School of Marine Science and Technology

Hydrodynamics Laboratory


The Hydrodynamics Laboratory has two facilities: the Towing Tank and the Wind, Wave and Current Tank. You can use these individually or in combination.


At our Hydrodynamics Laboratory, we have our two tanks, the Flow Cell, and our U-Tube water tunnel. 

You can find out more about each of these in the tabs above.

Download our Hydrodynamics Laboratory brochure (PDF: 1.19MB)

Models and Workshop Capabilities

We have dedicated workshops to provide maximum flexibility in setting up models, jigs and fixtures, and adapting test programmes to suit client needs.

We are able to work with models provided by clients, or can draw on a range of highly skilled external modelmakers to manufacture models to client designs, ready for us to adapt to our test equipment.

Please contact us to discuss the options that are available.


We offer a wide range of instrumentation, which can be adapted to suit individual test scenarios. This includes:

  • a range of load cells
  • 6 axis devices
  • Vectrino 3D Ultrasonic Water Sensors
  • Pitot Tubes
  • Differential Pressure Sensors
  • the Qualisys IR Tracking System, complemented by video and still shot photography as appropriate
  • hot film anemometers for use in both air and water


For further information, contact:
Peter Bowes
Facilities Manager
Telephone +44 (0)191 208 6919


Virtual tour

Our Tanks are housed in the Armstrong Building. Take a virtual tour of these facilities.

Tour our other school facilities

Towing tank

The Towing Tank is used mainly for calm water, wave resistance and seakeeping experiments.

Since its construction in 1951 the Towing Tank at Newcastle has been in almost continuous use. It has been regularly updated to keep abreast of modern trends. This includes the fitting of wave making and electronic recording equipment.


The wavemakers can be used to generate regular waves of up to 0.12 m in height and wave periods in the range of 0.5 to 2 seconds. They are also capable of generating long crested random seas using a variety of wave spectra.

Models are towed using a monorail carriage system that has a maximum speed of 3 m/s in its normal mode. The carriage can be remotely or manually controlled, while the 32 channel data retrieval system is online to a PC.


Recent upgrades include the installation of a state-of-the-art motor control system to enhance very slow speed and high speed testing capabilities.

A recent innovation is a modern telemetry system which will allow data to be sampled without any wired connections between the carriage and shore based equipment.


Tank length 37 m
Width 13.7 m
Water depth 1.25 m
Normal Carriage velocity 3 m/s

Wave capability

Period range 0.5 - 2 Sec
Wave height 0.02 - 0.12m (Period Dependent)

Wind, Wave and Current Tank

The combined Wind, Wave and Current Tank is one of only a handful of such facilities in the world. It was designed for use with any, or all, of the components with equal emphasis.

The Wind, Wave and Current Tank was designed with small scale model testing for renewable energy devices in mind. However, it is also suitable for standard resistance, seakeeping and wind loading experiments.

Testing Capabilities

The Wind, Wave and Current Tank is capable of testing:

  • wind loading on wet and dry structures
  • resistance measurements
  • seakeeping tests
  • combined wind/wave/current interaction
  • flow visualisation experiments


Flume length 11 m
Width 1.8 m
Normal water depth 1 m
Air clearance 1 m
Central measurement section 3 m
Maximum water velocity 1 m/s
Maximum wind velocity 20 m/s

Wave capability

Spectra Pierson-Moskowitz 
Period range 0.8 - 4sec
Wave height 0.02 - 0.2m (period dependent)

Flow Cell

The Flow Cell is designed to simulate the fully developed turbulent boundary layer developing over the hull of high speed ships.

The Flow Cell was constructed in 2005 as part of the AMBIO project to investigate the use of nanotechnology in biofouling resistant coatings.

Ongoing instrumentation and equipment upgrades have kept the facility at the leading edge of research activity.


Microscope slides are covered with the trial coating and then different types of organisms are settled on them. The slides are introduced into the boundary layer and the wall shear stress is measured.

The Flow Cell has been used to measure the adhesion strength of cyprid barnacles in a salt water flow environment by simulating the boundary layers developing on a 140m vessel travelling at speeds up to 40 knots.


Maximum water velocity 13.4 m/s
Maximum wall shear stress 256 Pa
Measurement section 1500 x 292 x 20 mm
Pump power rating 15 kW
Pump capacity 90 litres/s at 10m head
Operating temperature range 28 °C to 3 °C
Medium Fresh and Salt water


Find out about our U-Tube wave tunnel.

The U-Tube water tunnel simulates wave flow about slender bodies and determines their fluid loading in planar oscillatory flow over a Keulegan Carpenter range extending to about 30.

It is also well suited for flow visualisation experiments.

Past projects

Past projects have included the fluid loading and flow visualisation on structural elements of offshore structures, sacrificial anodes and motion damping devices.

It has also been used in testing flow about tetrapods for artificial reefs and Tributyltin (TBT) migration in contaminated sediments.


Working Section 0.6 x 0.6 x 1.5 m
Natural period 3 s
Typical Keulegan Carpenter
4 – 20
(Fluid particle orbit : body scale ratio)
Excitation Variable speed fan
Testing Capabilities
  • Flow visualisation: dye or neutral density particles
  • Force measurement: uni or biaxial load cells.