plutonium Mold

플루토늄 주형 충전의 3D 유동 및 온도 분석

Authors: Orenstein, Nicholas P. [1]

Publication Date:2013-07-24
Research Org.: Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.: DOE/LANL
OSTI Identifier: 1088904
Report Number(s): LA-UR-13-25537
DOE Contract Number: AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type: Technical Report
Country of Publication: United States
Language: English
Subject: Engineering(42); Materials Science(36); Radiation Chemistry, Radiochemistry, & Nuclear Chemistry(38)


The plutonium foundry at Los Alamos National Laboratory casts products for various special nuclear applications. However, plutonium’s radioactivity, material properties, and security constraints complicate the ability to perform experimental analysis of mold behavior. The Manufacturing Engineering and Technologies (MET-2) group previously developed a graphite mold to vacuum cast small plutonium disks to be used by the Department of Homeland Security as point sources for radiation sensor testing.

A two-stage pouring basin consisting of a funnel and an angled cavity directs the liquid into a vertical runner. A stack of ten disk castings connect to the runner by horizontal gates. Volumetric flow rates were implemented to limit overflow into the funnel and minimize foundry returns. Models using Flow-3D computational fluid dynamics software are employed here to determine liquid Pu flow paths, optimal pour regimes, temperature changes, and pressure variations.


Hardcopy drawings provided necessary information to create 3D .stl models for import into Flow-3D (Figs. 1 and 2). The mesh was refined over several iterations to isolate the disk cavities, runner, angled cavity, funnel, and input pour. The final flow and mold-filling simulation utilizes a fine mesh with ~5.5 million total cells. For the temperature study, the mesh contained 1/8 as many cells to reduce computational time and set temperatures to 850 °C for the molten plutonium and 500 °C for the solid graphite mold components (Fig. 3).

Flow-3D solves mass continuity and Navier-Stokes momentum equations over the structured rectangular grid model using finite difference and finite volume numerical algorithms. The solver includes terms in the momentum equation for body and viscous accelerations and uses convective heat transfer.

Simulation settings enabled Flow-3D physics calculations for gravity at 980.665 cm/s 2 in the negative Z direction (top of mold to bottom); viscous, turbulent, incompressible flow using dynamically-computed Renormalized Group Model turbulence calculations and no-slip/partial slip wall shear, and; first order, full energy equation heat transfer.

Mesh boundaries were all set to symmetric boundary conditions except for the Zmin boundary set to outflow and the Zmax boundary set to a volume flow. Vacuum casting conditions and the high reactivity of remaining air molecules with Pu validate the assumption of an initially fluidless void.


The flow follows a unique three-dimensional path. The mold fills upwards with two to three disks receiving fluid in a staggered sequence. Figures 5-9 show how the fluid fills the cavity, and Figure 7 includes the color scale for pressure levels in these four figures. The narrow gate causes a high pressure region which forces the fluid to flow down the cavity centerline.

It proceeds to splash against the far wall and then wrap around the circumference back to the gate (Figs. 5 and 6). Flow in the angled region of the pouring basin cascades over the bottom ledge and attaches to the far wall of the runner, as seen in Figure 7.

This channeling becomes less pronounced as fluid volume levels increase. Finally, two similar but non-uniform depressed regions form about the centerline. These regions fill from their perimeter and bottom until completion (Fig. 8). Such a pattern is counter, for example, to a steady scenario in which a circle of molten Pu encompassing the entire bottom surface rises as a growing cylinder.

Cavity pressure becomes uniform when the cavity is full. Pressure levels build in the rising well section of the runner, where impurities were found to settle in actual casting. Early test simulations optimized the flow as three pours so that the fluid would never overflow to the funnel, the cavities would all fill completely, and small amounts of fluid would remain as foundry returns in the angled cavity.

These rates and durations were translated to the single 2.7s pour at 100 cm 3 per second used here. Figure 9 shows anomalous pressure fluctuations which occurred as the cavities became completely filled. Multiple simulations exhibited a rapid change in pressure from positive to negative and back within the newly-full disk and surrounding, already-full disks.

The time required to completely fill each cavity is plotted in Figure 10. Results show negligible temperature change within the molten Pu during mold filling and, as seen in Figure 11, at fill completion.

Figure 1: Mold drawings
Figure 1: Mold drawings
Figure 2: Mold Assembly
Figure 2: Mold Assembly
Figure 4: Actual mold and cast Pu
Figure 4: Actual mold and cast Pu
Figure 5: Bottom cavity filling
from runner
Figure 5: Bottom cavity filling from runner
Figure 6: Pouring and filling
Figure 6: Pouring and filling
Figure 8: Edge detection of cavity fill geometry. Two similar depressed areas form
about the centerline. Top cavity shown; same pressure scale as other figures
Figure 8: Edge detection of cavity fill geometry. Two similar depressed areas form about the centerline. Top cavity shown; same pressure scale as other figures
Figure 10: Cavity fill times,from first fluid contact with pouring basin, Figure 11:Fluid temperature remains essentially constant
Figure 10: Cavity fill times,from first fluid contact with pouring basin, Figure 11:Fluid temperature remains essentially constant


Non-uniform cavity filling could cause crystal microstructure irregularities during solidification. However, the small temperature changes seen – due to large differences in specific heat between Pu and graphite – over a relatively short time make such problems unlikely in this case.

In the actual casting, cooling required approximately ten minutes. This large difference in time scales further reduces the chance for temperature effects in such a superheated scenario. Pouring basin emptying decreases pressure at the gate which extends fill time of the top two cavities.

The bottom cavity takes longer to fill because fluid must first enter the runner and fill the well. Fill times continue linearly until the top two cavities. The anomalous pressure fluctuations may be due to physical attempts by the system to reach equilibrium, but they are more likely due to numerical errors in the Flow3D solver.

Unsuccessful tests were performed to remove them by halving fluid viscosity. The fine mesh reduced, but did not eliminate, the extent of the fluctuations. Future work is planned to study induction and heat transfer in the full Pu furnace system, including quantifying temporal lag of the cavity void temperature to the mold wall temperature during pre-heat and comparing heat flux levels between furnace components during cool-down.

Thanks to Doug Kautz for the opportunity to work with MET-2 and for assigning an interesting unclassified project. Additional thanks to Mike Bange for CFD guidance, insight of the project’s history, and draft review.

Figure 1.| Physical models of the vertical drop, backdrop and stepped drop developed in the Technical University of Lisbon.

Numerical modelling of air-water flows in sewer drops

하수구 방울의 공기-물 흐름 수치 모델링

Paula Beceiro (corresponding author)
Maria do Céu Almeida
Hydraulic and Environment Department (DHA), National Laboratory for Civil Engineering, Avenida do Brasil 101, 1700-066 Lisbon, Portugal
Jorge Matos
Department of Civil Engineering, Arquitecture and Geosources,
Technical University of Lisbon (IST), Avenida Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal


물 흐름에 용존 산소(DO)의 존재는 해로운 영향의 발생을 방지하는 데 유익한 것으로 인식되는 호기성 조건을 보장하는 중요한 요소입니다.

하수도 시스템에서 흐르는 폐수에 DO를 통합하는 것은 공기-액체 경계면 또는 방울이나 접합부와 같은 특이점의 존재로 인해 혼입된 공기를 통한 연속 재방출의 영향을 정량화하기 위해 광범위하게 조사된 프로세스입니다. 공기 혼입 및 후속 환기를 향상시키기 위한 하수구 드롭의 위치는 하수구의 호기성 조건을 촉진하는 효과적인 방법입니다.

본 논문에서는 수직 낙하, 배경 및 계단식 낙하를 CFD(전산유체역학) 코드 FLOW-3D®를 사용하여 모델링하여 이러한 유형의 구조물의 존재로 인해 발생하는 난류로 인한 공기-물 흐름을 평가했습니다. 이용 가능한 실험적 연구에 기초한 수력학적 변수의 평가와 공기 혼입의 분석이 수행되었습니다.

이러한 구조물에 대한 CFD 모델의 결과는 Soares(2003), Afonso(2004) 및 Azevedo(2006)가 개발한 해당 물리적 모델에서 얻은 방류, 압력 헤드 및 수심의 측정을 사용하여 검증되었습니다.

유압 거동에 대해 매우 잘 맞았습니다. 수치 모델을 검증한 후 공기 연행 분석을 수행했습니다.

The presence of dissolved oxygen (DO) in water flows is an important factor to ensure the aerobic conditions recognised as beneficial to prevent the occurrence of detrimental effects. The incorporation of DO in wastewater flowing in sewer systems is a process widely investigated in order to quantify the effect of continuous reaeration through the air-liquid interface or air entrained due the presence of singularities such as drops or junctions. The location of sewer drops to enhance air entrainment and subsequently reaeration is an effective practice to promote aerobic conditions in sewers. In the present paper, vertical drops, backdrops and stepped drop was modelled using the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code FLOW-3D® to evaluate the air-water flows due to the turbulence induced by the presence of this type of structures. The assessment of the hydraulic variables and an analysis of the air entrainment based in the available experimental studies were carried out. The results of the CFD models for these structures were validated using measurements of discharge, pressure head and water depth obtained in the corresponding physical models developed by Soares (2003), Afonso (2004) and Azevedo (2006). A very good fit was obtained for the hydraulic behaviour. After validation of numerical models, analysis of the air entrainment was carried out.

Key words | air entrainment, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), sewer drops

Figure 1.| Physical models of the vertical drop, backdrop and stepped drop developed in the Technical University of Lisbon.
Figure 1.| Physical models of the vertical drop, backdrop and stepped drop developed in the Technical University of Lisbon.
Figure 3. Comparison between the experimental and numerical pressure head along of the invert of the outlet pipe.
Figure 3. Comparison between the experimental and numerical pressure head along of the invert of the outlet pipe.
Figure 4. Average void fraction along the longitudinal axis of the outlet pipe for the lower discharges in the vertical drop and backdrop.
Figure 4. Average void fraction along the longitudinal axis of the outlet pipe for the lower discharges in the vertical drop and backdrop.


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Development of macro-defect-free PBF-EB-processed Ti–6Al–4V alloys with superior plasticity using PREP-synthesized powder and machine learning-assisted process optimization

Development of macro-defect-free PBF-EB-processed Ti–6Al–4V alloys with superior plasticity using PREP-synthesized powder and machine learning-assisted process optimization

Yunwei GuiabKenta Aoyagib Akihiko Chibab
aDepartment of Materials Processing, Graduate School of Engineering, Tohoku University, 6-6 Aramaki Aza Aoba, Aoba-ku, Sendai, 980-8579, Japan
bInstitute for Materials Research, Tohoku University, 2-1-1 Katahira, Aoba-ku, Sendai, 980-8577, Japan

Received 14 October 2022, Revised 23 December 2022, Accepted 3 January 2023, Available online 5 January 2023.Show lessAdd to MendeleyShareCite rights and content


The elimination of internal macro-defects is a key issue in Ti–6Al–4V alloys fabricated via powder bed fusion using electron beams (PBF-EB), wherein internal macro-defects mainly originate from the virgin powder and inappropriate printing parameters. This study compares different types powders by combining support vector machine techniques to determine the most suitable powder for PBF-EB and to predict the processing window for the printing parameters without internal macro-defects. The results show that powders fabricated via plasma rotating electrode process have the best sphericity, flowability, and minimal porosity and are most suitable for printing. Surface roughness criterion was also applied to determine the quality of the even surfaces, and support vector machine was used to construct processing maps capable of predicting a wide range of four-dimensional printing parameters to obtain macro-defect-free samples, offering the possibility of subsequent development of Ti–6Al–4V alloys with excellent properties. The macro-defect-free samples exhibited good elongation, with the best overall mechanical properties being the ultimate tensile strength and elongation of 934.7 MPa and 24.3%, respectively. The elongation of the three macro-defect-free samples was much higher than that previously reported for additively manufactured Ti–6Al–4V alloys. The high elongation of the samples in this work is mainly attributed to the elimination of internal macro-defects.


Additive manufacturing (AM) technologies can rapidly manufacture complex or custom parts, reducing process steps and saving manufacturing time [[1], [2], [3], [4]], and are widely used in the aerospace, automotive, and other precision industries [5,6]. Powder bed fusion using an electron beam (PBF-EB) is an additive manufacturing method that uses a high-energy electron beam to melt metal powders layer by layer to produce parts. In contrast to selective laser melting, PBF-EB involves the preparation of samples in a high vacuum environment, which effectively prevents the introduction of impurities such as O and N. It also involves a preheating process for the print substrate and powder, which reduces residual thermal stress on the sample and subsequent heat treatment processes [[2], [3], [4],7]. Due to these features and advantages, PBF-EB technology is a very important AM technology with great potential in metallic materials. Moreover, PBF-EB is the ideal AM technology for the manufacture of complex components made of many alloys, such as titanium alloys, nickel-based superalloys, aluminum alloys and stainless steels [[2], [3], [4],8].

