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Dept. of Hydromechanics and Modelling of Hydrosystems

Department of Hydromechanics and Modelling of Hydrosystems –

Key Aspects and Aims in Teaching and Research

The Department of Hydromechanics and Modelling of Hydrosystems (LH²) at the Institute for Modelling Hydraulic and Environmental Systems, University of Stuttgart, was founded on 1st October 2000 in connection with the appointment of Professor Rainer Helmig.

One of the department’s primary aims is to provide comprehensive, high-quality and interdisciplinary training, predominantly for students of the study programmes Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering and Simulation Technology as well as of the international master’s programmes WAREM (Water Resources Engineering and Management) and COMMAS (Computational Mechanics of Materials and Structures). In addition, the department aims to attract students from other disciplines, such as Mathematics, Computer Sciences, or Process Engineering. The courses deal with the fundamentals of fluid mechanics, the modelling of hydrosystems and the description of exchange and transport processes in flows. There also are advanced courses concerned with the theory and numerics of flow and transport in porous media. Apart from the lectures, which are held in German as well as, to a large extent, in English, there is a variety of seminars in cooperation with other faculties, for example as part of SCR SimTech.

One important feature of the department’s teaching programme is the up-to-date multimedia lab (MML), set up in 2001 by the University of Stuttgart with the necessary media technology and equipment and subsequently re-equipped with new technology financed from the department’s budget, tuition fees or, more recently, quality assurance funding.

An advanced interdisciplinary international training programme is based on the undergraduate courses mentioned above. LH2 is involved in several doctoral programmes. As well as the International Graduate Program Environment Water (ENWat), established in 2001, these are the graduate schools of the Cluster of Excellence “Simulation Technology” and of the International Research Training Group “Non-Linearities and Upscaling in Porous Media” (NUPUS).

In this context, LH2 also offers advanced courses (block courses) dealing with modelling multiphase flow in porous media, with contributions by renowned scientists from Germany and abroad. The department has an efficient computer network at its disposal and makes use of the University’s high-performance computing centre’s parallel computing facilities.

The department’s research topics cover a wide range from the field of flow in porous media. Intensive fundamental research and applied science are well balanced, both within a highly interdisciplinary, international context. The aim is to ensure a close interaction of research, teaching and advanced training as well as technology transfer to engineering practice. Over recent decades, the classic research methods – theoretical and experimental research – have been extended to include a new mainstay: the numerical simulation of complex coupled physical processes using ever more powerful hardware in combination with steadily developing software concepts. This has added significantly to the quality of research and has opened up promising new opportunities. LH2 considers itself strongly connected to the fields of modelling hydrosystems and hydroinformatics and obtains the necessary experimental support from, for example, the Research Facility for Subsurface Remediation (VEGAS) located at the institute, as well as through co-operations with national and international partners. For young scientists, a variety of challenging and demanding tasks emerge from this broad range of research activities.

Research at the department focuses on developing methods for coupling hydrosystem compartments and complex flow and transport processes as well as on integrating data and hydrosystem models. Special emphasis is laid on the development and practical engineering application of simulation methods and techniques for describing single- and multi-phase, multi-component flow and transport processes in the subsurface, i.e. in porous and fractured-porous media. To this end, the open-source simulator DuMuX, based on the numerics platform DUNE (www.dune-project.org), was developed at the department and is being continuously extended and improved. DuMuX can be described as the workgroup’s research lab, serving not only doctoral candidates but also students preparing their master’s or bachelor’s theses as a powerful basis for their implementations or simulations.

A range of research projects is being carried out, financed by various funding institutions. Among these are the German Research Foundation (DFG) – most recently, for example, in the framework of the International Research Training Group NUPUS and the Cluster of Excellence Simulation Technology –, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the EU, the „Landesstiftung Baden-Württemberg“ and industry.

Research projects deal with the single-phase flow of water or air, the two-phase flow of water and gas or contaminants (NAPL) as well as the isothermal and non-isothermal three-phase flow of water, gas and organic fluids, whereby special attention is paid to multi-component transport processes and phase transitions of components. Current research topics deal with the development of special techniques and discretisation methods for multi-phase flow, upscaling/downscaling and multi-scale investigations, parameter identification, fracture-matrix systems and model coupling.

The application areas of these research topics are, for example, pollutant dispersion in the subsurface, thermally enhanced remediation technologies, CO2 storage in deep geological formations, radioactive waste-disposal problems, methane migration from abandoned mines, gas and water management in fuel cells as well as the transport of therapeutics in blood vessels and tissue in the human body.

With such a range of topics, it is evident that the problems can be solved only in an interdisciplinary fashion and in teamwork. This is reflected not only in numerous co-operations but also by the fact that civil and environmental engineers work hand in hand with mathematicians, physicists, computer scientists and material scientists at the department.