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Facilities

PNNL operates four research facilities that support sustainable hydropower research: the Aquatics Research Laboratory (ARL), the Mobile Aquatic Barotrauma Laboratory (MABL), the Bio-Acoustics and Flow Laboratory (BFL), and the Applied Process Engineering Laboratory (APEL). In addition, the ARL and MABL house a myriad of tool, including the Turbulence and Shear Tanks. These facilities support a variety of research questions regarding fish behavior, next generation turbine design, fish tag development, and more.

Aquatic Research Laboratory

Aquatic Research Laboratory

At our Aquatics Research Laboratory (ARL), researchers can answer questions that are difficult to resolve in the field. For example, fish tags developed at our Bio-Acoustics and Flow Laboratory come to ARL for implantation procedure testing before they are deployed in our field work.

Our specialized research equipment can be installed and operated to meet specific research needs including, toxicity testing, fish behavior studies, thermal stressors, tagging and tag life studies, bioenergetics, fish physiology, modeling of biological systems, and more. Many species of cold- and warm-water fishes and invertebrates have been successfully reared and cultured for research projects. The ARL routinely acquires eggs and juvenile salmonids from various hatcheries and has the capacity to rear up to 60,000 fish for year-round studies. Temperature and lighting controls simulate seasonal and diurnal cycles, and water from the Columbia River and groundwater wells is delivered to the lab and conditioned to meet specific research needs. The ARL also houses both indoor and outdoor facilities used for holding and acclimating test fish.

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Bio-Acoustics and Flow Laboratory

Aquatic Research Laboratory

The Bio-Acoustics and Flow Laboratory (BFL) is a multi-disciplinary research and development laboratory used to address a broad range of engineering and ecological issues. Here, our team of chemists, engineers, materials scientists, mathematicians and fish biologists work together on challenges related to environmental monitoring and risk assessment for hydropower energy systems.

BFL is accredited by The American Association for Laboratory Accreditation which permits us to not only perform primary certified testing on instruments made by others, but also permits us to perform certified testing on instruments that we build ourselves like JSATS and Sensor Fish.

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Mobile Aquatic Barotrauma Laboratory

Mobile Aquatic Barotrauma Laboratory

A fish traveling through a dam can experience an enormous drop in pressure and just as quickly a return to normal pressure. Those sudden changes can result in internal injuries or even death and are classified as barotrauma. Our Mobile Aquatic Barotrauma Laboratory (MABL) is used to simulate those pressure changes with 4 hyper/hypobaric chambers. Each chamber is equipped with high speed and standard video cameras connected to a digital video recorder. Images can be used to view expulsion of gas, tags or transmitters, and behavior during rapid pressure changes. The MABL resides in a 32-ft trailer that can be transported to field sites and is powered by standard electrical power or a generator. The MABL can be coupled with a water treatment trailer equipped with a sand filter, UV sterilizer, chiller, gas injection system, and holding tanks.

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Shear Tank

Shear Tank

Shear forces can occur when two masses of water moving at different velocities intersect, or when water slows near a solid structure, such as a turbine blade. While these forces occur naturally in riverine systems, elevated levels of shear stress can occur in many locations within a hydro structure and can lead to fish injuries or death.

Our shear tank is a rectangular fiberglass flume (9 m long, 1.2 m wide, and 1.2 m deep) containing a centrifugal pump with a programmable electronic speed controller that can produce submerged jet velocities of water in excess of 20 m/s. We introduce fish to this fast-moving water to examine the effects of shear stresses on individual fish. High speed video recorders are used during testing to allow us to analyze the acceleration and behavior of the fish in this environment.

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Turbulence Tank

Turbulence Tank

Hydroelectric power stations generate high levels of turbulence through the turbine passage section from the gate wells in the intake to the draft tube. These characteristic unsteady flow conditions represent a potentially significant hydraulic stressor to fish passing through the turbine system. Our turbulence tank facility generates highly turbulent flow conditions within a test enclosure, and allows us to study how fish respond to this stressor.

Water in the turbulence tank is agitated using two arrays of randomly actuated synthetic jets, each with 25 independent submersible pumps in a 5x5 grid. These are arrays face towards each other to minimize fish impingement within the test enclosure, and provide the turbulent stressor in isolation. Researchers introduce fish to the turbulent flow conditions and monitor their biological responses for a range of exposure periods.

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Applied Process Engineering Laboratory

Applied Process Engineering Laboratory (APEL)

Our staff have access to the Applied Process Engineering Laboratory (APEL)—a 90,000 ft2 facility with high bay, laboratory, and office space. The material sciences work conducted here is informing the next generation of hydropower components design and repair.

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