Prediction of a Francis turbine prototype full load instability from investigations on the reduced scale model
The growing development of renewable energies combined with the process of privatization, lead to a change of economical energy market strategies. nstantaneous pricings of electricity as a function of demand or predictions, induces profitable peak productions which are mainly covered by hydroelectric power plants. Therefore, operators harness more hydroelectric facilities at full load operating conditions. However, the Francis Turbine features an axisymmetric rope leaving the runner which may act under certain conditions as an internal energy source leading to instability. Undesired power and pressure fluctuations are induced which may limit the maximum available power output. BC Hydro experiences such constraints in a hydroelectric power plant consisting of four 435 MW Francis Turbine generating units, which is located in Canada’s province of British Columbia. Under specific full load operating conditions, one unit experiences power and pressure fluctuations at 0.46 Hz. The aim of the paper is to present a methodology allowing prediction of this prototype’s instability frequency from investigations on the reduced scale model. A new hydro acoustic vortex rope model has been developed in SIMSEN software, taking into account the energy dissipation due to the thermodynamic exchange between the gas and the surrounding liquid. A combination of measurements, CFD simulations and omputation of eigenmodes of the reduced scale model installed on test rig, allows the accurate calibration of the vortex rope model parameters at the model scale. Then, transposition of parameters to the prototype according to similitude laws is applied and stability analysis of the power plant is performed. The eigenfrequency of 0.39 Hz related to the first eigenmode of the power plant is determined to be unstable. Predicted frequency of the full load power and pressure fluctuations at the unit unstable operating point is found to be in general agreement with the prototype measurements.