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SUMMARY OF “Hydrodynamic and performance of low power

turbines: conception, modeling and experimental tests”
Written By: Carlos Andrés Quintero Borrás
Code 200029306 – 5th Semester Mechanical Engineering
Universidad del Norte – Barranquilla

In Fluid Mechanics, similarity in turbomachines let us predict the behavior of a prototype

of a bomb (or turbine) starting from the study of a scaled model. Furthermore, with an
special interest for the selection of pumps, these laws let us also predict the behavior of a
given machine, under different operation conditions, with respect to the studied ones.
Similarity laws are based on the concept that two machines are counterparts when they are
geometrically similar (that is, the same linear scale relationship on three dimensions) and
have similar velocity diagrams on the input and output of the rotating element. These laws
have been widely studied and applied. For example, Mariana Simao y Helena Ramos, from
the Civil Engineering Department and CEHIDRO of the Instituto Superior Técnico from
the Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal, have studied some hydraulic machines based
on non-dimensional parameters, with the aim of optimization and the selection of adequate
turbines of low power for exploitation of an available energy.

According to the article, the scope of the paper is to search for new solutions regarding the
energy production of available low power in water systems. With the purpose of providing
and developing future areas with energy potential, especially in developing countries, rural
or isolated areas, the use of micro-turbines can promote the economical development and
the creativity for designing new solutions. With the objective of promoting the use of
energy associated with the installation of low power systems (i.e., low heads and/or
discharges), for example in water systems supply or irrigation, the hydrodynamic flow
through the selected turbines to these conditions and the estimation of the best efficiency
point, with the aim of finding new possible applications in systems already existent, are

The topic is introduced by explaining the importance of hydraulic machines and

turbomachines, because they make possible changes between mechanical and hydraulic
energy through two processes of transformation, depending on the transmission direction,
namely in pumps or turbines. In turbomachines, on the other hand, the flow movement is
done by forces developed by the liquid, in the impeller blades, caused by the rotation of the
runner. Turbines are called motor engines, and pumps are called receptor engines.
Volumetric or positive displacement machines also exist, and in them, the transference of
energy is made by volume variations which occur when the fluid is confined in a chamber
or in the passage; and the movement of the fluid is caused mainly by the action of the pump
impulsion, which forces the fluid to make the same movement over and over again in
alternating movements.

In this article, there was made a complete explanation of the behavior of these models,
based on the theory of the hydraulic similarity, which consists in three essential laws:
geometric similarity, kinematic similarity and dynamic similarity. For the geometric
similarity, the dimension of the turbine cannot be reduced to a smaller scale which can
induce scale effects in the prototype. In kinematic similarity, the triangle of speeds is
equivalent in the inlet and outlet, and in the dynamic similarity the polygon of forces must
be similar both in the prototype as in the model. The validation of these conditions gives a
scientific approach to select the turbine that best adjusts to the project conditions.

The paper fully describes the structure of hydraulic machines conception; for example, in
piston pumps, there is a piston that moves alternately as the result of forces which act over
it. This alternate movement, rectilinear, is transmitted to the rod/handle and there it is
transformed in a continuous circle movement. The transformation of an alternative linear
movement of a piston throughout the rotation of the shaft of a generator can be made by a
known mechanism as handle and rod. There are also explained the conception of positive
displacement pumps, volumetric machines selection and propeller turbines.

There was explained some mathematical models, such as Navier-Stokes equations: since
the fluid is considered a continuous mean, it is assumed that it is possible to define physical
variables such as pressure, velocity and density for a specific point of a fluid. Thus,
constitutive equations of the flow are equations for the mass and momentum conservation.
There is also developed a turbulence model, because, associated with turbulent flow,
rotational zones and intermittent diffusion effects, very uncoordinated and dissipative can
be identified. This turbulence model is a semi-empiric model based on the equations for
turbulence kinetic energy transportation and its dissipation rate. When deriving this model,
it is assumed that the fluid is totally turbulent and that the molecular viscosity effects are

Computational Fluid Dynamics models were also used, as their importance as tools for the
analysis of different scenarios and boundary conditions which are difficult to model
experimentally is remarked. These codes allow a better understanding of different hydraulic
turbines and flow conditions. Numeric simulations help to investigate different types of
configurations and parameters which can be of difficult experimental implementation.
From the results of the simulations, the paper concludes that the computational analysis
together with theoretical mathematical and physical methods help to understand the
hydrodynamic phenomenon in each turbine, leading towards a higher perception of the
interaction between the geometric and hydrodynamic characteristics, in what concerns flow
entrance and exit in the different turbines and when passing around or through the rotor. It
was also concluded that these new hydraulic energy converters can be easily manufactured
and installed in regions where the capacity to install is relatively small, such as small water
courses, water supply and irrigation systems or channels, or in projects in which
conventional turbines are not economically viable. It can be concluded from this article,
and with respect to the theoretical concepts seen about Turbomachines’ Similarity, that the
study of these laws is fundamental to understand the behavior of these machines, applied in
several fields, such as innovative solutions for energy exploitation in water supply systems.