Ti–6Al–4V alloy is one of the prevalent commercial titanium alloys possessing high specific strength, excellent mechanical properties, excellent corrosion resistance, and good biocompatibility [9,10]. It is widely used in applications requiring low density and excellent corrosion resistance, such as the aerospace industry and biomechanical applications [11,12]. The mechanical properties of PBF-EB-processed Ti–6Al–4V alloys are superior to those fabricated by casting or forging, because the rapid cooling rate in PBF-EB results in finer grains [[12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18]]. However, the PBF-EB-fabricated parts often include internal macro-defects, which compromises their mechanical properties [[19], [20], [21], [22]]. This study focused on the elimination of macro-defects, such as porosity, lack of fusion, incomplete penetration and unmelted powders, which distinguishes them from micro-defects such as vacancies, dislocations, grain boundaries and secondary phases, etc. Large-sized fusion defects cause a severe reduction in mechanical strength. Smaller defects, such as pores and cracks, lead to the initiation of fatigue cracking and rapidly accelerate the cracking process [23]. The issue of internal macro-defects must be addressed to expand the application of the PBF-EB technology. The main studies for controlling internal macro-defects are online monitoring of defects, remelting and hot isostatic pressing (HIP). The literatures [24,25] report the use of infrared imaging or other imaging techniques to identify defects, but the monitoring of smaller sized defects is still not adequate. And in some cases remelting does not reduce the internal macro-defects of the part, but instead causes coarsening of the macrostructure and volatilization of some metal elements [23]. The HIP treatment does not completely eliminate the internal macro-defects, the original defect location may still act as a point of origin of the crack, and the subsequent treatment will consume more time and economic costs [23]. Therefore, optimizing suitable printing parameters to avoid internal macro-defects in printed parts at source is of great industrial value and research significance, and is an urgent issue in PBF-EB related technology.

There are two causes of internal macro-defects in the AM process: gas pores trapped in the virgin powder and the inappropriate printing parameters [7,23]. Gui et al. [26] classify internal macro-defects during PBF-EB process according to their shape, such as spherical defects, elongated shape defects, flat shape defects and other irregular shape defects. Of these, spherical defects mainly originate from raw material powders. Other shape defects mainly originate from lack of fusion or unmelted powders caused by unsuitable printing parameters, etc. The PBF-EB process requires powders with good flowability, and spherical powders are typically chosen as raw materials. The prevalent techniques for the fabrication of pre-alloyed powders are gas atomization (GA), plasma atomization (PA), and the plasma rotating electrode process (PREP) [27,28]. These methods yield powders with different characteristics that affect the subsequent fabrication. The selection of a suitable powder for PBF-EB is particularly important to produce Ti–6Al–4V alloys without internal macro-defects. The need to optimize several printing parameters such as beam current, scan speed, line offset, and focus offset make it difficult to eliminate internal macro-defects that occur during printing [23]. Most of the studies [11,12,22,[29], [30], [31], [32], [33]] on the optimization of AM processes for Ti–6Al–4V alloys have focused on samples with a limited set of parameters (e.g., power–scan speed) and do not allow for the guidance and development of unknown process windows for macro-defect-free samples. In addition, process optimization remains a time-consuming problem, with the traditional ‘trial and error’ method demanding considerable time and economic costs. The development of a simple and efficient method to predict the processing window for alloys without internal macro-defects is a key issue. In recent years, machine learning techniques have increasingly been used in the field of additive manufacturing and materials development [[34], [35], [36], [37]]. Aoyagi et al. [38] recently proposed a novel and efficient method based on a support vector machine (SVM) to optimize the two-dimensional process parameters (current and scan speed) and obtain PBF-EB-processed CoCr alloys without internal macro-defects. The method is one of the potential approaches toward effective optimization of more than two process parameters and makes it possible for the machine learning techniques to accelerate the development of alloys without internal macro-defects.

Herein, we focus on the elimination of internal macro-defects, such as pores, lack of fusion, etc., caused by raw powders and printing parameters. The Ti–6Al–4V powders produced by three different methods were compared, and the powder with the best sphericity, flowability, and minimal porosity was selected as the feedstock for subsequent printing. The relationship between the surface roughness and internal macro-defects in the Ti–6Al–4V components was also investigated. The combination of SVM and surface roughness indices (Sdr) predicted a wider four-dimensional processing window for obtaining Ti–6Al–4V alloys without internal macro-defects. Finally, we investigated the tensile properties of Ti–6Al–4V alloys at room temperature with different printing parameters, as well as the corresponding microstructures and fracture types.

Section snippets

Starting materials

Three types of Ti–6Al–4V alloy powders, produced by GA, PA, and PREP, were compared. The particle size distribution of the powders was determined using a laser particle size analyzer (LS230, Beckman Coulter, USA), and the flowability was measured using a Hall flowmeter (JIS-Z2502, Tsutsui Scientific Instruments Co., Ltd., Japan), according to the ASTM B213 standard. The powder morphology and internal macro-defects were determined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM, JEOL JCM-6000) and X-ray 

Comparison of the characteristics of GA, PA, and PREP Ti–6Al–4V powders

The particle size distributions (PSDs) and flowability of the three types of Ti–6Al–4V alloy powders produced by GA, PA, and PREP are shown in Fig. 2. Although the average particle sizes are similar (89.4 μm for GA, 82.5 μm for PA, and 86.1μm for PREP), the particle size range is different for the three types of powder (6.2–174.8 μm for GA, 27.3–139.2 μm for PA, and 39.4–133.9 μm for PREP). The flowability of the GA, PA, and PREP powders was 30.25 ± 0.98, 26.54 ± 0.37, and 25.03 ± 0.22 (s/50


The characteristics of the three types of Ti–6Al–4V alloy powders produced via GA, PA, and PREP were compared. The PREP powder with the best sphericity, flowability, and low porosity was found to be the most favorable powder for subsequent printing of Ti–6Al–4V alloys without internal macro-defects. The quantitative criterion of Sdr <0.015 for even surfaces was also found to be applicable to Ti–6Al–4V alloys. The process maps of Ti–6Al–4V alloys include two regions, high beam current/scan speed 

Uncited references

[55]; [56]; [57]; [58]; [59]; [60]; [61]; [62]; [63]; [64]; [65].

CRediT authorship contribution statement

Yunwei Gui: Writing – original draft, Visualization, Validation, Investigation. Kenta Aoyagi: Writing – review & editing, Supervision, Resources, Methodology, Funding acquisition, Conceptualization. Akihiko Chiba: Supervision, Funding acquisition.

Declaration of competing interest

The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.


This study was based on the results obtained from project JPNP19007, commissioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). This work was also supported by JSPS KAKENHI (Proposal No. 21K03801) and the Inter-University Cooperative Research Program (Proposal nos. 18G0418, 19G0411, and 20G0418) of the Cooperative Research and Development Center for Advanced Materials, Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University. It was also supported by the Council for

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Fig. 2 Modeling of bubble point test apparatus (left) and computational grid (righ

Flow-3d를 이용한 표면장력 탱크용메시스크린모델링

Modeling of Mesh Screen for Use in Surface TensionTankUsing Flow-3d Software

Hyuntak Kim․ Sang Hyuk Lim․Hosung Yoon․Jeong-Bae Park*․Sejin Kwon


Mesh screen modeling and liquid propellant discharge simulation of surface tension tank wereperformed using commercial CFD software Flow-3d. 350 × 2600, 400 × 3000 and 510 × 3600 DTW mesh screen were modeled using macroscopic porous media model. Porosity, capillary pressure, and drag
coefficient were assigned for each mesh screen model, and bubble point simulations were performed. The
mesh screen model was validated with the experimental data. Based on the screen modeling, liquidpropellant discharge simulation from PMD tank was performed. NTO was assigned as the liquidpropellant, and void was set to flow into the tank inlet to achieve an initial volume flowrate of
liquid propellant in 3 × 10-3 g acceleration condition. The intial flow pressure drop through the meshscreen was approximately 270 Pa, and the pressure drop increased with time. Liquid propellant
discharge was sustained until the flow pressure drop reached approximately 630 Pa, which was near
the estimated bubble point value of the screen model.

초 록

상용 CFD 프로그램 Flow-3d를 활용하여, 표면 장력 탱크 적용을 위한 메시 스크린의 모델링 및 추진제 배출 해석을 수행하였다. Flow-3d 내 거시적 다공성 매체 모델을 사용하였으며, 350 × 2600, 400× 3000, 510 × 3600 DTW 메시 스크린에 대한 공극률, 모세관압, 항력계수를 스크린 모델에 대입 후, 기포점 측정 시뮬레이션을 수행하였다.

시뮬레이션 결과를 실험 데이터와 비교하였으며, 메시 스크린 모델링의 적절성을 검증하였다. 이를 기반으로 스크린 모델을 포함한 PMD 구조체에 대한 추진제 배출 해석을 수행하였다. 추진제는 액상의 NTO를 가정하였으며, 3 × 10-3 g 가속 조건에서 초기 유량을만족하도록 void를 유입시켰다. 메시 스크린을 통한 차압은 초기 약 270 Pa에서 시간에 따라 증가하였으며, 스크린 모델의 예상 기포점과 유사한 630 Pa에 이르기까지 액상 추진제 배출을 지속하였다.

Key Words

Surface Tension Tank(표면장력 탱크), Propellant Management Device(추진제 관리 장치),
Mesh Screen(메시 스크린), Porous Media Model(다공성 매체 모델), Bubble Point(기포점)


    우주비행체를 미소 중력 조건 내에서 운용하 는 경우, 가압 기체가 액상의 추진제와 혼합되어 엔진으로 공급될 우려가 있으므로 이를 방지하 기 위한 탱크의 설계가 필요하다.

    다이어프램 (Diaphragm), 피스톤(Piston) 등 다양한 장치들 이 활용되고 있으며, 이 중 표면 장력 탱크는 내 부의 메시 스크린(Mesh screen), 베인(Vane) 등 의 구조체에서 추진제의 표면장력을 활용함으로 써 액상 추진제의 이송 및 배출을 유도하는 방 식이다.

    표면 장력 탱크는 구동부가 없는 구조로 신뢰성이 높고, 전 부분을 티타늄 등의 금속 재 질로 구성함으로써 부식성 추진제의 사용 조건 에서도 장기 운용이 가능한 장점이 있다. 위에서 언급한 메시 스크린(Mesh screen)은 수 십 마이크로미터 두께의 금속 와이어를 직조한 다공성 재질로 표면 장력 탱크의 핵심 구성 요소 중 하나이다.

    미세 공극 상 추진제의 표면장력에 의해 기체와 액체 간 계면을 일정 차압 내에서 유지시킬 수 있다. 이러한 성질로 인해 일정 조 건에서 가압 기체가 메시 스크린을 통과하지 못 하게 되고, 스크린을 탱크 유로에 설치함으로써 액상의 추진제 배출을 유도할 수 있다.

    메시 스크린이 가압 기체를 통과시키기 직전 의 기체-액체 계면에 형성되는 최대 차압을 기포 점 (Bubble point) 이라 칭하며, 메시 스크린의 주 요 성능 지표 중 하나이다. IPA, 물, LH2, LCH4 등 다양한 기준 유체 및 추진제, 다양한 메시 스 크린 사양에 대해 기포점 측정 관련 실험적 연 구가 이루어져 왔다 [1-3].

    위 메시 스크린을 포함하여 표면 장력 탱크 내 액상의 추진제 배출을 유도하는 구조물 일체 를 PMD(Propellant management device)라 칭하 며, 갤러리(Gallery), 베인(Vane), 스펀지(Sponge), 트랩(Trap) 등 여러 종류의 구조물에 대해 각종 형상 변수를 내포한다[4, 5].

    따라서 다양한 파라미터를 고려한 실험적 연구는 제약이 따를 수 있으며, 베인 등 상대적으로 작은 미소 중력 조건에서 개방형 유로를 활용하는 경우 지상 추진제 배출 실험이 불가능하다[6]. 그러므로 CFD를 통한 표면장력 탱크 추진제 배출 해석은 다양한 작동 조건 및 PMD 형상 변수에 따른 추진제 거동을 이해하고, 탱크를 설계하는 데 유용하게 활용될 수 있다.

    상기 추진제 배출 해석을 수행하기 위해서는 핵심 요소 중 하나인 메시 스크린에 대한 모델링이 필수적이다. Chato, McQuillen 등은 상용 CFD 프로그램인 Fluent를 통해, 갤러리 내 유동 시뮬레이션을 수행하였으며, 이 때 메시 스크린에 ‘porous jump’ 경계 조건을 적용함으로써 액상의 추진제가 스크린을 통과할 때 생기는 압력 강하를 모델링하였다[7, 8].

