As a specialised field, hydraulic engineering is concerned with the hydraulic pressure of fluids, such as oil and water. It also deals with some of the technical challenges facing sewerage design and water infrastructure and studies fluid flow and the behaviour of water in large quantities.
A major area of interest for hydraulic engineers is water storage design and transport facilities, including dams, canals, lakes, channels, and any other facilities used in storing and transporting water.
Engineers design hydraulic-powered machinery and equipment strong enough to withstand intense pressure. They also apply fluid dynamics theory to help in the prediction of water flow and its interaction with the surrounding environment.
This sub-discipline of civil engineering extensively uses gravity to cause fluid movement.
It is also linked to the design of canals, dams, and levees. By applying the principle of fluid mechanics, engineers can handle issues of control, storage, regulation, measurement, transportation, and water use. They also develop conceptual designs to support the features that interact with water through various channels such as spillways.
History and Applications of hydraulic engineering
The earliest application of hydraulic engineering includes crop irrigation, which can be traced back to Africa and the Middle East.
The control of water supply allowed food to be grown even when water was limited. Irrigation has since been used for thousands of years to boost crop production and increase food supply.
The water clock is among the earliest hydraulic machines used at the beginning of 2nd millennium BC. The Turpan water system (ancient China), irrigation canals (Peru), and the Qanat system (ancient Persia) are also perfect examples of the early use of gravity to control the movement of water.
Hydraulic engineering was more advanced in ancient China and engineers applied the concept to construct massive canals with dams and levees to help control the flow of water and use it for irrigation.
The concept of hydraulic engineering is still used today and hasnât changed much since ancient times. The gravity phenomenon is still used to move liquids through canals, but reservoirs are now filled using pumps. Many of the worldâs largest cities would not be able to support their population with a limited amount of local water.
Effective water distribution and management has enabled cities to support their populations through crop irrigation. The building of dams has also enabled cities to generate cheap electricity to power residential, commercial, and industrial establishments. Todayâs hydraulic engineer applies computer-aided design tools, computational fluid dynamics and related technologies to calculate and accurately predict fluid flow characteristics.
Therefore, the concept of hydraulic engineering is not new, as it has been used since ancient times in Africa and the Middle East for crop irrigation to increase food production.
It has also been useful in building dams to control water and generate electricity to power cities. Today, modern hydraulic engineering uses CAD tools and related technologies to predict the flow of water. As technology advances, hydraulic engineers will be able to control and manage water in a way that minimises wastage and promotes efficiency.