Experimental study of impulse turbines and permanent magnet alternators for pico-hydropower generation Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/q811kp21b

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  • Increasing access to modern forms of energy in developing countries is a crucial component to eliminating extreme poverty around the world. Pico-hydro schemes (less than 5-kW range) can provide environmentally sustainable electricity and mechanical power to rural communities, generally more cost-effectively than diesel/gasoline generators, wind turbines, or solar photovoltaic systems. The use of these types of systems has in the past and will continue in the future to have a large impact on rural, typically impoverished areas, allowing them the means for extended hours of productivity, new types of commerce, improved health care, and other services vital to building an economy. For this thesis, a laboratory-scale test fixture was constructed to test the operating performance characteristics of impulse turbines and electrical generators. Tests were carried out on a Pelton turbine, two Turgo turbines, and a permanent magnet alternator (PMA). The effect on turbine efficiency was determined for a number of parameters including: variations in speed ratio, jet misalignment and jet quality. Under the best conditions, the Turgo turbine efficiency was observed to be over 80% at a speed ratio of about 0.46, which is quite good for pico-hydro-scale turbines. The Pelton turbine was found to be less efficient with a peak of just over 70% at a speed ratio of about 0.43. The lower efficiency can be largely attributed to the rougher surface on the turbine blades. Both turbine types had lower than expected speed ratios which were likely caused by inefficiencies in the turbine. Tests of jet misalignment showed that moving the jet to the inside or outside edge of the buckets caused a drop in efficiency of around 10-20% as well as shifting the optimal speed ratio down 0.03 (6.5%). For the PMA, the generator efficiency peaked at just less than 70%. The data demonstrate the impact of impedance matching on generator efficiency for a PMA. Currently published literature provides few details specific to Turgo turbines or PMAs despite their suitability for pico-hydro. Nonetheless, Turgo turbines are currently available on the market (at least in the US) and offer a viable option for picohydro schemes, particularly in the medium head range. This thesis describes an experimental investigation of impulse turbines, including both Turgo and Pelton turbines, which will be useful for implementation of rural electrification projects. The results stress the importance of proper system design and installation in order to ensure a successful scheme.
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