    그러나 앞서 언급한 메시 스크린의 기포점 특성을 모델링한 사례는 찾아보기 힘들다. 이는 스크린을 활용하는 표면 장력 탱크 내 액상 추진제 배출 현상을 해석적으로 구현하기 위해 반드시 필요한 부분이다. 본 연구에서는 자유표면 해석에 상대적으로 강점을 지닌 상용 CFD 프로그램 Flow-3d를 사용하여, 메시 스크린을 모델링하였다.

    거시적 다공성 매체 모델(Macroscopic porous mediamodel)을 활용하여 메시 스크린 모델 영역에 공극률(Porosity), 모세관압(Capillary pressure), 항력 계수(Drag coefficient)를 지정하고, 이를 기반으로 기포점 측정 시뮬레이션을 수행, 해석 결과와 실험 데이터 간 비교 및 검증을 수행하였다.

    이를 기반으로 메시 스크린 및 PMD구조체를 포함한 탱크의 추진제 배출 해석을 수행하고, 기포점 특성의 반영 여부를 확인하였다.

    Fig. 1 Real geometry-based mesh screen model (left)
and mesh screen model based on macroscopic
porous media model in Flow-3d (righ
    Fig. 1 Real geometry-based mesh screen model (left) and mesh screen model based on macroscopic porous media model in Flow-3d (righ
    Fig. 2 Modeling of bubble point test apparatus (left)
and computational grid (righ
    Fig. 2 Modeling of bubble point test apparatus (left) and computational grid (righ)
    Fig. 3 Modeling of sump in a tank (left) and lower part
of the sump structure (right)
    Fig. 3 Modeling of sump in a tank (left) and lower part of the sump structure (right)

    참 고 문 헌

    1. David J. C and Maureen T. K, ScreenChannel Liquid Aquisition Devices for Cryogenic Propellants” NASA-TM-2005- 213638, 2005
    2. Hartwig, J., Mann, J. A. Jr., Darr, S. R., “Parametric Analysis of the LiquidHydrogen and Nitrogen Bubble Point Pressure for Cryogenic Liquid AcquisitionDevices”, Cryogenics, Vol. 63, 2014, pp. 25-36
    3. Jurns, J. M., McQuillen, J. B.,BubblePoint Measurement with Liquid Methane of a Screen Capillary Liquid AcquisitionDevice”, NASA-TM-2009-215496, 2009
    4. Jaekle, D. E. Jr., “Propellant Management Device: Conceptual Design and Analysis: Galleries”, AIAA 29th Joint PropulsionConference, AIAA-97-2811, 1997
    5. Jaekle, D. E. Jr., “Propellant Management Device: Conceptual Design and Analysis: Traps and Troughs”, AIAA 31th Joint Propulsion Conference, AIAA-95-2531, 1995
    6. Yu, A., Ji, B., Zhuang, B. T., Hu, Q., Luo, X. W., Xu, H. Y., “Flow Analysis inaVane-type Surface Tension Propellant Tank”, IOP Conference Series: MaterialsScience and Engineering, Vol. 52, No. 7, – 990 – 2013, Article number: 072018
    7. Chato, D. J., McQuillen, J. B., Motil, B. J., Chao, D. F., Zhang, N., CFD simulation of Pressure Drops in Liquid Acquisition Device Channel with Sub-Cooled Oxygen”, World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, Vol. 3, 2009, pp. 144-149
    8. McQuillen, J. B., Chao, D. F., Hall, N. R., Motil, B. J., Zhang, N., CFD simulation of Flow in Capillary Flow Liquid Acquisition Device Channel”, World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, Vol. 6, 2012, pp. 640-646
    9. Hartwig, J., Chato, D., McQuillen, J.,  Screen Channel LAD Bubble Point Tests in Liquid Hydrogen”, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2014, pp. 853-861
    10. Fischer, A., Gerstmann, J., “Flow Resistance of Metallic Screens in Liquid, Gaseous and Cryogenic Flow”, 5th European Conferencefor Aeronautics and Space Sciences, Munich, Germany, 2013
    11. Fries, N., Odic, K., Dreyer, M., Wickingof Perfectly Wetting Liquids into a MetallicMesh”, 2nd International Conference onPorous Media and its Applications inScience and Engineering, 2007
    12. Seo, M, K., Kim, D, H., Seo, C, W., Lee, S, Y., Jang, S, P., Koo, J., “Experimental Study of Pressure Drop in CompressibleFluid through Porous Media”, Transactionsof the Korean Society of Mechanical Engineers – B, Vol. 37, No. 8, pp. 759-765, 2013.
    13. Hartwig, J., Mann, J. A., “Bubble Point Pressures of Binary Methanol/Water Mixtures in Fine-Mesh Screens”, AlChEJournal, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2014, pp. 730-739
    Fig. 1. (a) Dimensions of the casting with runners (unit: mm), (b) a melt flow simulation using Flow-3D software together with Reilly's model[44], predicted that a large amount of bifilms (denoted by the black particles) would be contained in the final casting. (c) A solidification simulation using Pro-cast software showed that no shrinkage defect was contained in the final casting.

    AZ91 합금 주물 내 연행 결함에 대한 캐리어 가스의 영향

    aUniversity of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom
    bGrainger and Worrall Ltd, Bridgnorth WV15 5HP, United Kingdom
    cBrunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology, Brunel University London, Kingston Ln, London, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, United Kingdom


    An entrainment defect (also known as a double oxide film defect or bifilm) acts a void containing an entrapped gas when submerged into a light-alloy melt, thus reducing the quality and reproducibility of the final castings. Previous publications, carried out with Al-alloy castings, reported that this trapped gas could be subsequently consumed by the reaction with the surrounding melt, thus reducing the void volume and negative effect of entrainment defects. Compared with Al-alloys, the entrapped gas within Mg-alloy might be more efficiently consumed due to the relatively high reactivity of magnesium. However, research into the entrainment defects within Mg alloys has been significantly limited. In the present work, AZ91 alloy castings were produced under different carrier gas atmospheres (i.e., SF6/CO2, SF6/air). The evolution processes of the entrainment defects contained in AZ91 alloy were suggested according to the microstructure inspections and thermodynamic calculations. The defects formed in the different atmospheres have a similar sandwich-like structure, but their oxide films contained different combinations of compounds. The use of carrier gases, which were associated with different entrained-gas consumption rates, affected the reproducibility of AZ91 castings.

    연행 결함(이중 산화막 결함 또는 이중막이라고도 함)은 경합금 용융물에 잠길 때 갇힌 가스를 포함하는 공극으로 작용하여 최종 주물의 품질과 재현성을 저하시킵니다. Al-합금 주물을 사용하여 수행된 이전 간행물에서는 이 갇힌 가스가 주변 용융물과의 반응에 의해 후속적으로 소모되어 공극 부피와 연행 결함의 부정적인 영향을 줄일 수 있다고 보고했습니다. Al-합금에 비해 마그네슘의 상대적으로 높은 반응성으로 인해 Mg-합금 내에 포집된 가스가 더 효율적으로 소모될 수 있습니다. 그러나 Mg 합금 내 연행 결함에 대한 연구는 상당히 제한적이었습니다. 현재 작업에서 AZ91 합금 주물은 다양한 캐리어 가스 분위기(즉, SF6/CO2, SF6/공기)에서 생산되었습니다. AZ91 합금에 포함된 연행 결함의 진화 과정은 미세 조직 검사 및 열역학 계산에 따라 제안되었습니다. 서로 다른 분위기에서 형성된 결함은 유사한 샌드위치 구조를 갖지만 산화막에는 서로 다른 화합물 조합이 포함되어 있습니다. 다른 동반 가스 소비율과 관련된 운반 가스의 사용은 AZ91 주물의 재현성에 영향을 미쳤습니다.


    Magnesium alloy, Casting, Oxide film, Bifilm, Entrainment defect, Reproducibility

    1. Introduction

    As the lightest structural metal available on Earth, magnesium became one of the most attractive light metals over the last few decades. The magnesium industry has consequently experienced a rapid development in the last 20 years [1,2], indicating a large growth in demand for Mg alloys all over the world. Nowadays, the use of Mg alloys can be found in the fields of automobiles, aerospace, electronics and etc.[3,4]. It has been predicted that the global consumption of Mg metals will further increase in the future, especially in the automotive industry, as the energy efficiency requirement of both traditional and electric vehicles further push manufactures lightweight their design [3,5,6].

    The sustained growth in demand for Mg alloys motivated a wide interest in the improvement of the quality and mechanical properties of Mg-alloy castings. During a Mg-alloy casting process, surface turbulence of the melt can lead to the entrapment of a doubled-over surface film containing a small quantity of the surrounding atmosphere, thus forming an entrainment defect (also known as a double oxide film defect or bifilm) [7][8][9][10]. The random size, quantity, orientation, and placement of entrainment defects are widely accepted to be significant factors linked to the variation of casting properties [7]. In addition, Peng et al. [11] found that entrained oxides films in AZ91 alloy melt acted as filters to Al8Mn5 particles, trapping them as they settle. Mackie et al. [12] further suggested that entrained oxide films can act to trawl the intermetallic particles, causing them to cluster and form extremely large defects. The clustering of intermetallic compounds made the entrainment defects more detrimental for the casting properties.

    Most of the previous studies regarding entrainment defects were carried out on Al-alloys [7,[13][14][15][16][17][18], and a few potential methods have been suggested for diminishing their negative effect on the quality of Al-alloy castings. Nyahumwa et al.,[16] shows that the void volume within entrainment defects could be reduced by a hot isostatic pressing (HIP) process. Campbell [7] suggested the entrained gas within the defects could be consumed due to reaction with the surrounding melt, which was further verified by Raiszedeh and Griffiths [19].The effect of the entrained gas consumption on the mechanical properties of Al-alloy castings has been investigated by [8,9], suggesting that the consumption of the entrained gas promoted the improvement of the casting reproducibility.

    Compared with the investigation concerning the defects within Al-alloys, research into the entrainment defects within Mg-alloys has been significantly limited. The existence of entrainment defects has been demonstrated in Mg-alloy castings [20,21], but their behaviour, evolution, as well as entrained gas consumption are still not clear.

    In a Mg-alloy casting process, the melt is usually protected by a cover gas to avoid magnesium ignition. The cavities of sand or investment moulds are accordingly required to be flushed with the cover gas prior to the melt pouring [22]. Therefore, the entrained gas within Mg-alloy castings should contain the cover gas used in the casting process, rather than air only, which may complicate the structure and evolution of the corresponding entrainment defects.

    SF6 is a typical cover gas widely used for Mg-alloy casting processes [23][24][25]. Although this cover gas has been restricted to use in European Mg-alloy foundries, a commercial report has pointed out that this cover is still popular in global Mg-alloy industry, especially in the countries which dominated the global Mg-alloy production, such as China, Brazil, India, etc. [26]. In addition, a survey in academic publications also showed that this cover gas was widely used in recent Mg-alloy studies [27]. The protective mechanism of SF6 cover gas (i.e., the reaction between liquid Mg-alloy and SF6 cover gas) has been investigated by several previous researchers, but the formation process of the surface oxide film is still not clearly understood, and even some published results are conflicting with each other. In early 1970s, Fruehling [28] found that the surface film formed under SF6 was MgO mainly with traces of fluorides, and suggested that SF6 was absorbed in the Mg-alloy surface film. Couling [29] further noticed that the absorbed SF6 reacted with the Mg-alloy melt to form MgF2. In last 20 years, different structures of the Mg-alloy surface films have been reported, as detailed below.(1)

    Single-layered film. Cashion [30,31] used X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) and Auger Spectroscopy (AES) to identify the surface film as MgO and MgF2. He also found that composition of the film was constant throughout the thickness and the whole experimental holding time. The film observed by Cashion had a single-layered structure created from a holding time from 10 min to 100 min.(2)

    Double-layered film. Aarstad et. al [32] reported a doubled-layered surface oxide film in 2003. They observed several well-distributed MgF2 particles attached to the preliminary MgO film and grew until they covered 25–50% of the total surface area. The inward diffusion of F through the outer MgO film was the driving force for the evolution process. This double-layered structure was also supported by Xiong’s group [25,33] and Shih et al. [34].(3)

    Triple-layered film. The triple-layered film and its evolution process were reported in 2002 by Pettersen [35]. Pettersen found that the initial surface film was a MgO phase and then gradually evolved to the stable MgF2 phase by the inward diffusion of F. In the final stage, the film has a triple-layered structure with a thin O-rich interlayer between the thick top and bottom MgF2 layers.(4)

    Oxide film consisted of discrete particles. Wang et al [36] stirred the Mg-alloy surface film into the melt under a SF6 cover gas, and then inspect the entrained surface film after the solidification. They found that the entrained surface films were not continues as the protective surface films reported by other researchers but composed of discrete particles. The young oxide film was composed of MgO nano-sized oxide particles, while the old oxide films consist of coarse particles (about 1  µm in average size) on one side that contained fluorides and nitrides.

