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Renewable Energy 78 (2015) 1e6

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Technical note

Design and performance evaluation of a pump-as-turbine

micro-hydro test facility with incorporated inlet ow control
D.R. Giosio a, *, A.D. Henderson a, J.M. Walker b, P.A. Brandner b, J.E. Sargison c, P. Gautam d
School of Engineering, The University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, 7001, Australia
National Centre for Maritime Engineering & Hydrodynamics, Australian Maritime College, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, 7248, Australia
JSA Consulting Engineers, Sandy Bay, Tasmania, 7005, Australia
Genesis Energy, Hamilton, Waikato, 3204, New Zealand

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: In the context of micro-hydro power schemes the initial cost of conventional Francis turbine units is
Received 5 February 2014 often prohibitive. As such there is growing interest in pump-as-turbine (PAT) technology offering a more
Accepted 10 December 2014 cost effective, yet still highly efcient, power generating alternative, nding uses in remote area power
Available online
supply and energy recovery systems. However, the implementation of a PAT is highly problematic in
terms of predicting the installed best operating point coupled with poor off-design performance due to
the xed geometry and absence of inlet ow control. In the current work a micro-hydro test facility and
turbine unit is developed utilising a commercially available pump impeller together with a customised
Hydro power
housing for incorporation of inlet ow control. Working initially from established PAT theory, this paper
Remote area power generation presents the design and performance testing of a hydraulic turbine unit suitable for use in rural micro-
Waste energy recovery systems hydro, and energy recovery installations. Maximum efciency of the unit was found to be 79%,
marginally higher than that of the parent pump, while the off-design efciency offered considerable
improvement over previously published data of traditional PAT systems. The design provides a cost
effective power generator in comparison to small scale Francis turbines, while providing a greater
operational range than traditional PAT units.
2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

1. Introduction However, a major drawback of PATs is that the performance away

from best efciency point (BEP) is extremely poor due to the xed
The ability for pumps to operate efciently in reverse as turbines internal geometry and absence of ow regulation. Various authors
was rst established by Thoma [1] in 1931 while mapping the full have provided, with positive results, a number of relatively simple
operating characteristic of a centrifugal pump. In recent decades modications such as impeller tip and hub/shroud rounding in
there has been renewed interest in pump-as-turbine (PAT) tech- order to increase overall PAT performance [2e4]. However, the
nology which has found signicant use in remote area power rapid efciency drop-off at off-design conditions remains an
supply installations, both on- and off-grid, as well as industrial inherent and major limitation of PATs.
application in energy recovery systems where a high pressure This is further compounded by the current lack of accurate and
water source exists that would otherwise require throttling. reliable methods for predicting expected PAT performance (BEP)
In such instances, within the range designated micro-hydro from available pump manufacturer data. In a review of PAT per-
power (<100 kW), the initial capital cost of a conventional Francis formance prediction methods Williams [5] denes a prediction
turbine generating set is often prohibitive, making PAT installations criterion, C, as a means to assess the accuracy of eight prediction
an attractive alternative with signicantly shorter payback periods. models suggested by various authors for predicting the turbine BEP
based on either pump performance data at BEP, or dimensional
pump specic speed, nq NQ0.5/H0.75 where N [rpm], Q [m3/s] and
* Corresponding author. H [m] at rated. Each method was compared to turbine test data of
E-mail addresses: (D.R. Giosio), Alan.Henderson@utas. 35 pumps of various sizes and with nq ranging from 12.7 to 183.3. (A.D. Henderson), (J.M. Walker), P.Brandner@ (P.A. Brandner), (J.E. Sargison), prakash.
The method proposed by Sharma [6] was found to be the most (P. Gautam). accurate, however, 20% of the tested pumps were still outside the
0960-1481/ 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
2 D.R. Giosio et al. / Renewable Energy 78 (2015) 1e6

