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Jacob van Alwon

Data Scientist
PhD Project Title
Experimental an Numerical Modelling of Aerated Flows Over Stepped Spillways


I completed an MEng in Civil Engineering in 2013 from Liverpool John Moore’s University. I also spent 12 months as a Graduate Civil Engineer for United Utilities PLC working mainly on the structural refurbishment of reservoirs, redesign of water treatment works and power generation from water networks.

Research Interests

My main research interests are in free surface modelling and reservoir and coastal engineering. For my PhD project I am investigating air entertainment in flows over stepped spillways and how these flows can be modelled using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Air entertainment is an important factor as it increases the depth of flow and creates regions of low pressure which can damage spillways. Reliable numerical modelling techniques would allow reservoir engineers to identify maximum expected flow depths and areas of spillways at risk damage from low pressures. I have modelled two experimental stepped spillways and have found that certain CFD models can predict velocities, air concentrations, flow depths and pressures extremely accurately. In one of the experimental spillways an unusual pattern of vortices can be observed which change direction at each step which the CFD models are able to accurately predict. Although the project focuses on stepped spillways, the modelling techniques which are being investigated could be applied to other hydraulic infrastructure.

Why I chose the CDT in Fluid Dynamics

I chose the CDT as it allowed me to explore many branches of fluid dynamics that were new to me. This has been extremely interesting and I have learned about a wide range of fluid dynamics applications. Although I have chosen a research project which is closely related to my background, by seeing other fluids research areas during the first year of the CDT I can be confident that I have made the right choice of project for myself. Being part of a cohort has been one of my favourite parts of the CDT so far. Having students from varied backgrounds has allowed everyone to help each other when learning different skills (e.g. programming or laboratory work) and we have been able to offer each other support when problems have been encountered.


John Fox Memorial Award and Faculty of Engineering Partnership Award for Postgraduate Teaching.


Title: Experimental and Numerical Modelling of Aerated Flows over Stepped Spillways.