Optimizing Hydraulic Turbine Operation and Maintenance Through Reducing Cavitation

Project ID: 21104
Principal Investigator: John Germann
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Funded Fiscal Years: 2021 and 2022
Keywords: None

Research Question

This research proposal seeks funding for the continued development and testing of better cavitation detection and monitoring techniques, better inspection and quantification of erosive cavitation damage, improved sensor selection and placement location and signal interpretation for use in the detection and characterization of cavitation and different cavitation types in hydraulic turbines. These research findings will be integrated into Reclamation's machine condition monitoring system for a continuous and cumulative monitoring of cavitation damage with the goal to create effective cavitation algorithms that can accurately predict the amount of cavitation damage that is occurring in a hydraulic machine.

The proposed research seeks to expands and improve on the successful techniques and products achieved in past cavitation research. This proposal requests funds to continue cavitation studies on collaborative research being conducted with G.E. Renewable Energy on Unit G24 at Grand Coulee Third powerplant, as well as starting a new research effort at a Reclamation facility and continuing on-going support of past established field research. Improved cavitation technology will result in better monitoring and predictive tools which will translate to improved operations and maintenance practices and higher water and power reliability, efficiency and output.

Need and Benefit

Across the hydropower industry cavitation is a costly and complex problem. Although cavitation has been heavily studied, there is still a limited understanding of this complex phenomenon. When hydropower turbines operate at off-design conditions, the resulting dynamic and hydraulic phenomena produce undesired effects such as turbine runner cavitation-erosion, excessive vibrations, and unit fatigue. Many times, the repairs needed to correct the problem induce additional stresses, change turbine blade design contours and reduce the life of the turbine runner, further enhancing he problem. The root-cause of the cavitation or techniques that could be used to mitigate it are never addressed. The objective of this research is to further study and improve on suitable techniques to detect and map turbine cavitation erosion and its intensity with the goal to quantify this damage so that operational ranges where cavitation occurs can be avoided.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20