From Labyrinth to Piano Key Weirs – A historical review
Free crest spillways are hydraulically efficient and safe in operation. Since their discharge capacity is directly proportional to the crest length several types have been developed with the purpose to increase the length of the latter. Among these types traditional labyrinth weir spillways have been studied and used for a long time. Their hydraulic performance and the effect of the involved geometrical parameters are well known. Nevertheless, their design still has to be based on experimentally derived and generalized performance curves. The recently introduced Piano Key weirs present clear advantages regarding hydraulic performance and construction costs compared to classical labyrinth weirs. Especially its small footprint makes the PK weir an efficient and cost effective solution for the increase of the flood releasing capacity at existing concrete gravity dams. Until today only preliminary design procedures are available which cannot yet be generalized. The still ongoing research on this complex hydraulic structure is a challenge for many scientists all over the world. Despite of this, several prototypes have been installed successfully over the last years on existing dams which enhance efficiently the flood release capacity.