School of Engineering

Hydrodynamics Laboratory


The Hydrodynamics Laboratory comprises of three facilities: the Towing Tank, Wind, Wave, Current Tank and the Flow Cell. You can use these facilities individually or in combination.


Hydrodynamics Laboratory, we have the Towing Tank, the Wind Wave Current Tank and the Flow Cell.

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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
Head of Technical Team and Facilities Manager
Telephone +44 (0)191 208 6919


Enter your postcode or address to find directions

Virtual tour

Our Tanks are housed in the Armstrong Building. Take a virtual tour of these 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 continuous use. It's regularly updated, including 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're 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 as well as the latest wave maker control software.

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 3.7 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)
Towing Tank in the Armstrong building.

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 - 0.12m (period dependent)
Wind, wave and current tank

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. The measuring section has recently been upgraded to allow a range of test plates to be used.

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