    The oxide films of a Mg-alloy melt surface or an entrained gas are both formed due to the reaction between liquid Mg-alloy and the cover gas, thus the above-mentioned research regarding the Mg-alloy surface film gives valuable insights into the evolution of entrainment defects. The protective mechanism of SF6 cover gas (i.e., formation of a Mg-alloy surface film) therefore indicated a potential complicated evolution process of the corresponding entrainment defects.

    However, it should be noted that the formation of a surface film on a Mg-alloy melt is in a different situation to the consumption of an entrained gas that is submerged into the melt. For example, a sufficient amount of cover gas was supported during the surface film formation in the studies previously mentioned, which suppressed the depletion of the cover gas. In contrast, the amount of entrained gas within a Mg-alloy melt is finite, and the entrained gas may become fully depleted. Mirak [37] introduced 3.5%SF6/air bubbles into a pure Mg-alloy melt solidifying in a specially designed permanent mould. It was found that the gas bubbles were entirely consumed, and the corresponding oxide film was a mixture of MgO and MgF2. However, the nucleation sites (such as the MgF2 spots observed by Aarstad [32] and Xiong [25,33]) were not observed. Mirak also speculated that the MgF2 formed prior to MgO in the oxide film based on the composition analysis, which was opposite to the surface film formation process reported in previous literatures (i.e., MgO formed prior to MgF2). Mirak’s work indicated that the oxide-film formation of an entrained gas may be quite different from that of surface films, but he did not reveal the structure and evolution of the oxide films.

    In addition, the use of carrier gas in the cover gases also influenced the reaction between the cover gas and the liquid Mg-alloy. SF6/air required a higher content of SF6 than did a SF6/CO2 carrier gas [38], to avoid the ignition of molten magnesium, revealing different gas-consumption rates. Liang [39] suggested that carbon was formed in the surface film when CO2 was used as a carrier gas, which was different from the films formed in SF6/air. An investigation into Mg combustion [40] reported a detection of Mg2C3 in the Mg-alloy sample after burning in CO2, which not only supported Liang’s results, but also indicated a potential formation of Mg carbides in double oxide film defects.

    The work reported here is an investigation into the behaviour and evolution of entrainment defects formed in AZ91 Mg-alloy castings, protected by different cover gases (i.e., SF6/air and SF6/CO2). These carrier gases have different protectability for liquid Mg alloy, which may be therefore associated with different consumption rates and evolution processes of the corresponding entrained gases. The effect of the entrained-gas consumption on the reproducibility of AZ91 castings was also studied.

    2. Experiment

    2.1. Melting and casting

    Three kilograms AZ91 alloy was melted in a mild steel crucible at 700 ± 5 °C. The composition of the AZ91 alloy has been shown in Table 1. Prior to heating, all oxide scale on the ingot surface was removed by machining. The cover gases used were 0.5%SF6/air or 0.5%SF6/CO2 (vol.%) at a flow rate of 6 L/min for different castings. The melt was degassed by argon with a flow rate of 0.3 L/min for 15 min [41,42], and then poured into sand moulds. Prior to pouring, the sand mould cavity was flushed with the cover gas for 20 min [22]. The residual melt (around 1 kg) was solidified in the crucible.

    Table 1. Composition (wt.%) of the AZ91 alloy used in this study.


    Fig. 1(a) shows the dimensions of the casting with runners. A top-filling system was deliberately used to generate entrainment defects in the final castings. Green and Campbell [7,43] suggested that a top-filling system caused more entrainment events (i.e., bifilms) during a casting process, compared with a bottom-filling system. A melt flow simulation (Flow-3D software) of this mould, using Reilly’s model [44] regarding the entrainment events, also predicted that a large amount of bifilms would be contained in the final casting (denoted by the black particles in Fig. 1b).

    Fig. 1. (a) Dimensions of the casting with runners (unit: mm), (b) a melt flow simulation using Flow-3D software together with Reilly's model[44], predicted that a large amount of bifilms (denoted by the black particles) would be contained in the final casting. (c) A solidification simulation using Pro-cast software showed that no shrinkage defect was contained in the final casting.

    Shrinkage defects also affect the mechanical properties and reproducibility of castings. Since this study focused on the effect of bifilms on the casting quality, the mould has been deliberately designed to avoid generating shrinkage defects. A solidification simulation using ProCAST software showed that no shrinkage defect would be contained in the final casting, as shown in Fig. 1c. The casting soundness has also been confirmed using a real time X-ray prior to the test bar machining.

    The sand moulds were made from resin-bonded silica sand, containing 1wt. % PEPSET 5230 resin and 1wt. % PEPSET 5112 catalyst. The sand also contained 2 wt.% Na2SiF6 to act as an inhibitor [45]. The pouring temperature was 700 ± 5 °C. After the solidification, a section of the runner bars was sent to the Sci-Lab Analytical Ltd for a H-content analysis (LECO analysis), and all the H-content measurements were carried out on the 5th day after the casting process. Each of the castings was machined into 40 test bars for a tensile strength test, using a Zwick 1484 tensile test machine with a clip extensometer. The fracture surfaces of the broken test bars were examined using Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM, Philips JEOL7000) with an accelerating voltage of 5–15 kV. The fractured test bars, residual Mg-alloy solidified in the crucible, and the casting runners were then sectioned, polished and also inspected using the same SEM. The cross-section of the oxide film found on the test-bar fracture surface was exposed by the Focused Ion Beam milling technique (FIB), using a CFEI Quanta 3D FEG FIB-SEM. The oxide film required to be analysed was coated with a platinum layer. Then, a gallium ion beam, accelerated to 30 kV, milled the material substrate surrounding the platinum coated area to expose the cross section of the oxide film. EDS analysis of the oxide film’s cross section was carried out using the FIB equipment at accelerating voltage of 30 kV.

    2.2. Oxidation cell

    As previously mentioned, several past researchers investigated the protective film formed on a Mg-alloy melt surface [38,39,[46][47][48][49][50][51][52]. During these experiments, the amount of cover gas used was sufficient, thus suppressing the depletion of fluorides in the cover gas. The experiment described in this section used a sealed oxidation cell, which limited the supply of cover gas, to study the evolution of the oxide films of entrainment defects. The cover gas contained in the oxidation cell was regarded as large-size “entrained bubble”.

    As shown in Fig. 2, the main body of the oxidation cell was a closed-end mild steel tube which had an inner length of 400 mm, and an inner diameter of 32 mm. A water-cooled copper tube was wrapped around the upper section of the cell. When the tube was heated, the cooling system created a temperature difference between the upper and lower sections, causing the interior gas to convect within the tube. The temperature was monitored by a type-K thermocouple located at the top of the crucible. Nie et al. [53] suggested that the SF6 cover gas would react with the steel wall of the holding furnace when they investigated the surface film of a Mg-alloy melt. To avoid this reaction, the interior surface of the steel oxidation cell (shown in Fig. 2) and the upper half section of the thermocouple were coated with boron nitride (the Mg-alloy was not in contact with boron nitride).

    Fig. 2. Schematic of the oxidation cell used to study the evolution of the oxide films of the entrainment defects (unit mm).

    During the experiment, a block of solid AZ91 alloy was placed in a magnesia crucible located at the bottom of the oxidation cell. The cell was heated to 100 °C in an electric resistance furnace under a gas flow rate of 1 L/min. The cell was held at this temperature for 20 min, to replace the original trapped atmosphere (i.e. air). Then, the oxidation cell was further heated to 700 °C, melting the AZ91 sample. The gas inlet and exit valves were then closed, creating a sealed environment for oxidation under a limited supply of cover gas. The oxidation cell was then held at 700 ± 10 °C for periods of time from 5 min to 30 min in 5-min intervals. At the end of each holding time, the cell was quenched in water. After cooling to room temperature, the oxidised sample was sectioned, polished, and subsequently examined by SEM.

    3. Results

    3.1. Structure and composition of the entrainment defects formed in SF6/air

    The structure and composition of the entrainment defect formed in the AZ91 castings under a cover gas of 0.5%SF6/air was observed by SEM and EDS. The results indicate that there exist two types of entrainment defects which are sketched in Fig. 3: (1) Type A defect whose oxide film has a traditional single-layered structure and (2) Type B defect, whose oxide film has two layers. The details of these defects were introduced in the following. Here it should be noticed that, as the entrainment defects are also known as biofilms or double oxide film, the oxide films of Type B defect were referred to as “multi-layered oxide film” or “multi-layered structure” in the present work to avoid a confusing description such as “the double-layered oxide film of a double oxide film defect”.

    Fig. 3. Schematic of the different types of entrainment defects found in AZ91 castings. (a) Type A defect with a single-layered oxide film and (b) Type B defect with two-layered oxide film.

    Fig. 4(a-b) shows a Type A defect having a compact single-layered oxide film with about 0.4 µm thickness. Oxygen, fluorine, magnesium and aluminium were detected in this film (Fig. 4c). It is speculated that oxide film is the mixture of fluoride and oxide of magnesium and aluminium. The detection of fluorine revealed that an entrained cover gas was contained in the formation of this defect. That is to say that the pores shown in Fig. 4(a) were not shrinkage defects or hydrogen porosity, but entrainment defects. The detection of aluminium was different with Xiong and Wang’s previous study [47,48], which showed that no aluminium was contained in their surface film of an AZ91 melt protected by a SF6 cover gas. Sulphur could not be clearly recognized in the element map, but there was a S-peak in the corresponding ESD spectrum.

    Fig. 4. (a) A Type A entrainment defect formed in SF6/air and having a single-layered oxide film, (b) the oxide film of this defect, (c) SEM-EDS element maps (using Philips JEOL7000) corresponding to the area highlighted in (b).

    Fig. 5(a-b) shows a Type B entrainment defect having a multi-layered oxide film. The compact outer layers of the oxide films were enriched with fluorine and oxygen (Fig. 5c), while their relatively porous inner layers were only enriched with oxygen (i.e., poor in fluorine) and partly grew together, thus forming a sandwich-like structure. Therefore, it is speculated that the outer layer is the mixture of fluoride and oxide, while the inner layer is mainly oxide. Sulphur could only be recognized in the EDX spectrum and could not be clearly identified in the element map, which might be due to the small S-content in the cover gas (i.e., 0.5% volume content of SF6 in the cover gas). In this oxide film, aluminium was contained in the outer layer of this oxide film but could not be clearly detected in the inner layer. Moreover, the distribution of Al seems to be uneven. It can be found that, in the right side of the defect, aluminium exists in the film but its concentration can not be identified to be higher than the matrix. However, there is a small area with much higher aluminium concentration in the left side of the defect. Such an uneven distribution of aluminium was also observed in other defects (shown in the following), and it is the result of the formation of some oxide particles in or under the film.

    Fig. 5. (a) A Type B entrainment defect formed in SF6/air and having a multi-layered oxide film, (b) the oxide films of this defect have grown together, (c) SEM-EDS element maps (using Philips JEOL7000) corresponding to the area shown in (b).

    Figs. 4 and 5 show cross sectional observations of the entrainment defects formed in the AZ91 alloy sample cast under a cover gas of SF6/air. It is not sufficient to characterize the entrainment defects only by the figures observed from the two-dimensional section. To have a further understanding, the surface of the entrainment defects (i.e. the oxide film) was further studied by observing the fracture surface of the test bars.

    Fig. 6(a) shows fracture surfaces of an AZ91 alloy tensile test bar produced in SF6/air. Symmetrical dark regions can be seen on both sides of the fracture surfaces. Fig. 6(b) shows boundaries between the dark and bright regions. The bright region consisted of jagged and broken features, while the surface of the dark region was relatively smooth and flat. In addition, the EDS results (Fig. 6c-d and Table 2) show that fluorine, oxygen, sulphur, and nitrogen were only detected in the dark regions, indicating that the dark regions were surface protective films entrained into the melt. Therefore, it could be suggested that the dark regions were an entrainment defect with consideration of their symmetrical nature. Similar defects on fracture surfaces of Al-alloy castings have been previously reported [7]Nitrides were only found in the oxide films on the test-bar fracture surfaces but never detected in the cross-sectional samples shown in Figs. 4 and 5. An underlying reason is that the nitrides contained in these samples may have hydrolysed during the sample polishing process [54].

    Fig. 6. (a) A pair of the fracture surfaces of a AZ91 alloy tensile test bar produced under a cover gas of SF6/air. The dimension of the fracture surface is 5 mm × 6 mm, (b) a section of the boundary between the dark and bright regions shown in (a), (c-d) EDS spectrum of the (c) bright regions and (d) dark regions, (e) schematic of an entrainment defect contained in a test bar.

