Hydroacoustic modelling and numerical simulation of unsteady operation of hydroelectric systems

Hydropower represented in 1999 19% of the world electricity production and the absolute production is expected to grow considerably during the next 30 years. Francis turbines play a major role in the hydroelectric production due to their extended range of application. Due to the deregulated energy market, hydroelectric power plants are increasingly subjecting to off design operation, start-up and shutdown and new control strategies. Consequently, the operation of Francis turbine power plants leads to transients phenomena, risk of resonance or instabilities. The understanding of these propagation phenomena is therefore paramount. This work is a contribution to the hydroacoustic modelling of Francis turbine power plants for the investigation of the aforementioned problematic. The first part of the document presents the modelling of the dynamic behavior and the transient analysis of hydroelectric power plants. Therefore, the one-dimensional model of an elementary pipe is derived from the governing equations, i.e. momentum and continuity equations. The use of appropriate numerical schemes leads to a discrete model of the pipe consisting of a T-shaped equivalent electrical circuit. The accuracy in the frequency domain of the discrete model of the pipe is determined by comparison with the analytical solution of the governing equations. The modelling approach is extended to hydraulic components such as valve, surge tanks, surge shaft, air vessels, cavitation development, etc. Then, the modelling of the Francis, Pelton and Kaplan turbines for transient analysis purposes is presented. This modelling is based on the use of the static characteristic of the turbines. The hydraulic components models are implemented in the EPFL software SIMSEN developed for the simulation of electrical installations. After validation of the hydraulic models, transient phenomena in hydroelectric power plants are investigated. It appears that standard separate studies of either the hydraulic or of the electrical part are valid only for design purposes, while full hydroelectric models are necessary for the optimization of turbine speed governors. The second part of the document deals with the modelling and analysis of possible resonance or operating instabilities in Francis turbine power plants. The review of the excitation sources inherent to Francis turbine operations indicates that the draft tube and the rotor-stator interaction pressure fluctuations are of the major concern. As the modelling of part load pressure fluctuations induced by the cavitating vortex rope that develops in the draft tube at low frequencies is well established, the focus is put on higher frequency phenomena such as higher part load pressure fluctuations and rotorstator interactions or full load instabilities. Three hydroacoustic investigations are performed. (i) Pressure fluctuations identified experimentally at higher part load on a reduced scale model Francis turbine are investigated by means of hydroacoustic simulations and high speed flow visualizations. The resonance of the test rig due to the vortex rope excitation is pointed out by the simulation while the special motion and shape of the cavitating vortex rope at the resonance frequency is highlighted by the visualization. A description of the possible excitation mechanisms is proposed. (ii) A pressure and power surge measured on a 4 × 400 MW pumped-storage plant operating at full load is investigated. The modelling of the entire system, including the hydraulic circuit, the rotating inertias and the electrical installation provides an explanation of the phenomenon and the related conditions of apparition. A non-linear model of the full load vortex rope is established and qualitatively validated. (iii) The rotor-stator interactions (RSI) are studied in the case of a reduced scale pump-turbine model. An original modelling approach of this phenomenon based on the flow distribution between the stationnary and the rotating part is presented. The model provides the RSI pressure fluctuation patterns in the vaneless gap and enables to predict standing waves in the spiral case and adduction pipe. The proposed one-dimensional modelling approach enables the simulation, analysis and optimization of the dynamic behavior of hydroelectric power plants. The approach has proven its capability of simulating properly both transient and periodic phenomena. Such investigations can be undertaken at early stages of a project to assess the possible dynamic problems and to select appropriate solutions ensuring the safest and optimal operation of the facility.

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