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Performance Test on Kaplan Turbine

Michael Adrian Vallecera Ygnacio1

Abstract: The main purpose of the turbine is to function as the prime mover providing direct horsepower to the generator. It is the
most significant system in a hydro unit. What provides the most impact to the efficiency, performance, and reliability of a hydro unit
depends on how the turbine is designed, operated, and maintained. The Kaplan turbine is practically used in a low head and high flow
application. Fixed-blade propeller types have a very narrow range of high efficiency operation, while adjustable blade types can
operate at high efficiency over a wide flow and power output range. In this experiment, the efficiency of the Kaplan Turbine is
obtained from the different Vane Settings of the Kaplan Turbine and at different load.

Author keywords: Turbine, Kaplan, Hydro Power, Shaft Power.

Turbines are defined as the hydraulic machines that convert
The Kaplan turbine was developed by Viktor Kaplan in 1913,
hydraulic energy into mechanical energy. This mechanical
due to a need for efficient power production for lower pressure
energy produced is used in running an electric generator that
heads where the Francis type turbine became inapplicable. In
is directly coupled to the shaft of the turbine. Thus the
the early years of development Kaplan struggled with
mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy.
cavitation problems, and abandoned his work in 1922 due to
Hydraulic turbines are not only used to convert hydraulic
health problems. Voith continued his work and developed the
energy into electricity but also in pumped storage schemes,
design further. Today the Kaplan turbine is used widely
which is the most efficient large-scale technology available
throughout the world.
for the storage of electrical energy. Separate pumps and
turbines or reversible machines, so called pump turbines, are
A Kaplan turbine is basically a propeller with adjustable
used in such schemes.
blades inside a tube. It is an axial-flow turbine, which means
that the flow direction does not change as it crosses the rotor.
Turbines are classified according to the available water head
Typically, at their design points, a Kaplan turbine has a
and quantity of water available. It could be high hea and small
reaction of around 90 percent however at off-design points
quantitiy of flow of water, medium head and medium flow rate
these values will change (Sallaberger,1999)
or with low head but a large flow rate of water. Turbines are
also classified according to the specific speed of the turbine.
In the reaction turbine the kinetic energy is appreciable as the
There are turbines with low specific speed. An example of this
fluid leaves the runner and enters the draft tube. The function
is the pelton wheel. A Francis Turbine is an example of
of the draft tube is to reconvert the kinetic energy to flow
medium specific speed turbine. There is also a high specific
energy by a gradual expansion of the flow cross-section.
speed turbine. The Kaplan turbine is an example of a reaction
Application of the energy equation between the two ends of
turbine. This kind of turbine relies on the kinetic and pressure
the draft tube shows that the action of the tube is to reduce the
energy. By definition a turbine is known as a reaction turbine
pressure at its upstream end to less than atmospheric pressure,
if at the inlet of the turbine, the water possesses kinetic energy
therefore, increasing the effective head across the runner to
as well as pressure energy. The static pressure at inlet is
the difference in elevation between head water and tail water,
greater than outlet of the runner. The cause of rotation of the
which reduce losses.(Bolaji, n.d)
turbine is due to the impulse reaction and also to the reduction
in pressure. In a reaction turbine, only a portion of the fluid
energy is transferred into kinetic energy before the fluid enters For classical vertical Kaplan turbines the inflow and the
the turbine. There can be flow regulation possible with loss. outflow of the stator is radial, while the inflow and the outflow
The unit is kept entirely submerged in water below the of the runner is fully axial. In general, steel scroll cases are
tailrace. And lastly the blades are in action at all the time. used for heads between 30 and 60 m and concrete semispiral
casings for heads between 10 and 40 m. The largest Kaplan
turbines have runner diameters of up to 10 m. The horizontal
bulb turbines are designed with a horizontal axis and have the
Student, Dept. Mechanical Engineering, Univ. of San Carlos, advantage of a more or less straight flow path through the
Cebu City 6000, Philippines, E-mail: intake and draft tube. The friction losses are considerably lower in these components than in the spiral casing and elbow
draft tube of the vertical. Kaplan turbine. In the Straflo turbine
design (Straflo=straight flow) the turbine and the generator
form an integral unit without a driving shaft. The turbine rotor After priming, valve number 9 located near the Kaplan
blades are connected to an outer ring which directly carries the Turbine was opened. This provides lubrication inside the
generator rotor poles. (Sallaberger, 1999)
Kaplan Turbine. Since brake will be applied later in the
Transient regimes in hydropower plants, water supply systems Turbine, the valve number 9 was opened at a point where it is
oil pipelines and pipelines generally, are very dangerous and just enough to lubricate for the entire experiment as this could
harmful when they appear. They are usually followed by the affect the data. Valve number 10 or the inlet valve of the
consequences and evidence that are visible on a hydropower Kaplan Turbine was then opened. Adjust the lever so that the
plant itself. Increase of aggregate power with the simultaneous prony brake will not yet apply brake to the turbine.
aspiration of machine dimensions reducing, makes the
probability for transient regimes to appear greater.(Bojan and
Data Gathering

Experimental Methods The inlet pressure, discharge or outlet pressure and the speed
of the shaft were directly recorded from the dial gages. These
data were gathered in every vane setting and shaft load. The
maximum torque of the shaft was measured by using the prony
brake. The set-up is shown in Fig.2. The weight placed on the
weight pan will pull the lever down thus applying brake on the
rotating shaft.

