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Reducing the Impact of Floods by Advanced Simulation Technology

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Published on Tuesday, 09 February 2016

Seasonal or catastrophic flooding can cause severe damage to public infrastructure. Flood waters often carry dangerous cargo, such as trees, rocks or cars, that pose a danger to bridges or flood protection installations.

A new project at the University of Luxembourg aims to develop a new mathematical method to simulate the flow of debris and predict its mechanical impact on buildings and structures. Local authorities for water management will thus be able to assess flooding scenarios on rivers, such as Moselle, Our and Sauer.

Software to anticipate risks

Building on existing research, scientists at the LuXDEM research team are currently developing an algorithm that allows analysing varying flood scenarios while taking into account the interaction of floating bodies. The expected outcome of the project “DebrisFlow: Impact of Debris Flow on Buildings and Structures during Flooding” is a software environment that allows water management authorities and researchers to anticipate the consequences of high water and identify particularly vulnerable spots.



The aim of the project DebrisFlow is to develop a software that allows water management authorities and researchers to assess the transport of floating debris in flood and its destructive power.


“We want to investigate what happens when the debris collide with bridges, buildings or flood protection installations,” explains Prof. Bernhard Peters, project leader and professor of Thermo- and Fluiddynamics at the Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication (FSTC). “The method can determine the mechanical loads the buildings are exposed to during a flood. However, it can also be used to adapt flood control facilities to these conditions from the outset so that they are able to withstand the impact.” According to Peters, the project can provide guidelines for anticipatory planning and help improve counter-measures during floods.

Digital model of the actual landscape

The project team will start its research activities by investigating the rivers separating Luxembourg and Germany. The regional water authorities have already provided them with topographical data, such as surface profiles of the rivers Moselle, Our and Sauer, in order to “feed” the algorithm. “Since you have a digital model of the actual landscape, you can see which way the water will take and where it is most likely that debris will damage the infrastructure,” Prof. Peters adds.

The project was launched at a kick-off meeting on 20 January 2016 and is funded by the Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR) for a period of three years. In addition to Prof. Peters, two PhD students Yu-Chung Liao and Gabriele Pozzetti will conduct the research. The team is supported by the Luxembourgian “Ponts et Chaussées” administration, the water management agencies in Luxembourg (Administration de la gestion de l’eau) and Trier (Struktur- und Genehmigungsdirektion Nord), the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and the Dresden University of Technology represented by Prof. Jürgen Stamm.

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More information at luxdem.uni.lu.

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