    Table 2. EDS results (wt.%) corresponding to the regions shown in Fig. 6 (cover gas: SF6/air).

    Empty CellCOMgFAlZnSN
    Dark region in Fig. 6(b)3.481.3279.130.4713.630.570.080.73
    Bright region in Fig. 6(b)3.5884.4811.250.68

    In conjunction with the cross-sectional observation of the defects shown in Figs. 4 and 5, the structure of an entrainment defect contained in a tensile test bar was sketched as shown in Fig. 6(e). The defect contained an entrained gas enclosed by its oxide film, creating a void section inside the test bar. When the tensile force applied on the defect during the fracture process, the crack was initiated at the void section and propagated along the entrainment defect, since cracks would be propagated along the weakest path [55]. Therefore, when the test bar was finally fractured, the oxide films of entrainment defect appeared on both fracture surfaces of the test bar, as shown in Fig. 6(a).

    3.2. Structure and composition of the entrainment defects formed in SF6/CO2

    Similar to the entrainment defect formed in SF6/air, the defects formed under a cover gas of 0.5%SF6/CO2 also had two types of oxide films (i.e., single-layered and multi-layered types). Fig. 7(a) shows an example of the entrainment defects containing a multi-layered oxide film. A magnified observation to the defect (Fig. 7b) shows that the inner layers of the oxide films had grown together, presenting a sandwich-like structure, which was similar to the defects formed in an atmosphere of SF6/air (Fig. 5b). An EDS spectrum (Fig. 7c) revealed that the joint area (inner layer) of this sandwich-like structure mainly contained magnesium oxides. Peaks of fluorine, sulphur, and aluminium were recognized in this EDS spectrum, but their amount was relatively small. In contrast, the outer layers of the oxide films were compact and composed of a mixture of fluorides and oxides (Fig. 7d-e).

    Fig. 7. (a) An example of entrainment defects formed in SF6/CO2 and having a multi-layered oxide film, (b) magnified observation of the defect, showing the inner layer of the oxide films has grown together, (c) EDS spectrum of the point denoted in (b), (d) outer layer of the oxide film, (e) SEM-EDS element maps (using Philips JEOL7000) corresponding to the area shown in (d).

    Fig. 8(a) shows an entrainment defect on the fracture surfaces of an AZ91 alloy tensile test bar, which was produced in an atmosphere of 0.5%SF6/CO2. The corresponding EDS results (Table 3) showed that oxide film contained fluorides and oxides. Sulphur and nitrogen were not detected. Besides, a magnified observation (Fig. 8b) indicated spots on the oxide film surface. The diameter of the spots ranged from hundreds of nanometres to a few micron meters.

    Fig. 8. (a) A pair of the fracture surfaces of a AZ91 alloy tensile test bar, produced in an atmosphere of SF6/CO2. The dimension of the fracture surface is 5 mm × 6 mm, (b) surface appearance of the oxide films on the fracture surfaces, showing spots on the film surface.

    To further reveal the structure and composition of the oxide film clearly, the cross-section of the oxide film on a test-bar fracture surface was onsite exposed using the FIB technique (Fig. 9). As shown in Fig. 9a, a continuous oxide film was found between the platinum coating layer and the Mg-Al alloy substrate. Fig. 9 (b-c) shows a magnified observation to oxide films, indicating a multi-layered structure (denoted by the red box in Fig. 9c). The bottom layer was enriched with fluorine and oxygen and should be the mixture of fluoride and oxide, which was similar to the “outer layer” shown in Figs. 5 and 7, while the only-oxygen-enriched top layer was similar to the “inner layer” shown in Figs. 5 and 7.

    Fig. 9. (a) A cross-sectional observation of the oxide film on the fracture surface of the AZ91 casting produced in SF6/CO2, exposed by FIB, (b) a magnified observation of area highlighted in (a), and (c) SEM-EDS elements map of the area shown in (b), obtained by CFEI Quanta 3D FEG FIB-SEM.

    Except the continuous film, some individual particles were also observed in or below the continuous film, as shown in Fig. 9. An Al-enriched particle was detected in the left side of the oxide film shown in Fig. 9b and might be speculated to be spinel Mg2AlO4 because it also contains abundant magnesium and oxygen elements. The existing of such Mg2AlO4 particles is responsible for the high concentration of aluminium in small areas of the observed film and the uneven distribution of aluminium, as shown in Fig. 5(c). Here it should be emphasized that, although the other part of the bottom layer of the continuous oxide film contains less aluminium than this Al-enriched particle, the Fig. 9c indicated that the amount of aluminium in this bottom layer was still non-negligible, especially when comparing with the outer layer of the film. Below the right side of the oxide film shown in Fig. 9b, a particle was detected and speculated to be MgO because it is rich in Mg and O. According to Wang’s result [56], lots of discrete MgO particles can be formed on the surface of the Mg melt by the oxidation of Mg melt and Mg vapor. The MgO particles observed in our present work may be formed due to the same reasons. While, due to the differences in experimental conditions, less Mg melt can be vapored or react with O2, thus only a few of MgO particles formed in our work. An enrichment of carbon was also found in the film, revealing that CO2 was able to react with the melt, thus forming carbon or carbides. This carbon concentration was consistent with the relatively high carbon content of the oxide film shown in Table 3 (i.e., the dark region). In the area next to the oxide film.

    Table 3. EDS results (wt.%) corresponding to the regions shown in Fig. 8 (cover gas: SF6/ CO2).

    Empty CellCOMgFAlZnSN
    Dark region in Fig. 8(a)7.253.6469.823.827.030.86
    Bright region in Fig. 8(a)2.100.4482.8313.261.36

    This cross-sectional observation of the oxide film on a test bar fracture surface (Fig. 9) further verified the schematic of the entrainment defect shown in Fig. 6(e). The entrainment defects formed in different atmospheres of SF6/CO2 and SF6/air had similar structures, but their compositions were different.

    3.3. Evolution of the oxide films in the oxidation cell

    The results in Section 3.1 and 3.2 have shown the structures and compositions of entrainment defects formed in AZ91 castings under cover gases of SF6/air and SF6/CO2. Different stages of the oxidation reaction may lead to the different structures and compositions of entrainment defects. Although Campbell has conjectured that an entrained gas may react with the surrounding melt, it is rarely reported that the reaction occurring between the Mg-alloy melt and entrapped cover gas. Previous researchers normally focus on the reaction between a Mg-alloy melt and the cover gas in an open environment [38,39,[46][47][48][49][50][51][52], which was different from the situation of a cover gas trapped into the melt. To further understand the formation of the entrainment defect in an AZ91 alloy, the evolution process of oxide films of the entrainment defect was further studied using an oxidation cell.

    Fig. 10 (a and d) shows a surface film held for 5 min in the oxidation cell, protected by 0.5%SF6/air. There was only one single layer consisting of fluoride and oxide (MgF2 and MgO). In this surface film. Sulphur was detected in the EDS spectrum, but its amount was too small to be recognized in the element map. The structure and composition of this oxide film was similar to the single-layered films of entrainment defects shown in Fig. 4.

    Fig. 10. Oxide films formed in the oxidation cell under a cover gas of 0.5%SF6/air and held at 700 °C for (a) 5 min; (b) 10 min; (c) 30 min, and (d-f) the SEM-EDS element maps (using Philips JEOL7000) corresponding to the oxide film shown in (a-c) respectively, (d) 5 min; (e) 10 min; (f) 30 min. The red points in (c and f) are the location references, denoting the boundary of the F-enriched layer in different element maps.

    After a holding time of 10 min, a thin (O, S)-enriched top layer (around 700 nm) appeared upon the preliminary F-enriched film, forming a multi-layered structure, as shown in Fig. 10(b and e). The thickness of the (O, S)-enriched top layer increased with increased holding time. As shown in Fig. 10(c and f), the oxide film held for 30 min also had a multi-layered structure, but the thickness of its (O, S)-enriched top layer (around 2.5 µm) was higher than the that of the 10-min oxide film. The multi-layered oxide films shown in Fig. 10(b-c) presented a similar appearance to the films of the sandwich-like defect shown in Fig. 5.

    The different structures of the oxide films shown in Fig. 10 indicated that fluorides in the cover gas would be preferentially consumed due to the reaction with the AZ91 alloy melt. After the depletion of fluorides, the residual cover gas reacted further with the liquid AZ91 alloy, forming the top (O, S)-enriched layer in the oxide film. Therefore, the different structures and compositions of entrainment defects shown in Figs. 4 and 5 may be due to an ongoing oxidation reaction between melt and entrapped cover gas.

    This multi-layered structure has not been reported in previous publications concerning the protective surface film formed on a Mg-alloy melt [38,[46][47][48][49][50][51]. This may be due to the fact that previous researchers carried out their experiments with an un-limited amount of cover gas, creating a situation where the fluorides in the cover gas were not able to become depleted. Therefore, the oxide film of an entrainment defect had behaviour traits similar to the oxide films shown in Fig. 10, but different from the oxide films formed on the Mg-alloy melt surface reported in [38,[46][47][48][49][50][51].

    Similar with the oxide films held in SF6/air, the oxide films formed in SF6/CO2 also had different structures with different holding times in the oxidation cell. Fig. 11(a) shows an oxide film, held on an AZ91 melt surface under a cover gas of 0.5%SF6/CO2 for 5 min. This film had a single-layered structure consisting of MgF2. The existence of MgO could not be confirmed in this film. After the holding time of 30 min, the film had a multi-layered structure; the inner layer was of a compact and uniform appearance and composed of MgF2, while the outer layer is the mixture of MgF2 and MgO. Sulphur was not detected in this film, which was different from the surface film formed in 0.5%SF6/air. Therefore, fluorides in the cover gas of 0.5%SF6/CO2 were also preferentially consumed at an early stage of the film growth process. Compared with the film formed in SF6/air, the MgO in film formed in SF6/CO2 appeared later and sulphide did not appear within 30 min. It may mean that the formation and evolution of film in SF6/air is faster than SF6/CO2. CO2 may have subsequently reacted with the melt to form MgO, while sulphur-containing compounds accumulated in the cover gas and reacted to form sulphide in very late stage (may after 30 min in oxidation cell).

    Fig. 11. Oxide films formed in the oxidation cell under a cover gas of 0.5%SF6/CO2, and their SEM-EDS element maps (using Philips JEOL7000). They were held at 700 °C for (a) 5 min; (b) 30 min. The red points in (b) are the location references, denoting the boundary between the top and bottom layers in the oxide film.

    4. Discussion

    4.1. Evolution of entrainment defects formed in SF6/air

    HSC software from Outokumpu HSC Chemistry for Windows ( was used to carry out thermodynamic calculations needed to explore the reactions which might occur between the trapped gases and liquid AZ91 alloy. The solutions to the calculations suggest which products are most likely to form in the reaction process between a small amount of cover gas (i.e., the amount within a trapped bubble) and the AZ91-alloy melt.

    In the trials, the pressure was set to 1 atm, and the temperature set to 700 °C. The amount of the cover gas was assumed to be 7 × 10−7 kg, with a volume of approximately 0.57 cm3 (3.14 × 10−8 kmol) for 0.5%SF6/air, and 0.35 cm3 (3.12 × 10−8 kmol) for 0.5%SF6/CO2. The amount of the AZ91 alloy melt in contact with the trapped gas was assumed to be sufficient to complete all reactions. The decomposition products of SF6 were SF5, SF4, SF3, SF2, F2, S(g), S2(g) and F(g) [57][58][59][60].

    Fig. 12 shows the equilibrium diagram of the thermodynamic calculation of the reaction between the AZ91 alloy and 0.5%SF6/air. In the diagram, the reactants and products with less than 10−15 kmol have not been shown, as this was 5 orders of magnitude less than the amount of SF6 present (≈ 1.57 × 10−10 kmol) and therefore would not affect the observed process in a practical way.

    Fig. 12. An equilibrium diagram for the reaction between 7e-7 kg 0.5%SF6/air and a sufficient amount of AZ91 alloy. The X axis is the amount of AZ91 alloy melt having reacted with the entrained gas, and the vertical Y-axis is the amount of the reactants and products.

    This reaction process could be divided into 3 stages.

    Stage 1: The formation of fluorides. the AZ91 melt preferentially reacted with SF6 and its decomposition products, producing MgF2, AlF3, and ZnF2. However, the amount of ZnF2 may have been too small to be detected practically (1.25 × 10−12 kmol of ZnF2 compared with 3 × 10−10 kmol of MgF2), which may be the reason why Zn was not detected in any the oxide films shown in Sections 3.13.3. Meanwhile, sulphur accumulated in the residual gas as SO2.

