The Constructor

Kaplan Turbine – its Components, Working and Application

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Kaplan Turbine works on the principle of axial flow reaction. In axial flow turbines, the water flows through the runner along the direction parallel to the axis of rotation of the runner. The water at the inlet of the turbine possesses both kinetic energy as well as pressure energy for effective rotation the blades in a hydro-power station.

Fig 1: Kaplan Turbine.

In 1913, an Austrian professor Viktor Kaplan who developed this turbine combined automatically adjusted propeller blades with automatically adjusted wicket gates to achieve efficiency over a wide range of flow and water level. It is also called as propeller turbine and evolved from the Francis Turbine. It is capable of working at low head and high flow rates very efficiently which is impossible with Francis turbine. The working procedure, main components and its application is discussed in this article.

Main Components of Kaplan Turbine

The main parts of Kaplan Turbine are,

1. Scroll Casing

It is a spiral type of casing that has decreasing cross section area. The water from the penstocks enters the scroll casing and then moves to the guide vanes where the water turns through 90° and flows axially through the runner. It protects the runner, runner blades guide vanes and other internal parts of the turbine from an external damage.

Fig 2: Main components of kaplan turbine.

2. Guide Vane Mechanism

It is the only controlling part of the whole turbine, which opens and closes depending upon the demand of power requirement. In case of more power output requirements, it opens wider to allow more water to hit the blades of the rotor and when low power output requires it closes itself to cease the flow of water. If guide vanes is absent than the turbine can not work efficiently and its efficiency decreases.

3. Draft Tube

The pressure at the exit of the runner of Reaction Turbine is generally less than atmospheric pressure. The water at exit cannot be directly discharged to the tail race. A tube or pipe of gradually increasing area is used for discharging water from the exit of turbine to the tail race. This tube of increasing area is called Draft Tube. One end of the tube is connected to the outlet of runner while the other end is sub-merged below the level of water in the tail-race.

4. Runner Blades

The heart of the component in kaplan turbine are its runner blades, as it the rotating part which helps in production of electricity.Its shaft is connected to the shaft of the generator. The runner of the this turbine has a large boss on which its blades are attached and the the blades of the  runner is adjustable to an optimum angle of attack for maximum power output. The blades of the Kaplan turbine has twist along its length.

Fig 3: Runner Blades of Kaplan Turbine.

Working Procedure of Kaplan Turbine

The water coming from the pen-stock is made to enter the scroll casing. The scroll casing is made in the required shape that the flow pressure is not lost. The guide vanes direct the water to the runner blades. The vanes are adjustable and can adjust itself according to the requirement of flow rate. The water takes a 90 degree turn, so the direction of the water is axial to that of runner blades. The runner blades start to rotate as the water strikes due to reaction force of the water. The runner blades has twist along its length in order to have always optimum angle of attack for all cross section of blades to achieve greater efficiency. From the runner blades, the water enters into the draft tube where its pressure energy and kinetic energy decreases. Kinetic energy is gets converted into pressure energy results in increased pressure of the water. The rotation of the turbine is used to rotate the shaft of generator for electricity production.

Application of Kaplan Turbine

  1. Kaplan turbines are widely used throughout the world for electrical power production.
  2. It can work more efficiently at low water head and high flow rates as compared with other types of turbines.
  3. It is smaller in size and easy to construct.
  4. The efficiency of Kaplan turbine is very high as compares with other hydraulic turbine.

Disadvantage of Kaplan Turbine

  1. The only disadvantage of kaplan turbine is cavitation, which occurs due to pressure drop in draft tube. Use of draft tube and proper material generally stainless steel for the runner blades may reduce the cavitation problem to a greater extent.
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