Prof. Dr. Mário Franca


Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT)
Institute for Water and Environment
- Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management -
Kaiserstrasse 12
76131 Karlsruhe

Phone: +49 (0)721 - 608-44418
Email: wasserbau∂iwu.kit.edu

Visiting address:

Engesserstrasse 22, Building 10.83
76131 Karlsruhe

The challenges facing water managers and engineers nowadays are manifold, complex, and require cross disciplinary approaches. These challenges include the safety of hydraulic natural and built systems, ageing infrastructures, pollution, guarantee of energy and food security, sustainable development and safety of urban environment, ecological feedbacks and an uncertain future.

Our group develops research towards engineering solutions for the design, the planning and the implementation of sustainable water infrastructures prepared for global change. We investigate the mechanics of flowing water and its interaction with key elements of a river basin such as sediments, dissolved matter, gases, living organisms and people. More specifically, the group is committed to develop research on four main topics: sustainable and secure water for supply, food and energy; adaptive and multi-functional hydraulic systems; healthy rivers; and geophysical processes in rivers and lakes.

Hydroelectric power plant excursion
Hydroelectric power plant excursion

We were lucky with the weather on yesterday's student excursion to 2 small hydroelectric power plants as part of the lecture on hydropower engineering. The "Sägemühle" at the river Enz (2 Francis turbines, 1 hydroelectric screw) was extensively modernized and expanded a few years ago by the owner (Mr. Dieter Heilig). Besides the increase of efficiency resp. output, the focus was on improving the ecological conditions.

Just before the onward journey to the Upper Neckar, heavy rainfall began, but was replaced by glorious sunshine just in time for our arrival. At the Horb-Mühlen plant (1 Kaplan tube turbine, 1 hydroelectric screw), Mr. Frank Bürkle (E-Werk Stengle) answered questions regarding hydraulic and technical aspects, including the implemented horizontal rake (fish protection) and also gave insights into electricity marketing, network operation and control technology.

From source to mouth - need for cross-scale numerical models to address current challenges in river management
From source to mouth - need for cross-scale numerical models to address current challenges in river management

Restoring continuity and connectivity along rivers is essential for river ecosystems and biodiversity.

The speaker will take you on a short journey along a river from its source to its mouth and demonstrate the relevance of various research projects and involved numerical modelling using a number of recent examples.

Link to the seminar PDF file
10th International Symposium on Environmental Hydraulics 2024

The 10th International Symposium on Environmental Hydraulics 2024 was organized by the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, 25 – 26 June.

Mario Franca presented orally the paper “On the turbulence nature of vegetated compound channels”, with Luiz Oliveira as first author, and co-authored by Johannes Janzen, Frederik Folke, Florian Wittmann, Nils P. Huber and Carlo Gualtieri. In this, results from the project “The hydraulics of four moments in the life of a floodplain forest” were presented, a collaboration between IWU-KIT, the University of Naples Federico II, in Naples, Italy, the Institute of Floodplain Ecology from KIT, the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, in Campo Grande, Brazil, and the Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (BAW), Germany. On the day before the conference, Mario Franca and Olivier Eiff from IWU invited to participate in a workshop on Very Large Scale Motions in open-channel flows.

More details here
10th IAHR International Symposium on Hydraulic Structures

From June 17th to June 19th, the 10th IAHR International Symposium on Hydraulic Structures took place in Zürich.

Hydraulic structures are and will be a vital part of the infrastructure for human beings as they provide safe irrigation and water supply, protection against natural hazards, energy generation, and many other highly needed services. Given the current global challenges including water scarcity, abundance in the form of floods, need for clean and affordable energy and environmental issues related to watercourses as biodiversity hotspots, hydraulic structures will remain very relevant in the future.

This was demonstrated by more than 180 Participants from all continents taking part,  Frank Seidel represented the IWU-WB.

Bauwettbewerb 2024
Bauwettbewerb 2024

On June 12th, the traditional Bauwettbewerb (building competition) took place in cooperation with the IWU-WB.

In this year's competition, teams of three to six people had to design and build an inlet and outlet structure for a hydrokinetic turbine. The aim was to achieve the highest possible energy yield. The five groups' designs were examined and evaluated under the critical eyes of the audience. The “Wingman” design was able to prevail. The innovation: In this design, “wings” unfolded as a result of the flow and thus directed more water through the turbine. The winners will visit the turbine in the Iffezheim Rhine power plant at the invitation of EnBW.

When disasters strike repeatedly: A multi-year drought followed by a mega-flood in eastern Belgium
When disasters strike repeatedly: A multi-year drought followed by a mega-flood in eastern Belgium

In July 2021, parts of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were hit by catastrophic flooding caused by the Bernd low-pressure system.

In Belgium, the most affected catchment (the Vesdre River) had experienced repeated summer droughts in the four years (2017-2020) preceding the flood.

This seminar will provide an overview of how a rare hydro-meteorological event combined with unfavourable hydrological conditions in the catchment and a lack of risk awareness and preparedness, which was plausibly exacerbated by the preceding prolonged drought.


The seminar video is online now

Link to the seminar PDF file