Fig.1 Schematic Diagram of the Experimental Set-up

The schematic diagram of the experimental set-up is shown in

Fig. 1. Before starting the Kaplan turbine or the pump needed
in the process, all the valves were made sure to be closed and
all other connections were tight-fit and leak-free. The gas cock
and the priming cap located in the centrifugal pump were kept Fig.2 Prony Brake Set-up
open in order for the air to be released during priming. The
(source: Evers C. (2000), Principles of Dynamometer
axial pump is needed to prime the centrifugal pump. Once the
Operation,Minnesota State University-Mankato,23.)
axial pump is turned on, open valve #4 to allow the water into
the centrifugal pump. The flange of the centrifugal pump
located at the bottom of the floor was tapped. This process was In measuring the Flow rate, the V-notch weir was used in the
laboratory. Record the reading on the scale.
done in order to close the foot valve and let the water fill the
pump and not be sucked down. The shaft of the centrifugal
pump was then rotated to remove the trapped air inside the
centrifugal pump. When there were no more air bubbles
coming out of the priming cap, the gas cock, gate valve 1 and
was closed and the priming ends.

After priming the centrifugal pump, valve #4 was closed. Turn

on the centrifugal pump. At the same time, the gate valve
beside it is turned quickly to make sure that the pressure does
not cross the red line. It was turned until the valve was fully
opened. The bypass valve was adjusted to obtain the desired
pressure. When the desired pressure is achieved, the valve
located near the Kaplan Turbine was opened. The axial pump
was then turned off. Valve number 4 was also closed.
Results and Discussion
Figure 4 below shows the efficiency of the Kaplan turbine vs the
vane setting. The efficiency of the the turbine is obtained from
Figure 3 shows the mechanical or the shaft power and the the equations 1 and 2
hydraulic or the water power generated by the Kaplan turbine vs
its vane setting. The shaft power is obtained from the equation: = P m / PH

Pm = 2 T N Equation 1 where Pm Mechanical Power

PH Hydraulic power
Pm Mechanical Power
T Torque At different load, the efficiencies at corresponding vane settings
N Speed are shown in the figure below. From the figure below it shows
The hydraulic or the water power is obtained from the equation that the vane setting at which the Kaplan turbine was most
efficient is when it was set at 29 showing around 92percent
PH = Q H Equation 2 efficiency.

where PH Hydraulic power

specific weight of the water
Q flow rate of water Efficiency VS Vane Setting
H Head 100

For the calculation of the flow rate, the equation 50
recommended by the Bureau of Reclamation in their Water
Measurement Manual,for use with a fully contracted, 90o, v 0 10 20 30 40
notch, sharp crested weir with free flow conditions and 0.2 ft
Vane Setting
< H < 1.25 ft, is:

Load 1kg Load 0.5kg

Q 2.49h 2.48 Equation 3
Where Q - discharge in cfs Figure 4 Effkciency vs Vane Setting at different load
H - the head over the weir in ft.

From the graph below, the mechanical power gradually increases

as the vane setting also increases. While for the hydraulic power Figure 5 belows shows the relationship between speed and
on the other hand, the power increases up to vane setting at 19.5 mechanical or shaft power at different loads applied to the Kaplan
degrees. Maximum hydraulic power was obtained at vane setting Turbine. From the figure below it can be seen that as the speed of
19.5 degrees while maximum mechanical power was attained at the turbine increases, the power also increases. As seen in
vane setting 29 degrees. equation 1, the power generated by the shaft of the turbine is
directly proportional to the speed of the shaft. This relationship
can be seen in the figure below.

Power vs Vane Setting

Power VS Speed
Power (Watts)

4000 1000
3000 500
2000 0
1000 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
0 1 0.5
0 10 20 30 40
Vane Setting Figure 5 Power vs Speed at different loads

Mechanical Power Hydraulic Power

Figure 3 Power vs Vane Setting at 1 kg load

Figure 6 shows a graph between power and speed in rpm. This
graph is a comparison of experimental results of horizontal The following symbols are used in this paper:
kaplan turbine with computational from Bijukchhe, 2012. The g = gravitational acceleration (9.81 m/s2)
experimental value shown in figure below that the increase in power H = Effective pressure head(m)
reaches only a certain point and after it reaches this certain point, the N = Speed of shaft(rev/s)
power decreases again. The point where the power peaks is the
optimum speed at which maximum power can be achieved. For the
P = Shaft power (Watt)
CFD without loss or the graph in blue line shows that the power P =Pressure atmosphere (N/m2)
continues to increase as the speed also increases. The data that was Pv= Vapor pressure of water (N/m2)
gathered in our experiment is very similar to this curve. Q = Flow rate (m3/s)
T = Torque generated by the shaft(Nm)
z = elevation head (m)
= shaft speed (rad/s)
= power specific speed (rad)
= Specific weight of the water(N/m3)
= Pi constant (3.14159)
= Thoma number or Cavitation number

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