acceptable range of the prediction criterion. More recently, Ven- water storage, adjustable turbine and generator support frame,
trone et al. [7] presented a detailed method of turbine performance pump-turbine unit, clear acrylic circular section draft tube, and
prediction through the denition of a runner momentum coef- open discharge tank with return channel to underoor storage pit.
cient, jR, which describes the specic momentum work performed Flow may be provided directly from the 22 kW supply pump,
within the runner proper assuming zero incident losses. For the delivering up to 10 m head at 150 L/s, or via a hydraulically isolated
four pumps tested the proposed method gives values within 4% of storage tank for investigation of penstock pressure pulsations
experimental values, although a larger sample size is needed to associated with transient operation, see Figs. 1 and 2.
verify the reliability of the proposed method. Moreover, the
method requires specic knowledge of pump geometric parame- 2.1. Pump as turbine unit design principles
ters, as well as performance curves, and is therefore limited in its
ability as a pump selection tool as these details are often not readily In most site installations of PAT units an induction motor is used
available. in place of a synchronous generator [10]. A directly coupled in-
Consequently, due to the nature and constraints of micro-hydro duction generator removes the need for any belts or gearing,
sites, if the installed BEP is found to differ to some degree from the minimises any lateral force thereby prolonging bearing life, elimi-
predicted operating point the PAT will operate at sub-optimal ef- nates the requirement for a turbine shaft bearing, and is low cost -
ciency for a high proportion of its operational life. particularly compared to synchronous generators of sizes up to
Recent work by Alexander and Giddens [8], and Alexander et al. 30 kW [10]. However this requires that one of the synchronous
[9] has investigated an extensive range of modular, xed geometry speeds, corresponding to the number of poles of the induction
microhydro turbine units. The turbine units described are designed generator, must be chosen as the turbine operating speed [4].
for ease of manufacture and consistantly obtain hydraulic ef- As a rst approximation the method of Sharma [6] was used to
ciencies greater than 70%. Most importantly, perhaps, is the scale- determine the required pump characteristics. In order to allow for
ability of the units, providing micro-hydro developers with units operation at a reduced speed an additional correction was made
whereby the performance at site conditions may be well predicted. based on turbine afnity laws as Q fN and HfN2 such that
However, as with traditional PAT units, the lack of inlet ow control
may somewhat limit the efcient turbine operating range. Nt QpBEP Nt HpBEP
Qt ; Ht (1)
This paper presents the development of a turbine using an off- Np h0:8
pBEP Np h1:2
the-shelf pump impeller together with a customised housing
incorporating inlet ow control. Working initially from established Knowing the available turbine net head and ow rate, Ht and Qt,
PAT theory the design and performance testing of a hydraulic tur- and the required turbine speed, Nt, Eq. (1a) and Eq. (1b) can be used
bine unit suitable for use in rural micro-hydro and energy recovery to select a suitable pump impeller based on readily available
installations is given. The resulting design provides a cost effective manufacturers data. The selected pump impeller was a KSB Ajax I.S.
power generator in comparison to small scale Francis turbines series impeller with turbine runner outlet diameter, D 226 mm.
while providing a greater operational range than traditional pump- No blade geometry modications were performed. The rated values
as-turbine units. In typical micro-hydro power applications, where (BEP) of the pump unit from which the impeller is taken, and the
water storage catchments or industrial operating conditions may predicted and actual turbine performance are given later in Table 1
vary, the improved off-design efciency is highly desirable. (Section 4).

2.2. Incorporation of inlet ow control to the PAT unit

2. Experimental facility design
To provide optimum inlet incidence angle over a range of ow
A micro-hydro experimental facility was developed comprising conditions a guide vane assembly consisting of 13 hydrofoil shaped
a supply pump tted with variable speed drive (VSD), elevated vanes, with individual linkages to a common ring, was tted within

Fig. 1. Pump-turbine unit installed at the University of Tasmania micro-hydro test facility.
D.R. Giosio et al. / Renewable Energy 78 (2015) 1e6 3

Fig. 2. Schematic of the micro-hydro test facility at the University of Tasmania.

a simple square section spiral case (Fig. 3). Position is controlled by

a programmable 5.3 kN SEW electro-mechanical actuator, however, p1  p2 v21  v22
E gz1  z2 J=kg (2)
this could also be achieved by manual operation of a hand wheel r 2
depending on the requirements and budget of the given
installation. where subscripts 1 and 2 refer to measurements at high and low
pressure side, respectively. The hydraulic power available to the
turbine is therefore a product of the test specic energy and the
2.3. Instrumentation mass ow rate calculated as

