Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Improving the efficiency of hydropower stations


Hydroelectric power provides 16 per cent of Europe’s electricity, but most of the plants and their turbines were designed many years ago. By redesigning the runner - the propeller-like component that transfers energy from the water to the drive shaft in the turbine - EUREKA project FLINDT enables operators to harness more power from their turbines.

According to Professor François Avellan, Director of the Swiss main project partner, Laboratoire de Machines Hydrauliques de l’ EPFL, Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, the project can also help hydropower stations store power and manage peak demands.

He says, “hydropower stations are managed too conservatively. Small adjustments, within safety parameters, to the runner of the hydraulic machine can dramatically improve the output from existing hydropower plants.”

The challenge the project faced was to understand and predict the complex fluid dynamics within the "draft tube" containing the runner. The draft tube is a key component in hydropower stations as it converts the kinetic energy of the water into pressure energy that can be utilised to drive turbines.

The partners spent thousands of hours investigating the flow in draft tubes using computer models and a scale model. This provided a better understanding of the physics of such flows, allowing the partners to build up an extensive experimental database and enabling the project to avoid undesirable phenomena such as “flow blockage” and other dangerous instabilities when redesigning runners. The knowledge gained can now be applied to improve the output of existing hydropower stations, adding significantly to the European power generation economy.

Water is returned to the river after use. Therefore, in addition to the direct environmental benefits of renewable energy, the project also has indirect benefits: a better understanding of the flow characteristics within the draft tube allows better control of the mixing process in this component, in particular the stresses and the air diffusion, which is of prime importance for the local river life.

The original FLINDT project ran from 1997 to 2000 but the partners agreed to extend the project by two years to carry out further research and are now looking to set up other research projects to investigate safety and reliability issues to push hydroplants to even greater efficiency.

According to Prof. Avellan the project had three major benefits - an increased knowledge about flow through draft tubes, development of the draft flow database and education of the PhD students involved with the project.

"EUREKA’s unique bottom-up approach brought together competitors in a very aggressive market to co-operate in research that benefits all,” he says.

Nicola Vatthauer | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Solid progress in carbon capture
27.10.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

nachricht Greater Range and Longer Lifetime
26.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>