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Florian Thiery, PhD in Computer Aided Design, Luleå University. Photo: Ted Karlsson. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Better design of hydropower turbines

Published: 10 November 2016

Hydropower turbines are exposed to many starts and stops, leading to increased wear and maintenance. In a new dissertation at Luleå University of Technology, new methods are presented for designing hydropower turbines that are more reliable and that can cope with environmentally friendly lubricants.

With the introduction of wind and solar energy in the electricity production, hydropower turbines have an important role in balancing the varying production of electricity. Since the previous designs of hydropower turbines are not optimized for constant starting and stopping this has led to undesirable vibrations in the turbine, which in turn leads to long and costly downtime, sometimes for several months. To remedy this, Florian Thiery in his doctoral thesis developed models and simulations that allow hydropower turbines to be more reliable.

– The rationale of my research is to change the design parameters of the hydropower turbine so that dangerous vibrations can be reduced. By using the models I suggest it is possible to perform simulations much faster, without losing too much information about the dynamics of the turbines. This results in a more rapid evaluation of hydropower turbine design parameters, says Florian Thiery at the research subject computer aided design and who conducted his research for the Swedish Hydropower Centre (SVC).

– The need to replace expensive mechanical components decreases with a better design. Furthermore, you can adjust the water turbines for the new eco-friendly lubricants that are starting to appear on the market. These can have lower viscosity which decreases the damping properties, which in turn increases the risk of the turbine blades to come in contact with the surrounding structure, says Florian Thiery.

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