For determination of test specic energy Druck UNIK 5000 Ph ErQ W (3)
gauge pressure transducers, 0e100 kPa range, were tted to ring
The power transferred to the turbine shaft is given by
manifolds with individually valved tappings located at spiral inlet,
and draft tube outlet. Each unit has a frequency response of 3.5 kHz
Ps 2pn$TW (4)
and was calibrated over the full range with a maximum uncertainty
of 0.06% full scale. Flow rate measurement is achieved using a where the torque, T, is calculated from the measured shaft strain as
Yokogawa US300PM ultrasonic ow meter tted upstream the
turbine inlet with an accuracy of 0.01 m/s over the sonic path.
pG D4s Fc
An optical sensor and 500 hole disc was mounted on the non- T Nm=v (5)
8D 106
drive end of the generator for test speed measurement. For
steady state tests a rolling average was used, updated every pulse. where G is the shear modulus of the solid stainless steel shaft (of
An independent induction pick-up was mounted on the drive end diameter Ds) and Fc is the strain gauge calibration coefcient.
for grid synchronisation and overspeed protection. Shaft torque Turbine performance is presented in terms of three key
measurement was achieved with a full bridge 350 U strain gauge dimensionless parameters: energy coefcient, EnD, ow coefcient,
installed on an exposed section of turbine shaft with data acqui- QnD, and the power coefcient, PnD, dened as
sition via a KMT digital telemetry system. The encoder scanning
rate was 6.94 kHz with a system accuracy of 0.2%. Turbine unit E Q Pm
efciency is therefore stated with an uncertainty of 1.3% based on EnD ; QnD ; PnD 3 5 (6)
n2 D 2 nD3 rn D
the propagation of errors method [11].
The hill chart of turbine efciency contours shown in Fig. 4 is
given in terms of overall efciency, ho, which is dened as the po-
3. Experimental methodology wer transferred to the turbine shaft relative to the available hy-
draulic power.
During steady state performance testing data was recorded at
each operational point with a sample frequency of 100 Hz, acquired Ps 2pn$T
ho (7)
by an NI M Series Multifunction DAQ SCB-68 card. For the con- Ph E$rQ
struction of the turbine efciency hill chart tests were conducted
As such the overall efciency incorporates mechanical ef-
for guide vane opening angles ranging between 20 and 35 ,
ciency, taking into account mechanical losses in shaft seals and
equivalent to a range of between 53% and 92% full stroke. Tests were
bearings; volumetric efciency, taking into account leakage and
conducted at net specic energy values of 34.3 J/kg up to 83.3 J/kg
cooling water ow; and hydraulic efciency, dening the amount of
in 5 J/kg increments to ensure a thorough exploration of the entire
power extracted by the runner from the power available from the
operating range.
water. Owing to the tight internal tolerances of the casing the
In accordance with IEC Standards [12] the net specic energy
volumetric efciency can be approximated to hv z 1, with only
across the machine was calculated as
small losses due to cooling water ow, so that

Table 1 ho hm hv hh zhm hh (8)

Best efciency point values of the selected PAT operating as pump, turbine predicted
& turbine actual.
Mechanical efciency due to losses in bearings, shaft seals, and
wear rings was estimated by running the turbine up to rated speed
Values at BEP nq [e] H [m] Q [m3/s] N [rpm] P [kW] h [%] and connecting to the grid. Guide vanes were then closed and air
Pump as rated 104.3 12.25 0.222 1450 34.0 78.5 injected into the draft tube in order to ll the runner chamber. With
Turbine predicted 92.4 4.38 0.139 750 4.68 78.5 cooling lines open the torque required to maintain constant speed,
Turbine actual 71.9 5.98 0.133 754 6.20 79.0
Tloss, was recorded.
4 D.R. Giosio et al. / Renewable Energy 78 (2015) 1e6

Fig. 3. Square section spiral case incorporating the guide vane mechanism prior to nal assembly.

