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Water Turbine - Development, Classification & Advantages

Water turbine is a device that convert the energy in a stream of fluid into mechanical energy by passing the stream through a system of fixed and moving fan like blades and causing the latter to rotate.

A turbine looks like a large wheel with many small radiating blades around its rim.A water turbine is a rotary engine that takes energy from moving water.

Development of Water Turbine:

Water TurbineIn very ancient days water wheels were developed to convert hydraulic energy into mechanical energy. Basically these water wheels are useful to lift water from well for irrigation purpose. Due to its very slow moving speed, water wheels are not suitable for all types of purposes. Moreover, the hydro power was available mostly in rural and mountainous regions. It was necessary to install mills which are run by water wheels near to the power station.

The main disadvantage of this system was to run prime movers round the clock, even if some of the machines in the mills may remain idle.

To overcome the problems arises from water wheel mechanism, lot of research was conducted by numerous scientists and engineering people. To improve its performance, engineers taken huge efforts. After intensive research Water Turbines were designed. The water turbines developed in those days can be operating under very high water head and higher speed. The highest water head used to operate water turbines is 1765 meters and was used in Austria.

Classification of Water turbines:

According to the type of flow of water: The water turbines used as prime movers in hydro electric power stations are of four types. They are

  • Axial flow : having flow along shaft axis
  • Inward radial flow : having flow along the radius
  • Tangential or peripheral : having flow along tangential direction
  • Mixed flow : having radial inlet axial outlet

If the runner blades of axial flow turbines are fixed, those are called propeller turbines.
According to the action of water on moving blades water turbines are of two types namely impulse ad reaction type turbines.

Impulse Turbines:

Impulse Turbine PrincipalThese turbines change the direction of flow of a high velocity fluid jet. The resulting impulse spins the turbine and leaves the fluid flow with diminished kinetic energy. There is no pressure change of the fluid in the turbine rotor blades. Before reaching the turbine the fluid's Pressure head is changed to velocity head by accelerating the fluid with a nozzle. Pelton wheels and de Laval turbines use this process exclusively. Impulse turbines do not require a pressure casement around the runner since the fluid jet is prepared by a nozzle prior to reaching turbine. Newton's second law describes the transfer of energy for impulse turbines.

Reaction Turbines:

Impulse and Reaction Turbine DeiffrenceThese turbines develop torque by reacting to the fluid's pressure or weight. The pressure of the fluid changes as it passes through the turbine rotor blades. A pressure casement is needed to contain the working fluid as it acts on the turbine stage(s) or the turbine must be fully immersed in the fluid flow (wind turbines). The casing contains and directs the working fluid and, for water turbines, maintains the suction imparted by the draft tube. Francis turbines and most steam turbines use this concept. For compressible working fluids, multiple turbine stages may be used to harness the expanding gas efficiently. Newton's third law describes the transfer of energy for reaction turbines.
According to the Head and quantity of water available the water turbines are of two types. Those are

High head - low flow and low to medium head and high to medium discharge turbines.
According to the name of the originator water turbines are of 3 types namely Pelton Wheel, Francis turbine and Kaplan turbine.

Advantages of Water Turbines:

  • They can work under any water head.
  • They can operate at very high speed.
  • They can be controlled automatically.

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