Delft Water Research ClusterDelft Water Research Cluster

Contactgegevens: Stefan Aarninkhof
Stevinweg 1, 2628 CN Delft
Delft University of Technology

The Delft Water Research Cluster of facilities is generally described as world class and vital for education and groundbreaking research. The cluster enables research aimed at fundamental understanding of the behaviour of water systems in a changing world, covering the domains of Water Management and Hydraulic Engineering. Climate change and sustainable development call for new ways to ensure protection against flooding and safeguard sufficient and healthy water. The TU Delft cluster allows to study water systems from laboratory scale to field labs, to grasp the full complexity of real-world water systems based on thorough understanding of the underlying processes. This serves as a basis for the development and validation of numerical models for the design and engineering of human interventions in these systems. The combination of science and engineering, and the broad range of water applications involved make the TU Delft facilities unique and vital for the entire Dutch water sector.

A key element for advanced water related research is to have a centralized location that can host a broad range of research disciplines as well as cross-disciplinary research. The cluster forms this central infrastructure, hosting both laboratory and outdoor facilities. The unique cluster of state-of-the-art facilities covers the two main research domains: Water Management and Hydraulic Engineering. This cluster is indispensable to research the complexities of the interactions between water, structures and its surroundings, covering water quality as well as water quantity aspects. Both research domains follow the process from lab scale to application in the field.

1) Water management focuses on two main research topics: sanitary and environmental engineering and water resources management. There is a wide variety of research instruments available for both lab and fieldlabs with which almost every parameter related to the water cycle can be measured in a controlled, isolated environment (see website). For both topics, the indoor water lab is important for experimental and bench-scaled testing before it can be scaled up to pilot scale in e.g. WaterStreet or Harnaschpolder wastewater treatment plant.

The infrastructure is an integration of laboratories for innovative studies on new physical, chemical and biological processes which deliver new insights and solutions. These can be directly evaluated in the fieldlabs.

Fieldlab WaterStreet is located at the Green Village, a terrain with residents but lenient regulation to be able to examine and implement early stage research and innovations. For the researchers in the field of urban water and climate adaptation it is ideal to valorise lab technology and high-level expertise but also to demonstrate and share research insights. There is another unique fieldlab on campus which is located on the roof of the Faculty of Civil Engineering: the Polderroof. A smart roof that buffers heavy rainfall and provides cooling to the building in times of heat. It is unique because there is an identical reference roof right next it.

2) Hydraulic engineering focuses on the analysis and modelling of water systems, including the design and impact assessment of human interventions. It is vital to not only research in a lab but also in the actual dynamic and complex natural system. The indoor lab is the main facility for Hydraulic Engineering. For an overview of the equipment: see website. Next to the instruments, there is a large inventory of field equipment.

These lab-scale experiments are directly linked to an outdoor fieldlab on campus: Flood Proof Holland. This is a polder environment open to everyone for research and experiments. It has several water basins and dykes in which floods can be simulated and water levels can be regulated according to the research needs. This facility has proven its value in many important research projects.

Related to the research topic of coastal engineering there is one unique outdoor research facility, which is an icon in itself: the Pilot Sand Engine Delfland. By using the power of waves, wind and currents along the coast, nature ensures a continuous feeding of sand to keep the coast in place. It enables researchers and students to conduct many field measurements and collect data for numerical models that grasp the complexity and dynamics of a coastline and generate scientifically proven solutions. To facilitate prolonged use of this unique facility by the Dutch coastal research community, an ambitious project proposal named ICON.NL was submitted to NWO Investeringen groot, which positions the Sand Engine as the Dutch node of an International Coastal Observatory Network (ICON). This will be further addressed in chapter 6.

The Delft Water Research cluster is extensive and amongst the best in the world but most importantly they span across theory and practice: every indoor small-scale experiment can have an outside larger scale equivalent.

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