Acoustic scintillation flow meters played an important role in assessing turbine performance at the McNary dam in the US

ASL’s acoustic scintillation flow meter (ASFM) played an important role in assessing the effect of fish diversion screens on turbine performance at a US Army Corps of Engineers’ hydroelectric dam

on the Columbia river. The Corps is currently engaged in a programme of improving fish passage through Kaplan turbines. Collecting efficiency information for existing turbines is an important part of this work. A series of measurements were made in unit 5 at McNary dam, Oregon in January 1998 for that purpose.

McNary dam is located at river mile 292 on the Columbia river. The power house contains 14 Kaplan turbine/ generator sets. The generator nameplate ratings are 70MW each and they can be operated continuously at 115% of rated capacity with a maximum power output of 80.5MW. Each of the Kaplan turbines (five-blade, 7.1m diameter runner,

85.7rpm) develops 111,300hp at a design head of 24m.

An individual turbine intake consists of 3x6m wide bays. Each bay contains slot openings for an operating head gate (emergency closure) and an upstream slot for bulkheads. To protect downstream migrating juvenile salmonids, fish diversion screens are installed in the bulkhead slot. The screens divert juvenile fish and water up the bulkhead slot ,

where the juvenile fish can enter a

system designed to bypass the fish safely to the tailrace of the dam.

Desirable near-uniform flows into

a turbine intake are disrupted when

fish diversion screens are installed.

The diversion screens create large

scale eddies within the intake, causing

a decrease in turbine performance.

This results in less power production

and may also create a more harmful environment for some of the juvenile

fish, which are not intercepted by diversion screens and pass through the operating units.

The ASFM’s ability to measure absolute discharge under the conditions prevailing in low head plants was the reason for

its use in the unit 5 tests at McNary

dam. The ASFM uses a technique called acoustic scintillation drift to measure the flow speed of water perpendicular to a number of acoustic paths established across the intake to the turbine. Fluctuations in the acoustic signals transmitted along a path result from turbulence in the water carried along by the current. The ASFM measures those fluctuations (known as scintillations) and from them computes the lateral average (ie along the acoustic path) of the flow perpendicular to each path.

The acoustic sensors were installed on frames in the intake gate slots,

leaving the flow passage unobstructed. Installation of the equipment required three days, without the necessity of dewatering the turbine. After that, flow measurement required approximately 20min per condition.

The ASFM is an effective method

for determining the effects of intake modifications on turbine performance. The presence of the diversion screens

in the intake caused a loss of 2-3% in turbine operating efficiency within the normal operating range. Their presence also decreased the full load power production by 6%.

The air gap monitoring system (AGMS) and ZOOM machine condition monitor from Vibro SystM of Canada have equipped a combined total of over 500 hydro machines worldwide and nearly 55,000MW of monitored capacity. VibroSystM claims that the advantages of AGMS are:
Intelligent analysis features.
A pole reference principle.
The ability to measure the air gap over the full operating and transient range of the machine.
The AGMS is based on capacitive sensors mounted on the upper plane of the stator. There are between 4 and 16 sensors depending on generator diameter, and a central PC controller for data analysis and display. On the pump/generators, a second set is installed on the stator bottom. Data can be accessed through the network from a workstation in the plant or at a remote centre. The AGMS is particularly recommended to monitor new and refurbished generators, prior to refurbishment. It defines the scope of work, based on the prevailing condition and information from trend air gap problems like concrete growth.
The ZOOM machine condition monitor is an extended AGMS. In addition to the air gap, its open architecture allows the integration of any existing or new instrumentation. It can be customised to each unit’s specific needs. Generally, between 8 and 16 additional dynamic inputs and up to 32 status inputs are integrated. All parameters are synchronised with rotor poles
for correlation.
Winding vibration can also be monitored using VibroSystM’s stator bar vibration evaluator (SBV) for in-slot winding vibration, and the fibre optic accelerometer (FOA) for end-winding vibration.
The SBV measures the vibration of the bars relative to the stator core. This vibration arises from insulation ageing, poor sidewall packing and wedging system loosening. It causes abrasion of bar insulation and loss of lateral contact with the stator lamination.
The SBV uses capacitive sensors mounted on the stator wall or embedded in the slots. One sensor per phase circuit is installed on the bar most prone to vibrate because of its electrical properties. The sensor signal is processed by an acquisition unit and data is stored in a central PC controller, to be analysed with the ZOOM software. The SBV system is currently used on 65 hydro generators.
The FOA optical sensing principle makes it ideal for applications in high voltage and electrically hostile environments like end-winding or HV transformers where conventional piezo-type accelerometers could affect reliability and present hazards. It is used on pump/generators for three reasons: size of end-windings; higher machine vibration; and accelerated insulation ageing process. The multiple start and stop cycles per day impose high thermal stress on the winding insulation which accelerates the ageing process.
The FOA comprises of a sensing head, a fibre optic cable (6m or 10m), and a feedthrough connector with built-in optoelectronic
conditioner. It is currently used on three pump/generator units.

VibrosystM is at 2727 Jacques-Cartier Blvd, Longueuil, Quebec
J4N 1L7, Canada