    Stage 2: The formation of oxides. After the liquid AZ91 alloy had depleted all the available fluorides in the entrapped gas, the amount of AlF3 and ZnF2 quickly reduced due to a reaction with Mg. O2(g) and SO2 reacted with the AZ91 melt, forming MgO, Al2O3, MgAl2O4, ZnO, ZnSO4 and MgSO4. However, the amount of ZnO and ZnSO4 would have been too small to be found practically by EDS (e.g. 9.5 × 10−12 kmol of ZnO,1.38 × 10−14 kmol of ZnSO4, in contrast to 4.68 × 10−10 kmol of MgF2, when the amount of AZ91 on the X-axis is 2.5 × 10−9 kmol). In the experimental cases, the concentration of F in the cover gas is very low, whole the concentration f O is much higher. Therefore, the stage 1 and 2, i.e, the formation of fluoride and oxide may happen simultaneously at the beginning of the reaction, resulting in the formation of a singer-layered mixture of fluoride and oxide, as shown in Figs. 4 and 10(a). While an inner layer consisted of oxides but fluorides could form after the complete depletion of F element in the cover gas.

    Stages 1- 2 theoretically verified the formation process of the multi-layered structure shown in Fig. 10.

    The amount of MgAl2O4 and Al2O3 in the oxide film was of a sufficient amount to be detected, which was consistent with the oxide films shown in Fig. 4. However, the existence of aluminium could not be recognized in the oxide films grown in the oxidation cell, as shown in Fig. 10. This absence of Al may be due to the following reactions between the surface film and AZ91 alloy melt:(1)

    Al2O3 + 3Mg + = 3MgO + 2Al, △G(700 °C) = -119.82 kJ/mol(2)

    Mg + MgAl2O4 = MgO + Al, △G(700 °C) =-106.34 kJ/molwhich could not be simulated by the HSC software since the thermodynamic calculation was carried out under an assumption that the reactants were in full contact with each other. However, in a practical process, the AZ91 melt and the cover gas would not be able to be in contact with each other completely, due to the existence of the protective surface film.

    Stage 3: The formation of Sulphide and nitride. After a holding time of 30 min, the gas-phase fluorides and oxides in the oxidation cell had become depleted, allowing the melt reaction with the residual gas, forming an additional sulphur-enriched layer upon the initial F-enriched or (F, O)-enriched surface film, thus resulting in the observed multi-layered structure shown in Fig. 10 (b and c). Besides, nitrogen reacted with the AZ91 melt until all reactions were completed. The oxide film shown in Fig. 6 may correspond to this reaction stage due to its nitride content. However, the results shows that the nitrides were not detected in the polished samples shown in Figs. 4 and 5, but only found on the test bar fracture surfaces. The nitrides may have hydrolysed during the sample preparation process, as follows [54]:(3)

    Mg3N2 + 6H2O =3Mg(OH)2 + 2NH3↑(4)

    AlN+ 3H2O =Al(OH)3 + NH3

    In addition, Schmidt et al. [61] found that Mg3N2 and AlN could react to form ternary nitrides (Mg3AlnNn+2, n= 1, 2, 3…). HSC software did not contain the database of ternary nitrides, and it could not be added into the calculation. The oxide films in this stage may also contain ternary nitrides.

    4.2. Evolution of entrainment defects formed in SF6/CO2

    Fig. 13 shows the results of the thermodynamic calculation between AZ91 alloy and 0.5%SF6/CO2. This reaction processes can also be divided into three stages.

    Fig. 13. An equilibrium diagram for the reaction between 7e-7 kg 0.5%SF6/CO2 and a sufficient amount of AZ91 alloy. The X axis denotes the amount of Mg alloy melt having reacted with the entrained gas, and the vertical Y-axis denotes the amounts of the reactants and products.

    Stage 1: The formation of fluorides. SF6 and its decomposition products were consumed by the AZ91 melt, forming MgF2, AlF3, and ZnF2. As in the reaction of AZ91 in 0.5%SF6/air, the amount of ZnF2 was too small to be detected practically (1.51 × 10−13 kmol of ZnF2 compared with 2.67 × 10−10 kmol of MgF2). Sulphur accumulated in the residual trapped gas as S2(g) and a portion of the S2(g) reacted with CO2, to form SO2 and CO. The products in this reaction stage were consistent with the film shown in Fig. 11(a), which had a single layer structure that contained fluorides only.

    Stage 2: The formation of oxides. AlF3 and ZnF2 reacted with the Mg in the AZ91 melt, forming MgF2, Al and Zn. The SO2 began to be consumed, producing oxides in the surface film and S2(g) in the cover gas. Meanwhile, the CO2 directly reacted with the AZ91 melt, forming CO, MgO, ZnO, and Al2O3. The oxide films shown in Figs. 9 and 11(b) may correspond to this reaction stage due to their oxygen-enriched layer and multi-layered structure.

    The CO in the cover gas could further react with the AZ91 melt, producing C. This carbon may further react with Mg to form Mg carbides, when the temperature reduced (during solidification period) [62]. This may be the reason for the high carbon content in the oxide film shown in Figs. 89. Liang et al. [39] also reported carbon-detection in an AZ91 alloy surface film protected by SO2/CO2. The produced Al2O3 may be further combined with MgO, forming MgAl2O4 [63]. As discussed in Section 4.1, the alumina and spinel can react with Mg, causing an absence of aluminium in the surface films, as shown in Fig. 11.

    Stage 3: The formation of Sulphide. the AZ91 melt began to consume S2(g) in the residual entrapped gas, forming ZnS and MgS. These reactions did not occur until the last stage of the reaction process, which could be the reason why the S-content in the defect shown Fig. 7(c) was small.

    In summary, thermodynamic calculations indicate that the AZ91 melt will react with the cover gas to form fluorides firstly, then oxides and sulphides in the last. The oxide film in the different reaction stages would have different structures and compositions.

    4.3. Effect of the carrier gases on consumption of the entrained gas and the reproducibility of AZ91 castings

    The evolution processes of entrainment defects, formed in SF6/air and SF6/CO2, have been suggested in Sections 4.1 and 4.2. The theoretical calculations were verified with respect to the corresponding oxide films found in practical samples. The atmosphere within an entrainment defect could be efficiently consumed due to the reaction with liquid Mg-alloy, in a scenario dissimilar to the Al-alloy system (i.e., nitrogen in an entrained air bubble would not efficiently react with Al-alloy melt [64,65], however, nitrogen would be more readily consumed in liquid Mg alloys, commonly referred to as “nitrogen burning” [66]).

    The reaction between the entrained gas and the surrounding liquid Mg-alloy converted the entrained gas into solid compounds (e.g. MgO) within the oxide film, thus reducing the void volume of the entrainment defect and hence probably causing a collapse of the defect (e.g., if an entrained gas of air was depleted by the surrounding liquid Mg-alloy, under an assumption that the melt temperature is 700 °C and the depth of liquid Mg-alloy is 10 cm, the total volume of the final solid products would be 0.044% of the initial volume taken by the entrapped air).

    The relationship between the void volume reduction of entrainment defects and the corresponding casting properties has been widely studied in Al-alloy castings. Nyahumwa and Campbell [16] reported that the Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) process caused the entrainment defects in Al-alloy castings to collapse and their oxide surfaces forced into contact. The fatigue lives of their castings were improved after HIP. Nyahumwa and Campbell [16] also suggested a potential bonding of the double oxide films that were in contact with each other, but there was no direct evidence to support this. This binding phenomenon was further investigated by Aryafar[8], who re-melted two Al-alloy bars with oxide skins in a steel tube and then carried out a tensile strength test on the solidified sample. They found that the oxide skins of the Al-alloy bars strongly bonded with each other and became even stronger with an extension of the melt holding time, indicating a potential “healing” phenomenon due to the consumption of the entrained gas within the double oxide film structure. In addition, Raidszadeh and Griffiths [9,19] successfully reduced the negative effect of entrainment defects on the reproducibility of Al-alloy castings, by extending the melt holding time before solidification, which allowed the entrained gas to have a longer time to react with the surrounding melt.

    With consideration of the previous work mentioned, the consumption of the entrained gas in Mg-alloy castings may diminish the negative effect of entrainment defects in the following two ways.

    (1) Bonding phenomenon of the double oxide films. The sandwich-like structure shown in Fig. 5 and 7 indicated a potential bonding of the double oxide film structure. However, more evidence is required to quantify the increase in strength due to the bonding of the oxide films.

    (2) Void volume reduction of entrainment defects. The positive effect of void-volume reduction on the quality of castings has been widely demonstrated by the HIP process [67]. As the evolution processes discussed in Section 4.14.2, the oxide films of entrainment defects can grow together due to an ongoing reaction between the entrained gas and surrounding AZ91 alloy melt. The volume of the final solid products was significant small compared with the entrained gas (i.e., 0.044% as previously mentioned).

    Therefore, the consumption rate of the entrained gas (i.e., the growth rate of oxide films) may be a critical parameter for improving the quality of AZ91 alloy castings. The oxide film growth rate in the oxidization cell was accordingly further investigated.

    Fig. 14 shows a comparison of the surface film growth rates in different cover gases (i.e., 0.5%SF6/air and 0.5%SF6/CO2). 15 random points on each sample were selected for film thickness measurements. The 95% confidence interval (95%CI) was computed under an assumption that the variation of the film thickness followed a Gaussian distribution. It can be seen that all the surface films formed in 0.5%SF6/air grew faster than those formed in 0.5%SF6/CO2. The different growth rates suggested that the entrained-gas consumption rate of 0.5%SF6/air was higher than that of 0.5%SF6/CO2, which was more beneficial for the consumption of the entrained gas.

    Fig. 14. A comparison of the AZ91 alloy oxide film growth rates in 0.5%SF6/air and 0.5%SF6/CO2

    It should be noted that, in the oxidation cell, the contact area of liquid AZ91 alloy and cover gas (i.e. the size of the crucible) was relatively small with consideration of the large volume of melt and gas. Consequently, the holding time for the oxide film growth within the oxidation cell was comparatively long (i.e., 5–30 min). However, the entrainment defects contained in a real casting are comparatively very small (i.e., a few microns size as shown in Figs. 36, and [7]), and the entrained gas is fully enclosed by the surrounding melt, creating a relatively large contact area. Hence the reaction time for cover gas and the AZ91 alloy melt may be comparatively short. In addition, the solidification time of real Mg-alloy sand castings can be a few minutes (e.g. Guo [68] reported that a Mg-alloy sand casting with 60 mm diameter required 4 min to be solidified). Therefore, it can be expected that an entrained gas trapped during an Mg-alloy melt pouring process will be readily consumed by the surrounding melt, especially for sand castings and large-size castings, where solidification times are long.

    Therefore, the different cover gases (0.5%SF6/air and 0.5%SF6/CO2) associated with different consumption rates of the entrained gases may affect the reproducibility of the final castings. To verify this assumption, the AZ91 castings produced in 0.5%SF6/air and 0.5%SF6/CO2 were machined into test bars for mechanical evaluation. A Weibull analysis was carried out using both linear least square (LLS) method and non-linear least square (non-LLS) method [69].

    Fig. 15(a-b) shows a traditional 2-p linearized Weibull plot of the UTS and elongation of the AZ91 alloy castings, obtained by the LLS method. The estimator used is P= (i-0.5)/N, which was suggested to cause the lowest bias among all the popular estimators [69,70]. The casting produced in SF6/air has an UTS Weibull moduli of 16.9, and an elongation Weibull moduli of 5.0. In contrast, the UTS and elongation Weibull modulus of the casting produced in SF6/CO2 are 7.7 and 2.7 respectively, suggesting that the reproducibility of the casting protected by SF6/CO2 were much lower than that produced in SF6/air.

    Fig. 15. The Weibull modulus of AZ91 castings produced in different atmospheres, estimated by (a-b) the linear least square method, (c-d) the non-linear least square method, where SSR is the sum of residual squares.

    In addition, the author’s previous publication [69] demonstrated a shortcoming of the linearized Weibull plots, which may cause a higher bias and incorrect R2 interruption of the Weibull estimation. A Non-LLS Weibull estimation was therefore carried out, as shown in Fig. 15 (c-d). The UTS Weibull modulus of the SF6/air casting was 20.8, while the casting produced under SF6/CO2 had a lower UTS Weibull modulus of 11.4, showing a clear difference in their reproducibility. In addition, the SF6/air elongation (El%) dataset also had a Weibull modulus (shape = 5.8) higher than the elongation dataset of SF6/CO2 (shape = 3.1). Therefore, both the LLS and Non-LLS estimations suggested that the SF6/air casting has a higher reproducibility than the SF6/CO2 casting. It supports the method that the use of air instead of CO2 contributes to a quicker consumption of the entrained gas, which may reduce the void volume within the defects. Therefore, the use of 0.5%SF6/air instead of 0.5%SF6/CO2 (which increased the consumption rate of the entrained gas) improved the reproducibility of the AZ91 castings.

