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 Building with Nature Guideline > Projects > Re-use of dredged sediment - Mud Motor in Port of Harlingen, Koehoal, NL

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Re-use of dredged sediment - Mud Motor in Port of Harlingen, Koehoal, NL

TitleMud Motor Port of Harlingen, (Koehoal)

Location: Port of Harlingen, Wadden Sea (NL)

Date: 2016-2018

Involved parties: Van Oord, Royal Haskoning DHV, Arcadis, It Fryske Gea, Wageningen University, Deltares

Technology Readiness Level:7 (system prototype demonstration in operational environment)

Environments: Estuaries, Ports & Cities

Keywords: salt mash, dredge, flow chart, mud, intertidal areas, port


Building with Nature designTraditional design

The Mud Motor is built by disposing the dredged mud at a specific location from where the mud is transported by natural processes, such as tidal flow, to nearby salt marshes. The mud is used as a natural building material for the salt marsh. This strategy reduces the recirculation of dredged sediment and it stimulates the growth of salt marshes.

Traditional approaches to reduce the maintenance dredging involve disposal of dredged sediment at a location far enough offshore to limit the recirculation of dredged sediment. Other options are to dispose the dredged sediment onshore or to sell it.

Traditional approaches to stimulate the development of salt marshes commonly involve structures to protect the salt marshes against waves and high tidal flows. The structures provide calm water in salt marshes and mud flats, which enables settling of the mud and growth of vegetation.  




The project Salt Marsh Development with a Mud Motor looks at the potential for furthering the development of salt marshes in the Wadden Sea by making optimal use of the sediment transportation capacity of ambient flows.

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Initiation phase

Accumulation of sediment is common in ports such as the Port of Harlingen. Dredging is required to maintain sufficient water depth for the ships. The dredged sediment is disposed offshore, as close to the port as possible to limit the costs. At the same time, a considerable part of the disposed sediment may return to the port under influence of tidal flow, which increases the maintenance dredging volumes. The goal of the Mud Motor is to re-use the dredged sediment in a beneficial way by stimulation of salt marsh development. 

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Planning and design phase

A dredging strategy in the form of a flow chart was adopted and improved for the port of Harlingen. Furthermore, model computations have been made to check feasibility / efficiency of the proposed mud motor and to gain insight in the behaviour of mud disposed during flood. Also, a pilot experiment was set up in order to determine the effectiveness of using dredge material for salt marsh development.

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Construction phase

The construction phase started on 1 September 2016 by disposing dredged sediment from the harbour basins of the Port of Harlingen to the new disposal location.

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Operation and maintenance phase

Measurements show that the transport rate through the tidal gully is increased by a factor 1.6 - 2 due to the Mud Motor. 

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Lesson Learned

The project is still ungoing, but some preliminary lessons-learned are found.

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