Piano Key Weir Characteristics
The Piano Key Weir is a particular model of the labyrinth discharge spillway. It is composed of an alternation of reclined surfaces, one is the direction of the flow, the other in the opposite direction. Each of these slopes is separated by a vertical wall that follows the geometry of the shape. Seen from above, it is a series of rectangles cut in equally sized sections widthwise. For each of these sections one of the side perpendicular to the stream is pushed down, creating a slope on which the water can either flow or accumulate, depending on which side the section is lowered. This structure tops a smaller wall.
The Piano Key Weir is generally used at the outbound of a dam, the idea being to dispose of a construction that is solid enough to resist the pressure created by a high quantity of water contained in a dam or a river during flood season, that can evacuate the overflow of water, and that is simple enough not to be too expensive.
Usage of the Piano Key Weir
The Piano Key Weir is a free flow discharge spillway. Its geometry allows for a significantly higher evacuation capacity. The studies conducted on this type of spillway have two aims: build solid and cheap discharge spillways, as well as reinforce the older structures. This enables engineers to avoid accidents of dams that break or that don’t have the capacity to discharge water correctly and in a controlled manner when there is a flood. Usually the weir is placed after the dam and before the cities so as to allow a controlled discharge of water.
This type of discharge spillway presents several crucial advantages. First it is easy to install on structures that are already there, as opposed to classic labyrinth discharge spillways. Moreover, its shape that alternates between ascending and descending slopes allows the formation of two different flows depending on whether the water arrives on one or the other slope. When the water flows over the descending slope it forms a jet that goes towards the bottom of the dam, and when it is first contained by an ascending slope it forms a kind of film which then flows towards the jet below. This division of flow slows the stream down consequently in a much more efficient way than classic dams do.
In order to observe the effects of the Piano Key Weir we used
FLOW-3D® to make a simulation displaying the weir in a stream. The model setup is the most basic one, given that it has been proved that it enabled the results to be as close to reality as possible. The simulation shows the characteristic flow of the water over the “keys” of the piano as well as the decrease of the flow rate after the weir.
We can see that the error percentage between experimental results and the simulation using FLOW-3D is only between 2% and 4% on average. The only determining factor is the mesh resolution when it comes to the accuracy of the simulation, but it only changes the error of 3% or 4% maximum, which means that overall the simulation doesn’t go above an error of 6%.