Lecture 27

The optimum value of the overall efficiency of a Pelton turbine depends both on the values of the specific speed and the speed ratio. The Pelton wheels with a single jet operate in the specific speed range of 4-16, and therefore the ratio D/d lies between 6 to 26 as given by the Eq. (15.25b). A large value of D/d reduces the rpm as well as the mechanical efficiency of the wheel. It is possible to increase the specific speed by choosing a lower value of D/d, but the efficiency will decrease because of the close spacing of buckets. The value of D/d is normally kept between 14 and 16 to maintain high efficiency. The number of buckets required to maintain optimum efficiency is usually fixed by the empirical relation.

n(number of buckets) = (27.2)

Govering of Pelton Turbine : First let us discuss what is meant by governing of turbines in general. When a turbine drives an electrical generator or alternator, the primary requirement is that the rotational speed of the shaft and hence that of the turbine rotor has to be kept fixed. Otherwise the frequency of the electrical output will be altered. But when the electrical load changes depending upon the demand, the speed of the turbine changes automatically. This is because the external resisting torque on the shaft is altered while the driving torque due to change of momentum in the flow of fluid through the turbine remains the same. For example, when the load is increased, the speed of the turbine decreases and vice versa . A constancy in speed is therefore maintained by adjusting the rate of energy input to the turbine accordingly. This is usually accomplished by changing the rate of fluid flow through the turbine- the flow in increased when the load is increased and the flow is decreased when the load is decreased. This adjustment of flow with the load is known as the governing of turbines.

In case of a Pelton turbine, an additional requirement for its operation at the condition of maximum efficiency is that the ration of bucket to initial jet velocity has to be kept at its optimum value of about 0.46. Hence, when U is fixed. has to be fixed. Therefore the control must be made by a variation of the cross-sectional area, A, of the jet so that the flow rate changes in proportion to the change in the flow area keeping the jet velocity same. This is usually achieved by a spear valve in the nozzle (Figure 27.2a). Movement of the spear and the axis of the nozzle changes the annular area between the spear and the housing. The shape of the spear is such, that the fluid coalesces into a circular jet and then the effect of the spear movement is to vary the diameter of the jet. Deflectors are often used (Figure 27.2b) along with the spear valve to prevent the serious water hammer problem due to a sudden reduction in the rate of flow. These plates temporarily defect the jet so that the entire flow does not reach the bucket; the spear valve may then be moved slowly to its new position to reduce the rate of flow in the pipe-line gradually. If the bucket width is too small in relation to the jet diameter, the fluid is not smoothly deflected by the buckets and, in consequence, much energy is dissipated in turbulence and the efficiency drops considerably. On the other hand, if the buckets are unduly large, the effect of friction on the surfaces is unnecessarily high. The optimum value of the ratio of bucket width to jet diameter has been found to vary between 4 and 5.

Figure 27.2 (a) Spear valve to alter jet area in a Pelton wheel
(b) Jet deflected from bucket

Limitation of a Pelton Turbine: The Pelton wheel is efficient and reliable when operating under large heads. To generate a given output power under a smaller head, the rate of flow through the turbine has to be higher which requires an increase in the jet diameter. The number of jets are usually limited to 4 or 6 per wheel. The increases in jet diameter in turn increases the wheel diameter. Therefore the machine becomes unduly large, bulky and slow-running. In practice, turbines of the reaction type are more suitable for lower heads.