Cavitation Detection Techniques for Optimizing Hydraulic Turbine Operation and Maintenance

Project ID: 8121
Principal Investigator: John Germann
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Funded Fiscal Years: 2018, 2019 and 2020
Keywords: None

Research Question

Can Reclamation develop effective cavitation detection and monitoring techniques and through this effort develop a cavitation detection system that can be used to accurately identify and predict erosive cavitation thus substantially reducing hydro turbine maintenance costs?

Need and Benefit

Across the hydropower industry cavitation is a costly and complex problem. Although cavitation has been 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 stresses and may reduce the life of the turbine runner.
Benefits to Reclamation and the hydroelectric community for this research are expected to be:
• The optimization of hydropower generation relative to cavitation damage thus reducing operation and maintenance costs and outage time.
• New knowledge on cavitation erosion monitoring: sensors to be used, their location and data acquisition parameters.
• Better knowledge of hydropower unit behaviors; effect of air injection for rough zone operation, optimized operating range.
• Development of accurate and functional permanent cavitation monitoring systems that can be integrated into Reclamation's new generator machine condition monitors. This includes the development of a algorithm(s) that effectively correlates cavitation damage to the cavitation measurements being taken.
• Unit condition assessment, turbine runner residual life prediction and cavitation erosion rate.
• Improved cavitation monitoring and avoidance technologies.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20