Cavitation Detection - Method Development for determining Damaging vs Non-damaging Cavitation

Project ID: 1708
Principal Investigator: Josh Mortensen
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017
Keywords: None

Research Question

Can a distinction be made between damaging and non-damaging cavitation using common measurement techniques such as accelerometers and acoustic emission sensors?
Determining if this distinction can be made is important for cavitation detection in hydropower turbines and other hydraulic equipment. Identifying the level of cavitation (damaging or non-damaging) in hydraulic equipment has proved difficult due to the high level of ambient noise and vibration. Studying cavitation detection in a laboratory setting where outside noise is minimized will allow damaging and non-damaging cavitation signals to be more clearly identified and studied. Study results will be helpful in identifying cavitation trends and signal changes on prototype hydropower turbines and hydraulic equipment. The intent is to provide results that will aid ongoing cavitation detection studies in the field (S&T project 2944) that have already tested for cavitation at JF Carr, Flaming Gorge, and Upper Molina powerplants.

Need and Benefit

Need - Cavitation continues to be a major issue for Reclamation Hydropower plants including significant outage time for cavitation repairs on turbine runners as well as decreased unit performance during operation. Cavitation will continue to be a future challenge as more Reclamation hydropower units are asked to have a greater operational range to compensate for changes in water availability and operations as well as accommodate power supply from new sources tied to the grid.
Benefit - this research will lay a foundation for cavitation detection in different conditions or regimes (non vs damaging cavitation) which is needed before field cavitation detection techniques can be further developed and implemented. Hydropower plant optimization has the potential to greatly improve the operational efficiency of powerplants and reduce maintenance costs which would save millions of dollars in the years to come. Cavitation detection is an essential part of that optimization but cannot be implemented until detection methods are better understood and developed. This cannot happen without basic laboratory studies.
Urgency - Hydropower plant optimization cannot be fully implemented without first understanding cavitation detection. Without the proposed research Reclamation will continue time based maintenance which is often time consuming and expensive. Without the proposed research, operational ranges may be limited as there is no way to determine the true limits of cavitation damage.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Cavitation Detection - Method Development for determining Damaging vs Non-damaging Cavitation (final, PDF, 1.5MB)
By Josh Mortensen
Research Product completed on September 30, 2017

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

Cavitation Detection - Method Development for determining Damaging vs Non-damaging Cavitation (final, PDF, 1.5MB)
By Josh Mortensen
Research Product completed on September 30, 2017

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.


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Last Updated: 4/4/17