    However, it should be noted that not all the Mg-alloy foundries followed the casting process used in present work. The Mg-alloy melt in present work was degassed, thus reducing the effect of hydrogen on the consumption of the entrained gas (i.e., hydrogen could diffuse into the entrained gas, potentially suppressing the depletion of the entrained gas [7,71,72]). In contrast, in Mg-alloy foundries, the Mg-alloy melt is not normally degassed, since it was widely believed that there is not a ‘gas problem’ when casting magnesium and hence no significant change in tensile properties [73]. Although studies have shown the negative effect of hydrogen on the mechanical properties of Mg-alloy castings [41,42,73], a degassing process is still not very popular in Mg-alloy foundries.

    Moreover, in present work, the sand mould cavity was flushed with the SF6 cover gas prior to pouring [22]. However, not all the Mg-alloy foundries flushed the mould cavity in this way. For example, the Stone Foundry Ltd (UK) used sulphur powder instead of the cover-gas flushing. The entrained gas within their castings may be SO2/air, rather than the protective gas.

    Therefore, although the results in present work have shown that using air instead of CO2 improved the reproducibility of the final casting, it still requires further investigations to confirm the effect of carrier gases with respect to different industrial Mg-alloy casting processes.

    7. Conclusion

    Entrainment defects formed in an AZ91 alloy were observed. Their oxide films had two types of structure: single-layered and multi-layered. The multi-layered oxide film can grow together forming a sandwich-like structure in the final casting.2.

    Both the experimental results and the theoretical thermodynamic calculations demonstrated that fluorides in the trapped gas were depleted prior to the consumption of sulphur. A three-stage evolution process of the double oxide film defects has been suggested. The oxide films contained different combinations of compounds, depending on the evolution stage. The defects formed in SF6/air had a similar structure to those formed in SF6/CO2, but the compositions of their oxide films were different. The oxide-film formation and evolution process of the entrainment defects were different from that of the Mg-alloy surface films previous reported (i.e., MgO formed prior to MgF2).3.

    The growth rate of the oxide film was demonstrated to be greater under SF6/air than SF6/CO2, contributing to a quicker consumption of the damaging entrapped gas. The reproducibility of an AZ91 alloy casting improved when using SF6/air instead of SF6/CO2.


    The authors acknowledge funding from the EPSRC LiME grant EP/H026177/1, and the help from Dr W.D. Griffiths and Mr. Adrian Carden (University of Birmingham). The casting work was carried out in University of Birmingham.



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    Fig. 1 Multi-physics phenomena in the laser-material interaction zone


    316-L 스테인리스강의 레이저 분말 베드 융합 중 콜드 스패터 형성의 충실도 높은 수치 모델링

    *Corresponding author
    1Technical University of Denmark (DTU), 2800, Kgs, Lyngby, Denmark


    L-PBF(Laser Powder Bed Fusion)는 금속 적층 제조(MAM) 기술로, 기존 제조 공정에 비해 부품 설계 자유도, 조립품 통합, 부품 맞춤화 및 낮은 툴링 비용과 같은 여러 이점을 산업에 제공합니다.

    전기 코일 및 열 관리 장치는 일반적으로 높은 전기 및 열 전도성 특성으로 인해 순수 구리로 제조됩니다. 따라서 순동의 L-PBF가 가능하다면 기하학적으로 최적화된 방열판과 자유형 전자코일을 제작할 수 있습니다.

    그러나 L-PBF로 조밀한 순동 부품을 생산하는 것은 적외선에 대한 낮은 광 흡수율과 높은 열전도율로 인해 어렵습니다. 기존의 L-PBF 시스템에서 조밀한 구리 부품을 생산하려면 적외선 레이저의 출력을 500W 이상으로 높이거나 구리의 광흡수율이 높은 녹색 레이저를 사용해야 합니다.

    적외선 레이저 출력을 높이면 후면 반사로 인해 레이저 시스템의 광학 구성 요소가 손상되고 렌즈의 열 광학 현상으로 인해 공정이 불안정해질 수 있습니다. 이 작업에서 FVM(Finite Volume Method)에 기반한 다중 물리학 중간 규모 수치 모델은 Flow-3D에서 개발되어 용융 풀 역학과 궁극적으로 부품 품질을 제어하는 ​​물리적 현상 상호 작용을 조사합니다.

    녹색 레이저 열원과 적외선 레이저 열원은 기판 위의 순수 구리 분말 베드에 단일 트랙 증착을 생성하기 위해 개별적으로 사용됩니다.

    용융 풀 역학에 대한 레이저 열원의 유사하지 않은 광학 흡수 특성의 영향이 탐구됩니다. 수치 모델을 검증하기 위해 단일 트랙이 구리 분말 베드에 증착되고 시뮬레이션된 용융 풀 모양과 크기가 비교되는 실험이 수행되었습니다.

    녹색 레이저는 광흡수율이 높아 전도 및 키홀 모드 용융이 가능하고 적외선 레이저는 흡수율이 낮아 키홀 모드 용융만 가능하다. 레이저 파장에 대한 용융 모드의 변화는 궁극적으로 기계적, 전기적 및 열적 특성에 영향을 미치는 열 구배 및 냉각 속도에 대한 결과를 가져옵니다.

    Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) is a Metal Additive Manufacturing (MAM) technology which offers several advantages to industries such as part design freedom, consolidation of assemblies, part customization and low tooling cost over conventional manufacturing processes. Electric coils and thermal management devices are generally manufactured from pure copper due to its high electrical and thermal conductivity properties. Therefore, if L-PBF of pure copper is feasible, geometrically optimized heat sinks and free-form electromagnetic coils can be manufactured. However, producing dense pure copper parts by L-PBF is difficult due to low optical absorptivity to infrared radiation and high thermal conductivity. To produce dense copper parts in a conventional L-PBF system either the power of the infrared laser must be increased above 500W, or a green laser should be used for which copper has a high optical absorptivity. Increasing the infrared laser power can damage the optical components of the laser systems due to back reflections and create instabilities in the process due to thermal-optical phenomenon of the lenses. In this work, a multi-physics meso-scale numerical model based on Finite Volume Method (FVM) is developed in Flow-3D to investigate the physical phenomena interaction which governs the melt pool dynamics and ultimately the part quality. A green laser heat source and an infrared laser heat source are used individually to create single track deposition on pure copper powder bed above a substrate. The effect of the dissimilar optical absorptivity property of laser heat sources on the melt pool dynamics is explored. To validate the numerical model, experiments were conducted wherein single tracks are deposited on a copper powder bed and the simulated melt pool shape and size are compared. As the green laser has a high optical absorptivity, a conduction and keyhole mode melting is possible while for the infrared laser only keyhole mode melting is possible due to low absorptivity. The variation in melting modes with respect to the laser wavelength has an outcome on thermal gradient and cooling rates which ultimately affect the mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties.


    Pure Copper, Laser Powder Bed Fusion, Finite Volume Method, multi-physics

    Fig. 1 Multi-physics phenomena in the laser-material interaction zone
    Fig. 1 Multi-physics phenomena in the laser-material interaction zone
    Fig. 2 Framework for single laser track simulation model including powder bed and substrate (a) computational domain with boundaries (b) discretization of the domain with uniform quad mesh.
    Fig. 2 Framework for single laser track simulation model including powder bed and substrate (a) computational domain with boundaries (b) discretization of the domain with uniform quad mesh.
    Fig. 3 2D melt pool contours from the numerical model compared to experiments [16] for (a) VED = 65 J/mm3 at 7 mm from the beginning of the single track (b) VED = 103 J/mm3 at 3 mm from the beginning of the single track (c) VED = 103 J/mm3 at 7 mm from the beginning of the single track. In the 2D contour, the non-melted region is indicated in blue, and the melted region is indicated by red and green when the VED is 65 J/mm3 and 103 J/mm3 respectively.
    Fig. 3 2D melt pool contours from the numerical model compared to experiments [16] for (a) VED = 65 J/mm3 at 7 mm from the beginning of the single track (b) VED = 103 J/mm3 at 3 mm from the beginning of the single track (c) VED = 103 J/mm3 at 7 mm from the beginning of the single track. In the 2D contour, the non-melted region is indicated in blue, and the melted region is indicated by red and green when the VED is 65 J/mm3 and 103 J/mm3 respectively.
    Fig. 4 3D temperature contour plots of during single track L-PBF process at time1.8 µs when (a) VED = 65 J/mm3 (b) VED = 103 J/mm3 along with 2D melt pool contours at 5 mm from the laser initial position. In the 2D contour, the non-melted region is indicated in blue, and the melted region is indicated by red and green when the VED is 65 J/mm3 and 103 J/mm3 respectively.
    Fig. 4 3D temperature contour plots of during single track L-PBF process at time1.8 µs when (a) VED = 65 J/mm3 (b) VED = 103 J/mm3 along with 2D melt pool contours at 5 mm from the laser initial position. In the 2D contour, the non-melted region is indicated in blue, and the melted region is indicated by red and green when the VED is 65 J/mm3 and 103 J/mm3 respectively.


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    Gating System Design Based on Numerical Simulation and Production Experiment Verification of Aluminum Alloy Bracket Fabricated by Semi-solid Rheo-Die Casting Process

    Gating System Design Based on Numerical Simulation and Production Experiment Verification of Aluminum Alloy Bracket Fabricated by Semi-solid Rheo-Die Casting Process

    반고체 레오 다이 캐스팅 공정으로 제작된 알루미늄 합금 브래킷의 수치 시뮬레이션 및 생산 실험 검증을 기반으로 한 게이팅 시스템 설계

    International Journal of Metalcasting volume 16, pages878–893 (2022)Cite this article


    In this study a gating system including sprue, runner and overflows for semi-solid rheocasting of aluminum alloy was designed by means of numerical simulations with a commercial software. The effects of pouring temperature, mold temperature and injection speed on the filling process performance of semi-solid die casting were studied. Based on orthogonal test analysis, the optimal die casting process parameters were selected, which were metal pouring temperature 590 °C, mold temperature 260 °C and injection velocity 0.5 m/s. Semi-solid slurry preparation process of Swirled Enthalpy Equilibration Device (SEED) was used for die casting production experiment. Aluminum alloy semi-solid bracket components were successfully produced with the key die casting process parameters selected, which was consistent with the simulation result. The design of semi-solid gating system was further verified by observing and analyzing the microstructure of different zones of the casting. The characteristic parameters, particle size and shape factor of microstructure of the produced semi-solid casting showed that the semi-solid aluminum alloy components are of good quality.

    이 연구에서 알루미늄 합금의 반고체 레오캐스팅을 위한 스프루, 러너 및 오버플로를 포함하는 게이팅 시스템은 상용 소프트웨어를 사용한 수치 시뮬레이션을 통해 설계되었습니다. 주입 온도, 금형 온도 및 사출 속도가 반고체 다이캐스팅의 충전 공정 성능에 미치는 영향을 연구했습니다. 직교 테스트 분석을 기반으로 금속 주입 온도 590°C, 금형 온도 260°C 및 사출 속도 0.5m/s인 최적의 다이 캐스팅 공정 매개변수가 선택되었습니다. Swirled Enthalpy Equilibration Device(SEED)의 반고체 슬러리 제조 공정을 다이캐스팅 생산 실험에 사용하였다. 알루미늄 합금 반고체 브래킷 구성 요소는 시뮬레이션 결과와 일치하는 주요 다이 캐스팅 공정 매개변수를 선택하여 성공적으로 생산되었습니다. 반고체 게이팅 시스템의 설계는 주조의 다른 영역의 미세 구조를 관찰하고 분석하여 추가로 검증되었습니다. 생산된 반고체 주조물의 특성 매개변수, 입자 크기 및 미세 구조의 형상 계수는 반고체 알루미늄 합금 부품의 품질이 양호함을 보여주었습니다.

    Gating System Design Based on Numerical Simulation and Production Experiment Verification of Aluminum Alloy Bracket Fabricated by Semi-solid Rheo-Die Casting Process
    Gating System Design Based on Numerical Simulation and Production Experiment Verification of Aluminum Alloy Bracket Fabricated by Semi-solid Rheo-Die Casting Process


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    • semi-solid rheo-die casting
    • gating system
    • process parameters
    • numerical simulation
    • microstructure
    Figure 3: 3D temperature contours and 2D melt pool cross-sections where the melt pool is stabilized at x=500 µm from the start of the laser initial location for cases where (a) absorptivity = 0.1, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 1 and laser beam radius = 12 µm, (b) absorptivity = 0.1, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 20 and laser beam radius = 12 µm, (c) absorptivity = 0.1, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 1 and laser beam radius = 18 µm, (d) absorptivity = 0.45, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 1 and laser beam radius = 18 µm, (e) absorptivity = 0.45, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 20 and laser beam radius = 12 µm, (f) absorptivity = 0.45, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 20 and laser beam radius = 18 µm.


