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Performance Test of Kaplan Turbine

Johannes Bruce Ll. de Guzman1

Abstract: Kaplan turbine is one of the types of axial flow turbine that converts hydro energy to mechanical energy. A prony brake
dynamometer is used to measure power output of the turbine and a v-notch weir is used for flow measurement. Kaplan turbine runs with
good efficiencies in a broad specter of volume flows and pressure head due to great adjustment possibilities which exist when both the
guide vanes and runner vanes are adjusted, hence, it gives the opportunity to find the optimal combination of guide vane and runner vane
angles. The author and his colleagues for this experiment aims to gather data to help assess performance of the Kaplan turbine located the
Mechanical Engineering Hydraulics laboratory, USC-TC Cebu, Philippines. Parameters such as vane setting, speed, head, flow rate, shaft
power, water power and efficiency will be the subject of the experiment and will aid to determine the performance of the Kaplan turbine. It
was found that the water power input increases with vane angle due to larger opening of water passage.
Author keywords: Kaplan turbine, hydroelectric power, Dynamometer, Cavitation, Water Power.

In hydro power plant the potential energy of water is
converted into electricity through the hydro turbine and the
generator. According to Bongio et al. (2016), hydroelectric power
generation has been increasing all around the world since late
XIX century.
Kaplan hydraulic turbines are generally used for low head
hydroelectric power plants (heads typically vary from 5 m to 70
m). The number of blades normally varies from 3 to 7 and the
blade angle is, at its maximum, varies from negative few degrees
to 40 degree measured from the circumferential direction. Owing
to its adjustable blade angle, the Kaplan turbine achieves high
efficiency not only at the design operation condition, but also at
partial loads and overloads. As such, it has wide application in
some appropriate conditions, in particular, at low head range.
However, the pressure fluctuation occurred in the turbine in some
conditions strongly affects the stable operation and the life of the
device. Generally, it is impossible to carry out experiment on the
prototype turbine before the power plant is built. Thus, it is
meaningful that the pressure fluctuation in the prototype turbine
can be predicted during the design stage. Since the pressure
fluctuation is a complex phenomenon of fluid dynamics in the
system, it is not routine to exactly compute the behavior of
pressure fluctuation in the turbine.
(Wu et.al 2011).
In an axial-flow turbine like the Kaplan turbine, the flow is
parallel to the axis of rotation. Unlike the Francis turbine, the
angular momentum of the liquid remains nearly constant and the
tangential component of velocity is reduced across the blade.
Both fixed-blade and pivoting-blade turbines are in use; the latter
type, termed a Kaplan turbine, permits the blade angle to be
adjusted to accommodate changes in head. Axial-flow turbines
can be installed either vertically or horizontally. They are wellsuited for low-head intallations. Adjustment of blade angles on a
Kaplan turbine depends on changes in the water flow and the
need to maintain a constant turbine speed for power generation.
(Potter et al. 2014)
One very prominent problem when dealing with water turbines
is cavitation. Cavitation is harmful to water turbines and may
cause operation delays of several weeks. Lahdelma (2008) cited

wear. Its analysis requires metallurgical examination through

fractography and stress analysis through Finite Element
Method (FEM).
Experimental Methods
The actual experimental set-up is found in Mechanical
Engineering Hydraulics laboratory (Rm. 144). The schematic
diagram of the experimental set-up is shown in Fig. 1.

Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the experimental setup

An axial pump was used to prime the centrifugal pump with
water. The housing of the centrifugal pump has a gas cock and
priming cap which will serve as exhaust of trapped air in the
housing. Valves A, B and D shown in Fig. 6 are governor vales
used to allow/disallow water passage through the connected
machinery such as the centrifugal pump and the Kaplan turbine.
The Kaplan turbine set-up has a mechanism that allows the
operator to vary the guide vane angle for the direction of water
hitting the turbine blades. The Kaplan turbine is coupled to a
Prony brake dynamometer for torque measurement of the rotating
shaft. Power measurement is obtained with the use of the brake
and belt drive connected to the same shaft to determine its angular
speed. To obtain the water discharge rate, the water will then be
allowed to flow to a channel wherein a triangular V-notch is
located downstream as shown in Fig. 2.