agreement with the predicted best efciency of a pump impeller

Pt acting as turbine which is generally reported to be within the range
hm (9)
2pnT Tloss of 2% of the best efciency in pump operation [5].
The mechanical efciency as determined by Eq. (9), was Performance of the micro pump-turbine unit in comparison to
assumed constant over the entire operating range, however in the parent pump and predicted turbine values is given in Table 1.
practice this will vary to a relatively small degree. While the maximum efciency shows a slight increase of 0.5% from
that in pumping mode, the net head and output power at rated
were considerably higher than predicted by the method of Sharma.
4. Results Furthermore the ow rate in turbine operation was slightly less
than that expected.
The efciency of the designed micro-hydro pump-turbine unit It is widely accepted that PATs require a higher head and ow at
over the entire operating range is illustrated in the hill chart shown BEP point than in pump mode, with the head ratio generally the
in Fig. 4. Overall efciency contours are given, while guide vane larger of the two. Ventrone et al. [7] suggests that this is due to a
opening angles are represented by the dotted lines running diag- combination of a signicant increase in head coefcient with
onally left to right. The best efciency point was found to be at increasing ow and the simultaneous decrease in mechanical los-
EnD 7.27, QnD 0.925, giving a maximum overall turbine ef- ses relative to power output as well as a residual negative
ciency of 79.0%, measured at turbine shaft. This result is in good tangential velocity at operating condition just greater than design.

Fig. 4. Performance Hill Chart diagram of the micro-hydro turbine unit.

D.R. Giosio et al. / Renewable Energy 78 (2015) 1e6 5

Fig. 5. Turbine efciency (B) and power coefcient (,) at constant specic energies corresponding to tank min. level, BEP and tank max. level.

This is in contrast with the belief that slip, due to a relative rota- ow for an additional 10% efciency reduction at rated EnD. This
tional velocity within the blade passages, is only present in pump compares favourably with previously presented data on PAT per-
mode such that ow should be increased in order to minimise formance by Yang et al. [13], Williams et al. [10], Derakhshan and
incidence losses. However, a degree of slip is also present in turbine Nourbakhsh [14] and Singh [2] that all report signicant reduction
operation, and an increase in incidence loss due to higher ow is in turbine operation efciency due to the inherent lack of inlet ow
balanced in some degree by the mechanical efciency. This control and associated large incidence losses. In the sphere of
decreasing inuence of mechanical losses can be seen in Fig. 6 micro-hydro remote area power installations the ability to operate
whereby the overall efciency approaches the hydraulic efciency efciently at off-design conditions is extremely important as water
at normalised ow Q/QBEP > 1. storage reservoirs are often limited in capacity and catchments are
Of practical interest is the general atness of the efciency map, subject to highly uctuating, often seasonal inows.
particularly around the BEP. This is also shown in Fig. 5, presented
for three cases of constant specic energy corresponding to tank 4.1. Weighted-average-efciency (WAE)
minimum supply level, BEP condition and tank maximum supply
level. The variation in head represents a range of static head be- The weighted average efciency provides developers of micro-
tween approximately 0.85HBEP and 1.2HBEP. The efciency in each hydro installations a means to quantitatively compare generation
case remains considerably high even with signicant decreases in alternatives, taking into consideration the likely percentage of time
ow. Indeed, in all cases a 30% ow reduction is required to see a the unit will be operating under off-design conditions. As dened
10% reduction in overall efciency, and a further 20% decrease in by Eq. (10), the WAE is determined at 1.0Pr, 0.8Pr and 0.6.Pr

Fig. 6. Turbine efciency (B) and power () at constant guide vane opening of 30 . Power and ow rate normalised by values at B.E.P.
6 D.R. Giosio et al. / Renewable Energy 78 (2015) 1e6

acknowledgements to Prakash Gautam and Paul Coull for their

contributions to the turbine design.


D turbine outlet diameter [m]

