Using Strain-Sensing Technology to Increase Safety and Reliability of Inaccessible Critical Connections in Hydropower Equipment

Project ID: 20076
Principal Investigator: John Germann
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Funded Fiscal Years: 2020 and 2021
Keywords: None

Research Question

This research project focuses on developing better techniques and instrumentation to monitor critical bolt connections on a hydroelectric generator turbine which will greatly enhance the safety and reliably of the machine. Once established, the application of this product will be available for use on other critical joints and connections such as the bolted connections of penstock joints or bolts located within the generator which are inaccessible for inspection.

Need and Benefit

This research explores the use of strain indicating washers to monitor and detect failure or changes in tightness of critical head cover bolts located on the turbine of a hydroelectric generator turbine. This technology has the potential to greatly enhance the safety and reliability of the head cover and could be used on other similar critical and/or inaccessible bolted joint connections on generators, turbines and penstocks within Reclamation and the hydroelectric power industry.

A Reclamation goal is to extend its machine condition monitoring capabilities by measuring and analyzing critical areas of concern on its units. This will be accomplished through developing and using improved real time monitoring instrumentation to be used in conjunction with its other machine condition monitoring tools. This research investigates a new tool capable of improved prediction of critical bolt health by using new monitoring sensors and newly developed on-board load sensing technology with the final goal being to be able to predict bolt health prior to ultimate failure. This will help alleviate scheduled and unscheduled maintenance due to broken bolts and reduce the risk of catastrophic failure of these critical components.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20