The principal feature of a reaction turbine that distinguishes it from an impulse turbine is that only a part of the total head available at the inlet to the turbine is converted to velocity head, before the runner is reached. Also in the reaction turbines the working fluid, instead of engaging only one or two blades, completely fills the passages in the runner. The pressure or static head of the fluid changes gradually as it passes through the runner along with the change in its kinetic energy based on absolute velocity due to the impulse action between the fluid and the runner. Therefore the cross-sectional area of flow through the passages of the fluid. A reaction turbine is usually well suited for low heads. A radial flow hydraulic turbine of reaction type was first developed by an American Engineer, James B. Francis (1815-92) and is named after him as the Francis turbine. The schematic diagram of a Francis turbine is shown in Fig.
|A Francis Turbines|
A Francis turbine comprises mainly the four components:
(i) sprical casing,
(ii) guide on stay vanes,
(iii) runner blades,
Spiral Casing : Most of these machines have vertical shafts although some smaller machines of this type have horizontal shaft. The fluid enters from the penstock (pipeline leading to the turbine from the reservoir at high altitude) to a spiral casing which completely surrounds the runner. This casing is known as scroll casing or volute. The cross-sectional area of this casing decreases uniformly along the circumference to keep the fluid velocity constant in magnitude along its path towards the guide vane.
This is so because the rate of flow along the fluid path in the volute decreases due to continuous entry of the fluid to the runner through the openings of the guide vanes or stay vanes.
Guide or Stay vane:
The basic purpose of the guide vanes or stay vanes is to convert a part of pressure energy of the fluid at its entrance to the kinetic energy and then to direct the fluid on to the runner blades at the angle appropriate to the design. Moreover, the guide vanes are pivoted and can be turned by a suitable governing mechanism to regulate the flow while the load changes. The guide vanes are also known as wicket gates. The guide vanes impart a tangential velocity and hence an angular momentum to the water before its entry to the runner. The flow in the runner of a Francis turbine is not purely radial but a combination of radial and tangential. The flow is inward, i.e. from the periphery towards the centre. The height of the runner depends upon the specific speed. The height increases with the increase in the specific speed. The main direction of flow change as water passes through the runner and is finally turned into the axial direction while entering the draft tube.
The shape of the blades of a Francis runner is complex. The exact shape depends on its specific speed. It is obvious from the equation of specific speed that higher specific speed means lower head. This requires that the runner should admit a comparatively large quantity of water for a given power output and at the same time the velocity of discharge at runner outlet should be small to avoid cavitation
The draft tube is a conduit which connects the runner exit to the tail race where the water is being finally discharged from the turbine. The primary function of the draft tube is to reduce the velocity of the discharged water to minimize the loss of kinetic energy at the outlet. This permits the turbine to be set above the tail water without any appreciable drop of available head. A clear understanding of the function of the draft tube in any reaction turbine, in fact, is very important for the purpose of its design. The purpose of providing a draft tube will be better understood if we carefully study the net available head across a reaction turbine.