Ds shaft diameter [m]
E specic energy [J/kg]
Fc strain gauge coefcient [e]
G shear modulus [Pa]
H head [m]
N rotational speed [rpm]
P power [W]
Q ow rate [m3/s]
Fig. 7. Normalised efciency of the new micro-hydro turbine unit (UTAS-MH) and that
g acceleration due to gravity [m/s2]
of an optimised PAT [2] at three load points 1.0Pr, 0.8Pr, and 0.6Pr.
n rotational speed [s1]
nq specic speed, dimensional [rpm]
   p static pressure [Pa]
WAE a1 $ht;1:0 a2 $ht;0:8 a3 $ht;0:6 (10) z elevation [m]
v ow velocity [m/s]
where a1 0.6, a2 0.2, a3 0.2 are weight factors representing h efciency [%]
the expected percentage of operational time at each off-design p mathematical constant [e]
loading. Values given were choosen such that a direct compar- r density [kg/m3]
ision may be made with data presented by Singh [2], although these
may be changed to reect conditions at a given site. Abbreviations
The performance of the designed micro-hydro turbine unit with BEP best efciency point
incorporated inlet ow control is compared to performance results PAT pump-as-turbine
of a similar traditional PAT unit presented by Singh [2]. The tradi-
tional PAT tested by Singh [2] had undergone numerous stages of Subscripts
optimisation including impeller blade tip rounding and tapered h hydraulic
ring inserts, resulting in an increased peak efciency of 83.4%, while m mechanical
the designed micro-hydro turbine runner had not undergone any o overall
modications. Even so, the improved performance at off-design p pump
conditions has essentially made up for a 4.4% disparity in peak ef- r rated
ciency with WAEs of 76.8% and 76.9% for the new micro-hydro s shaft
turbine and the optimised PAT, respectively. This is further illus- t turbine
trated in Fig. 7. v volumetric

5. Conclusions

The development of a 6.2 kW micro-hydro turbine unit and test [1] Thoma D, Kittredge CP. Centrifugal pumps operated under abnormal condi-
facility was presented. The turbine unit was designed to incorpo- tions. Power 1931;73:881e4.
[2] Singh P. Optimization of the internal hydraulics and of system design for
rate a commercially available pump impeller operated in turbine
pumps as turbines with eld implementation and evaluation. Ph.D. thesis.
mode, together with custom spiral casing and guide vane mecha- Germany: University of Karlsruhe; 2005.
nism for inlet ow control. Steady state experimental testing over [3] Singh P, Nestmann F. Internal hydraulic analysis of impeller rounding in
the full operating range indicated a maximum overall efciency of centrifugal pumps as turbines. Exp Therm Fluid Sci 2011;35(No. 1):121e34.
[4] Derakhshan S, Mohmmadi B, Nourbakhsh A. Efciency improvement of cen-
79%, in good agreement with PAT theory. The net head and output trifugal reverse pumps. J Fluids Eng 2009;131(No. 2). Article ID 021103.
power at rated conditions were somewhat higher than predicted by [5] Williams AA. The turbine performance of centrifugal pumps: a comparison of
the method of Sharma [6], while the ow rate at rated was slightly prediction methods. Proc Inst Mech Eng 1994;208:59e66.
[6] Sharma KR. Small hydroelectric projects e use of centrifugal pumps as tur-
less than expected. Importantly, in the context of micro-hydro and bines. Bangalore, India: Kirloskar Electric Co; 1985.
energy recovery systems, while slightly more complex than a [7] Ventrone G, Ardizzon G, Pavesi G. Direct and reverse ow conditions in radial
traditional PAT system the turbine demonstrated near peak ef- ow hydraulic turbomachines. Proc Inst Mech Eng Part A: J Power Energy
ciency operation over a wide range of ow conditions, as indicated [8] Alexander K, Giddens E. Microhydro: cost-effective, modular systems for low
by the weighted-average-efciency. The designed micro-hydro heads. Renew Energy 2008;33(6):1379e91.
turbine unit thereby addresses the main drawbacks of pumps [9] Alexander K, Giddens E, Fuller A. Radial- and mixed-ow turbines for low
head microhydro systems. Renew Energy 2009;34(7):1885e94.
operating in turbine mode, providing a low cost alternative [10] Williams AA, Smith NPA, Bird C, Howard M. Pumps as turbines and induction
generating solution for application in remote area power supply motors as generators for energy recovery in water supply systems. J CIWEM
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[11] Figliola RS, Beasley DE. Theory and design for mechanical measurements. 3rd
ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 2000.
Acknowledgements [12] International Standards. IEC 60193 second edition 1999-11.
[13] Yang SS, Derakhshan S, Kong FY. Theoretical, numerical and experimental
This project was funded through ARC Linkage Grant (LP prediction of pump as turbine performance. Renew Energy 2012;48:507e13.
[14] Derakhshan S, Nourbakhsh A. Experimental study of characteristic curves of
110200244) and industry partner Hydro Tasmania. Turbine design centrifugal pumps working as turbines in different specic speeds. Exp Therm
in collaboration with Pentair Flow Technologies, Tasmania. Special Fluid Sci 2008;32:800e7.