    W.E. Alphonso1, M.Bayat1,*, M. Baier 2, S. Carmignato2, J.H. Hattel1
    1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Lyngby, Denmark
    2Department of Management and Engineering – University of Padova, Padova, Italy


    L-PBF(Laser Powder Bed Fusion)는 레이저 열원을 사용하여 선택적으로 통합되는 분말 층으로 복잡한 3D 금속 부품을 만드는 금속 적층 제조(MAM) 기술입니다. 처리 영역은 수십 마이크로미터 정도이므로 L-PBF를 다중 규모 제조 공정으로 만듭니다.

    기체 기공의 형성 및 성장 및 용융되지 않은 분말 영역의 생성은 다중물리 모델에 의해 예측할 수 있습니다. 또한 이러한 모델을 사용하여 용융 풀 모양 및 크기, 온도 분포, 용융 풀 유체 흐름 및 입자 크기 및 형태와 같은 미세 구조 특성을 계산할 수 있습니다.

    이 작업에서는 용융, 응고, 유체 흐름, 표면 장력, 열 모세관, 증발 및 광선 추적을 통한 다중 반사를 포함하는 스테인리스 스틸 316-L에 대한 충실도 다중 물리학 중간 규모 수치 모델이 개발되었습니다. 완전한 실험 설계(DoE) 방법을 사용하는 통계 연구가 수행되었으며, 여기서 불확실한 재료 특성 및 공정 매개변수, 즉 흡수율, 반동 압력(기화) 및 레이저 빔 크기가 용융수지 모양 및 크기에 미치는 영향을 분석했습니다.

    또한 용융 풀 역학에 대한 위에서 언급한 불확실한 입력 매개변수의 중요성을 강조하기 위해 흡수율이 가장 큰 영향을 미치고 레이저 빔 크기가 그 뒤를 잇는 주요 효과 플롯이 생성되었습니다. 용융 풀 크기에 대한 반동 압력의 중요성은 흡수율에 따라 달라지는 용융 풀 부피와 함께 증가합니다.

    모델의 예측 정확도는 유사한 공정 매개변수로 생성된 단일 트랙 실험과 시뮬레이션의 용융 풀 모양 및 크기를 비교하여 검증됩니다.

    더욱이, 열 렌즈 효과는 레이저 빔 크기를 증가시켜 수치 모델에서 고려되었으며 나중에 결과적인 용융 풀 프로파일은 모델의 견고성을 보여주기 위한 실험과 비교되었습니다.

    Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) is a Metal Additive Manufacturing (MAM) technology where a complex 3D metal part is built from powder layers, which are selectively consolidated using a laser heat source. The processing zone is in the order of a few tenths of micrometer, making L-PBF a multi-scale manufacturing process. The formation and growth of gas pores and the creation of un-melted powder zones can be predicted by multiphysics models. Also, with these models, the melt pool shape and size, temperature distribution, melt pool fluid flow and its microstructural features like grain size and morphology can be calculated. In this work, a high fidelity multi-physics meso-scale numerical model is developed for stainless steel 316-L which includes melting, solidification, fluid flow, surface tension, thermo-capillarity, evaporation and multiple reflection with ray-tracing. A statistical study using a full Design of Experiments (DoE) method was conducted, wherein the impact of uncertain material properties and process parameters namely absorptivity, recoil pressure (vaporization) and laser beam size on the melt pool shape and size was analysed. Furthermore, to emphasize on the significance of the above mentioned uncertain input parameters on the melt pool dynamics, a main effects plot was created which showed that absorptivity had the highest impact followed by laser beam size. The significance of recoil pressure on the melt pool size increases with melt pool volume which is dependent on absorptivity. The prediction accuracy of the model is validated by comparing the melt pool shape and size from the simulation with single track experiments that were produced with similar process parameters. Moreover, the effect of thermal lensing was considered in the numerical model by increasing the laser beam size and later on the resultant melt pool profile was compared with experiments to show the robustness of the model.

    Figure 1: a) Computational domain for single track L-PBF which includes a 200 μm thick substrate and 45 μm powder layer thickness b) 3D temperature contour plot after scanning a single track with melt pool contours at two locations along the scanning direction where the green region indicates the melted regions.
    Figure 1: a) Computational domain for single track L-PBF which includes a 200 μm thick substrate and 45 μm powder layer thickness b) 3D temperature contour plot after scanning a single track with melt pool contours at two locations along the scanning direction where the green region indicates the melted regions.
    Figure 2: Main effects plot of uncertain parameters: absorptivity, recoil pressure coefficient and laser beam radius on the melt pool dimensions (width and depth)
    Figure 2: Main effects plot of uncertain parameters: absorptivity, recoil pressure coefficient and laser beam radius on the melt pool dimensions (width and depth)
    Figure 3: 3D temperature contours and 2D melt pool cross-sections where the melt pool is stabilized at x=500 µm from the start of the laser initial location for cases where (a) absorptivity = 0.1, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 1 and laser beam radius = 12 µm, (b) absorptivity = 0.1, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 20 and laser beam radius = 12 µm, (c) absorptivity = 0.1, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 1 and laser beam radius = 18 µm, (d) absorptivity = 0.45, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 1 and laser beam radius = 18 µm, (e) absorptivity = 0.45, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 20 and laser beam radius = 12 µm, (f) absorptivity = 0.45, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 20 and laser beam radius = 18 µm.
    Figure 3: 3D temperature contours and 2D melt pool cross-sections where the melt pool is stabilized at x=500 µm from the start of the laser initial location for cases where (a) absorptivity = 0.1, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 1 and laser beam radius = 12 µm, (b) absorptivity = 0.1, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 20 and laser beam radius = 12 µm, (c) absorptivity = 0.1, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 1 and laser beam radius = 18 µm, (d) absorptivity = 0.45, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 1 and laser beam radius = 18 µm, (e) absorptivity = 0.45, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 20 and laser beam radius = 12 µm, (f) absorptivity = 0.45, Recoil pressure coefficient B = 20 and laser beam radius = 18 µm.
    Figure 4: Validation of Numerical model with Recoil pressure coefficient B= 20, absorptivity = 0.45 and a) laser beam radius = 15 µm b) laser beam radius = 20 µm
    Figure 4: Validation of Numerical model with Recoil pressure coefficient B= 20, absorptivity = 0.45 and a) laser beam radius = 15 µm b) laser beam radius = 20 µm


    In this work, a high-fidelity multi-physics numerical model was developed for L-PBF using the FVM method in Flow-3D. The impact of uncertainty in the input parameters including absorptivity, recoil pressure and laser beam size on the melt pool is addressed using a DoE method. The DoE analysis shows that absorptivity has the highest impact on the melt pool. The recoil pressure and laser beam size only become significant once absorptivity is 0.45. Furthermore, the numerical model is validated by comparing the predicted melt pool shape and size with experiments conducted with similar process parameters wherein a high prediction accuracy is achieved by the model. In addition, the impact of thermal lensing on the melt pool dimensions by increasing the laser beam spot size is considered in the validated numerical model and the resultant melt pool is compared with experiments.


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    Figure 2: Temperature contours and melt pool border lines at different times for the 50 % duty cycle case: (a) - (c) Δtcycle = 400 μs, (d) – (f) Δtcycle = 1000 μs and (g) – (i) Δtcycle = 3000 μs.


    M. Bayat* , V. K. Nadimpalli, J. H. Hattel
    1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Produktionstorvet
    425, Kgs. 2800, Lyngby, Denmark


    L-PBF(Laser Powder Bed Fusion)는 다양한 산업 분야에서 많은 관심을 받았으며, 주로 기존 제조 기술을 사용하여 만들 수 없었던 복잡한 토폴로지 최적화 구성 요소를 구현하는 잘 알려진 능력 덕분입니다. . 펄스 L-PBF(PL-PBF)에서 레이저의 시간적 프로파일은 주기 지속 시간과 듀티 주기 중 하나 또는 둘 다를 수정하여 변조할 수 있습니다. 따라서 레이저의 시간적 프로파일은 향후 적용을 위해 이 프로세스를 더 잘 제어할 수 있는 길을 열어주는 새로운 프로세스 매개변수로 간주될 수 있습니다. 따라서 이 작업에서 우리는 레이저의 시간적 프로파일을 변경하는 것이 PL-PBF 공정에서 용융 풀 조건과 트랙의 최종 모양 및 형상에 어떻게 영향을 미칠 수 있는지 조사하는 것을 목표로 합니다. 이와 관련하여 본 논문에서는 CFD(Computational Fluid Dynamics) 소프트웨어 패키지인 Flow-3D를 기반으로 하는 316-L 스테인리스강 PL-PBF 공정의 다중물리 수치 모델을 개발하고 이 모델을 사용하여 열과 유체를 시뮬레이션합니다. 다양한 펄스 모드에서 공정 과정 중 용융 풀 내부에서 발생하는 유동 조건. 따라서 고정된 레이저 듀티 사이클(50%)이 있는 레이저 주기 지속 시간이 용융 풀의 모양과 크기 및 최종 트랙 형태에 미치는 영향을 연구하기 위해 매개변수 연구가 수행됩니다. 더 긴 주기 기간에서 더 많은 재료가 더 큰 용융 풀 내에서 변위됨에 따라 용융 풀의 후류에 더 눈에 띄는 혹이 형성되며, 동시에 더 심각한 반동 압력을 받습니다. 또한 시뮬레이션에서 50% 듀티 사이클에서 1000μs에서 형성된 보다 대칭적인 용융 풀과 비교하여 400μs 사이클 주기에서 더 긴 용융 풀이 형성된다는 것이 관찰되었습니다. 풀 볼륨은 1000μs의 경우 더 큽니다. 매개변수 연구는 연속 트랙과 파손된 트랙 PL-PBF 사이의 경계를 설명하며, 여기서 연속 트랙은 항상 소량의 용융 재료를 유지함으로써 유지됩니다.

    English Abstract

    Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) has attracted a lot of attention from various industrial sectors and mainly thanks to its well-proven well-known capacity of realizing complex topology-optimized components that have so far been impossible to make using conventional manufacturing techniques. In Pulsed L-PBF (PL-PBF), the laser’s temporal profile can be modulated via modifying either or both the cycle duration and the duty cycle. Thus, the laser’s temporal profile could be considered as a new process parameter that paves the way for a better control of this process for future applications. Therefore, in this work we aim to investigate how changing the laser’s temporal profile can affect the melt pool conditions and the final shape and geometry of a track in the PL-PBF process. In this respect, in this paper a multiphysics numerical model of the PL-PBF process of 316-L stainless steel is developed based on the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software package Flow-3D and the model is used to simulate the heat and fluid flow conditions occurring inside the melt pool during the course of the process at different pulsing modes. Thus, a parametric study is carried out to study the influence of the laser’s cycle duration with a fixed laser duty cycle (50 %) on the shape and size of the melt pool and the final track morphology. It is noticed that at longer cycle periods, more noticeable humps form at the wake of the melt pool as more material is displaced within bigger melt pools, which are at the same time subjected to more significant recoil pressures. It is also observed in the simulations that at 50 % duty cycle, longer melt pools form at 400 μs cycle period compared to the more symmetrical melt pools formed at 1000 μs, primarily because of shorter laser off-times in the former, even though melt pool volume is bigger for the 1000 μs case. The parameteric study illustrates the boundary between a continuous track and a broken track PL-PBF wherein the continuous track is retained by always maintaining a small volume of molten material.

    Figure 1: Front and side views of the computational domain. Note that the region along z and from -100 μm to +50 μm is void.
    Figure 1: Front and side views of the computational domain. Note that the region along z and from -100 μm to +50 μm is void.
    Figure 2: Temperature contours and melt pool border lines at different times for the 50 % duty cycle case: (a) - (c) Δtcycle = 400 μs, (d) – (f) Δtcycle = 1000 μs and (g) – (i) Δtcycle = 3000 μs.
    Figure 2: Temperature contours and melt pool border lines at different times for the 50 % duty cycle case: (a) – (c) Δtcycle = 400 μs, (d) – (f) Δtcycle = 1000 μs and (g) – (i) Δtcycle = 3000 μs.
    Figure 3: Plot of melt pool volume versus time for four cases including continuous wave laser as well as 50 % duty cycle at 400 μs, 1000 μs and 3000 μs.
    Figure 3: Plot of melt pool volume versus time for four cases including continuous wave laser as well as 50 % duty cycle at 400 μs, 1000 μs and 3000 μs.


    In this work a CFD model of the modulated PL-PBF process of stainless steel 316-L is developed in the commercial software package Flow-3D. The model involves physics such as solidification, melting, evaporation, convection, laser-material interaction, capillarity, Marangoni effect and the recoil press