23 April, 2007

Kaplan Turbine

The Kaplan turbine is a propeller-type water turbine that has adjustable blades. It was developed in 1913 by the Austrian professor Viktor Kaplan.

The Kaplan turbine was an evolution of the Francis turbine. Its invention allowed efficient power production in low head applications that was not possible with Francis turbines.
Kaplan turbines are now widely used throughout the world in high-flow, low-head power production.


The Kaplan turbine is an inward flow reaction turbine, which means that the working fluid changes pressure as it moves through the turbine and gives up its energy. The design combines radial and axial features.



The above figures shows flow in a Kaplan turbine. In the picture, pressure on runner blades and hub surface is shown using colormapping (red = high, blue = low).
The diameter of the runner of such machines is typically 5 to 8 meters.

The inlet is a scroll-shaped tube that wraps around the turbine's wicket gate. Water is directed tangentially, through the wicket gate, and spirals on to a propeller shaped runner, causing it to spin.

The outlet is a specially shaped draft tube that helps decelerate the water and recover kinetic energy.

The turbine does not need to be at the lowest point of water flow, as long as the draft tube remains full of water. A higher turbine location, however, increases the suction that is imparted on the turbine blades by the draft tube. The resulting pressure drop may lead to cavitation.

Variable geometry of the wicket gate and turbine blades allow efficient operation for a range of flow conditions. Kaplan turbine efficiencies are typically over 90%, but may be lower in very low head applications.

Applications
Kaplan turbines are widely used throughout the world for electrical power production. They cover the lowest head hydro sites and are especially suited for high flow conditions.

Inexpensive micro turbines are manufactured for individual power production with as little as two feet of head.

Large Kaplan turbines are individually designed for each site to operate at the highest possible efficiency, typically over 90%. They are very expensive to design, manufacture and install, but operate for decades.

Variations
The Kaplan turbine is the most widely used of the propeller-type turbines, but several other variations exist:

Propeller turbines have non-adjustable propeller vanes. They are used in low cost, small installations. Commercial products exist for producing several hundred

watts from only a few feet of head.
Bulb or Tubular turbines are designed into the water delivery tube. A large bulb is centered in the water pipe which holds the generator, wicket gate and runner. Tubular turbines are a fully axial design, whereas Kaplan turbines have a radial wicket gate. Pit turbines are bulb turbines with a gear box. This allows for a smaller generator and bulb.
Straflo turbines are axial turbines with the generator outside of the water channel, connected to the periphery of the runner.
S- turbines eliminate the need for a bulb housing by placing the generator outside of the water channel. This is accomplished with a jog in the water channel and a shaft connecting the runner and generator.
Tyson turbines are a fixed propeller turbine designed to be immersed in a fast flowing river, either permanently anchored in the river bed, or attached to a boat or barge.

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