Hydro-acoustic resonance behavior in presence of a precessing vortex rope: observation of a lock-in phenomenon at part load Francis turbine operation
Francis turbines operating at part load condition experience the development of a cavitating helical vortex rope in the draft tube cone at the runner outlet. The precession movement of this vortex rope induces local convective pressure fluctuations and a synchronous pressure pulsation acting as a forced excitation for the hydraulic system, propagating in the entire system. In the draft tube, synchronous pressure fluctuations with a frequency different to the precession frequency may also be observed in presence of cavitation. In the case of a matching between the precession frequency and the synchronous surge frequency, hydro-acoustic resonance occurs in the draft tube inducing high pressure fluctuations throughout the entire hydraulic system, causing torque and power pulsations. The risk of such resonances limits the possible extension of the Francis turbine operating range. A more precise knowledge of the phenomenon occurring at such resonance conditions and prediction capabilities of the induced pressure pulsations needs therefore to be developed. This paper proposes a detailed study of the occurrence of hydro-acoustic resonance for one particular part load operating point featuring a well-developed precessing vortex rope and corresponding to 64% of the BEP. It focuses particularly on the evolution of the local interaction between the pressure fluctuations at the precession frequency and the synchronous surge mode passing through the resonance condition. For this purpose, an experimental investigation is performed on a reduced scale model of a Francis turbine, including pressure fluctuation measurements in the draft tube and in the upstream piping system. Changing the pressure level in the draft tube, resonance occurrences are highlighted for different Froude numbers. The evolution of the hydro-acoustic response of the system suggests that a lock-in effect between the excitation frequency and the natural frequency may occur at low Froude number, inducing a hydro-acoustic resonance in a random range of cavitation numbers.