Fifth-Year Student in Bachelor of Science in Mechanical

Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of
San Carlos, Cebu City 6000, Philippines.
Email: johannesyap18@gmail.com

cavitation is possible when vapour bubbles are formed in a liquid

at a constant temperature. If pressure decreases below the
saturated vapour pressure of the liquid at the same time, the
bubbles grow. If this phenomenon takes place in a flow, the
vapour bubbles grow intensively in a region of lower pressure.
When the bubbles move to a higher pressure region, they collapse
rapidly. The collapse takes place in a very short time period and
causes high vibration levels. Traditionally, there have been efforts
to detect cavitation using vibration, pressure, acoustic emission or
sound measurements. Furthermore, water turbines like the Kaplan
turbine are prone to corrosion due to hours long exposure of
mineralized water. In addition, a study conducted by Urquiza et
al. (2014) cited that failures of any turbo machinery parts

usually initiate at the zone of high stress concentration that is

in metallurgical discontinuities, or where corrosion is present,
or in zones where the cross-sectional area changes or even in
regions of excessive

V-notch Weir
Figure 2. V-notch Weir at the USC ME hydraulics lab
A rectangular weir is also located upstream where the pelton
turbine discharges. An air balloon suspended on the water level
shown in Fig. 3 is connected to a metering apparatus that
measures the head over the notch.


J. Energy Eng. 2013.139:329-337.

turbine was fully opened to allow water to flow through the guide
vanes and through the blades of the turbine (Fig. 1).
Operation of the Kaplan Turbine

Figure 3. Schematic diagram of the Weir Metering Device

Supplying Water to the turbine
Prior to the priming of the centrifugal pump, in Figure 6,
valve A was fully opened and valve B was fully closed. The axial
pump was turned on and the housing of the impeller of the
centrifugal pump was filled with water. The foot valve under the
centrifugal pump was struck with a long metallic pipe to close it
and permit priming without the water just being flushed out to the
foot valve pipe. It was made sure that the housing has no air
trapped inside it by opening the priming cap, the gas cock and
manually rotating the shaft connected to the pump. Bubble
formation in the outlet of the priming cap is observed while
priming the centrifugal pump. These bubble formation is an
indication that there are still trapped air inside the centrifugal
pump. When bubble formation were no longer observed, the
centrifugal pump was turned on simultaneously together with the
opening of valve B as fast as possible so that the pressure on the
water line wont exceed the critical value indicated on the gauge.
It was also made sure that no one was aligned with the shaft
coupling between the pump and the motor to prevent any accident
in case the coupling fails. The opening of valve B was made
quickly since the pressure on the discharge side of the pump rose
rapidly in a short period of time. Valve D connected before the

The guide vane angle was initially adjusted to the desired

setting, in our case the setting was initially set to 2.7 degrees. The
adjustment was done in a subtle manner for turbine blades are
sensitive to change in direction of water and the speed of the
turbine is expected to vary consequently. Also, the prony brake
was utilized to regulate the speed of the turbine so as not to run it
at run-away speed by leveling the mark connected with the brake
arm. During the use of the brake, the cooling water valve was
opened to allow lubrication to the brake to minimize damage due
to excessive friction. Weights were used for the determination of
the torque by the shaft by putting it on the scale balance so that
the pin point is set midway. The weights used were noted and the
rotational speed was obtained from the gage connected on the belt
drive. The water head over the notch was obtained by reading the
scale located near the notch shown in Fig. 3. The water head, h
was determined by adding the velocity head and the pressure
head. The pressure head was calculated by dividing the water
pressure by the specific weight of water. The velocity head was
calculated by getting the velocity of the water in the pipe and by
dividing the flow rate by the area of the pipe from the diameter of
the pipe. The efficiency of the turbine was then calculated.
The guide vane was adjusted to the next angle indicated in the
vane angle scale. Measurements were determined in the same
manner as from the previous vane angle. The procedure was
repeated until the 29 degrees setting in the scale of the guide vane
setting. The necessary calculations were made and the graphs of
power output

Results and Discussion


J. Energy Eng. 2013.139:329-337.