Hydraulics: Testing & Calibration

Since 1965, the UWRL testing facility has performed thousands of flow meter, valve, and pipe tests. World-class staff perform calibrations for commercial, governmental, nuclear, aerospace, and many other applications. Turnaround time for calibrations is generally 2 weeks with appropriate scheduling.

Erosion control testing services are also available via an indoor drip irrigation rainfall-based erosion test facility. Hydraulics researchers also complete hydro machinery testing, such as pump and turbine testing.

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Flow meter calibrations at the UWRL use National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceable instrumentation and have met stringent nuclear safety testing requirements. The size of the UWRL hydraulics laboratory gives us the capability to simulate actual metering installations to ensure the most accurate calibration possible. When ISO/IEC-17025:2017 testing requirements are necessary, UWRL staff will utilize its ISO/IEC-17025:2017 accreditation for the calibration (see accreditation certificate here: ISO/IEC-17025:2017 PDF).

Flowmeter testing capabilities:

  • Flowmeter sizes from 1/8-inch to 78-inches in diameter
  • All types of municipal, industrial, and residential flow meters
  • Accuracy and head loss characteristics determined
  • Non-ideal piping configurations and varying water temperatures possible
  • Precise measurements using weight tanks and/or calibrated master flow meters
  • Weight tanks that can receive flows up to 22,000 gpm
  • Maximum flow rate through our largest master Venturi flow meter exceeds 100,000 gpm
  • Handling capabilities up to 40,000 lbs
  • CFD can be coupled with laboratory data to predict meter response to piping conditions that are not feasible to test in the laboratory
  • CFD can also be used to direct meter design and installation locations

Gates & Valves

Hundreds of valves of all varieties have been tested at the UWRL in an effort to assist manufacturers and end users. The hydraulics laboratory has also conducted specialized testing of valves going into nuclear service and for aerospace applications.

Valve testing capabilities:

  • Valve sizes ranging from 1/8 inch to 78 inches
  • Flow performance characteristics with valve weights up to 40,000 lbs
  • Cavitation and dynamic torque characteristics
  • Seating, unseating, and sealing performance
  • Nuclear and aerospace applications
  • Valve pressure testing
  • Valve cycle testing using hot and cold water
  • CFD capabilities to test valve performance as well as direct valve design


As a premier pipe test facility, our ability to pass large flows and handle large pipe sets us apart from other laboratories.

Pipe testing capabilities:

  • 500 ft-long channel with large (100,000 gpm) flow capacity
  • Flow tests to establish pressure loss characteristics of smooth wall and profile pressure and non-pressure pipe
  • Burst testing
  • Pipe deformation testing

Pump & Turbine Testing

The UWRL also performs hydro machinery testing, including pump and turbine testing. Please contact our staff to discuss your testing needs.

Erosion Protection

The UWRL provides erosion control testing services via an indoor drip irrigation rainfall-based erosion test facility. The UWRL rain simulation facility was the only one of its kind when it was built in 1974 with support from the Federal Highway Administration. Erosion control testing services began in the 1980s.

Erosion Control Laboratory Testing Services:

Rainfall Capacity:

  • 3.0 to 5.0 inches per hour for a 60-minute test represent typical test conditions.
  • Maximum rainfall capacity exceeds 20 inches/hour.

Test Results:

  • Product effectiveness (C-factor) reported for the two consecutive 30-minute test periods and the full 60 minutes relative to unprotected bare soil
  • Digital video and still photographic overview documentation
  • Turbidity data at 15-minute intervals

Test plots:

  • Three 4-ft wide by 20-ft long adjustable slope soil plots with a maximum slope of 1.5H:1V (56.3 degrees or 62.6% slope)
  • 12-inch deep soil plots feature sandy-loan soil compacted to ~70% standard proctor density.
  • Permeable bottom boundary allows excess water to drain, simulating an infinitely deep soil column. (Systems with impervious or uncontrolled [hard pan] bottom boundaries can create artificially high pore pressures and increase the likelihood of catastrophic landslides)
Bare Soil Test on Rainmaker
Pretest Plot Conditions on Rainmaker
Water running on Rainmaker

Quality Control Summary

Plot Preparation

  • Top 3 inches of soil is removed from each plot after each test to eliminate residual erosion control fibers and/or chemicals
  • Soil is spaded with a shove and mechanically tilled through the full depth to maintain uniform soil properties.
  • With the soil at the proper moisture content level, the plots are rolled with a weighted roller to a compaction of ~70% standard proctor density ±3%. For each test, soil densities are measured at three locations per plot using a nuclear density gauge.

Product Application

  • Hydraulic erosion control products are prepared/applied using a lab-scale (70-gal) hydro-seeded. Based on the specified field application rate (e.g., 3,000 lb/acre), the corresponding amount of product is added to 50 gallons of the water in the hydro-seeder and mixed for approximately 5 minutes.
  • Following mixing, the hose is charged, and the appropriate volume of product is uniformly applied to a single test plot by tracking the change of product volume in the tank.
  • Following application, the tank is drained and the process repeated until product has been applied to all plots.
Erosion Control on Rainmaker
Erosion Test on Rainmaker
Rainfall Erosion Control Test


  • The Rainfall rate is calibrated prior to each test through a water capture/weighing process. Once the desired rainfall rate is reached, the plastic sheet covering the test plots is removed and the test initiated.
  • Turbidity samples are collected every 15 minutes.
  • In some cases, seeds and fertilizer are applied to the soil surface prior to applying the mulch or blanket material. Following the 60-minute test, the test plots are returned to a horizontal position, a light bank place over top and the seeds are allowed to germinate and grow for 7-10 days to quantify the plant establishment efficacy of the test product.
Turbidity Data Collection Jars