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:

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: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>