Hydrodynamic analysis of a low head prototype Francis turbine for establishing an optimum operating regime using CFD


  • G. Tiwari Department of Applied Mechanics, MNNIT Allahabad, Prayagraj, 211004, India Phone: +919793258887, +919479957497.
  • V. Prasad Department of Civil Engineering, MANIT, Bhopal, 462003, India.
  • S.N. Shukla Research and Development, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd., Pune, 411045, India
  • V. K. Patel Research and Development, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd., Pune, 411045, India.




Hydro projects, Francis turbine, performance characteristics, head loss, CFD


Hydraulic turbines need to operate at regimes other than designed ones. Off-design functioning of these turbines yields an inefficient and uneconomical operation of hydro projects. Performance and energy losses at different possible operating conditions need to be evaluated before finalizing the design of water turbines for satisfactory operations. Moreover, hydraulic turbines are unique machines designed for unique set of operating conditions and cost a huge percentage of the overall cost of the project. This work is compiled with twofold objectives; derivation of complete performance characteristics of a 48m head prototype Francis turbine in order to establish an optimum operating regime and, determination and analyses of head loss at different components of the turbine. Steady state flow simulations for four different load operations (60%, 80%, 100% and 120%) have been carried out using computational fluid dynamics. It is found that the optimum regime of operation lies within the speed factor range of 0.412-0.48 along with discharge factor range of 0.27-0.329 and maximum efficiency is obtained as 90.64% at full load operation. Maximum head loss in critical components of the turbine such as runner and draft tube is found as 12.7% at speed factor of 0.568 and 26.31% at 0.202 speed factor respectively. Also, the maximum total head loss in all the components is found as 47.8% at 60% load and 0.609 speed factor. It is concluded that the functioning of the turbine at higher speed factors is more detrimental than that at lower speed factors. Requirement of performance improvement at off-design conditions (especially at 60% load operation) is also suggested in order to widen the range of optimum operating regime. Obtained computational results are validated with experimental results and a strong agreement is found between the two.


V. Barlit, "Hydraulic Turbines (Hydraulic Theory, Computations and Experimental Investigations), Vol-1, Vol-2," Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal, 2007.

G. Tiwari, J. Kumar, V. Prasad, and V. K. Patel, "Derivation of cavitation characteristics of a 3MW prototype Francis turbine through numerical hydrodynamic analysis," Materials Today: Proceedings, 2020.

C. Warnick, "Hydropower engineering," 1984.

W. Wang, Q. Chen, D. Yan, and D. Geng, "A novel comprehensive evaluation method of the draft tube pressure pulsation of Francis turbine based on EEMD and information entropy," Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing, vol. 116, pp. 772-786, 2019.

S. Pasche, F. Gallaire, and F. Avellan, "Origin of the synchronous pressure fluctuations in the draft tube of Francis turbines operating at part load conditions," Journal of Fluids and Structures, vol. 86, pp. 13-33, 2019.

T. M. Arispe, W. de Oliveira, and R. G. Ramirez, "Francis turbine draft tube parameterization and analysis of performance characteristics using CFD techniques," Renewable Energy, vol. 127, pp. 114-124, 2018.

E. Septyaningrum et al., "Performance analysis of multi-row vertical axis hydrokinetic turbine–straight blade cascaded (VAHT-SBC) turbines array," Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Sciences, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 5665-5688, 2019.

G. Kahraman, H. L. Yücel, and Y. Taşgin, "Identification of optimum working conditions in hydroelectric power plants for cavitation," Engineering Failure Analysis, vol. 96, pp. 168-174, 2019.

A. Favrel, J. G. P. Junior, C. Landry, A. Müller, K. Yamaishi, and F. Avellan, "Dynamic modal analysis during reduced scale model tests of hydraulic turbines for hydro-acoustic characterization of cavitation flows," Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing, vol. 117, pp. 81-96, 2019.

S. Mauro, R. Lanzafame, S. Brusca, and M. Messina, "Unsteady computational fluid dynamics analysis of the hydrodynamic instabilities in a reversible Francis turbine used in a storage plant," Heliyon, vol. 5, no. 9, p. e02441, 2019.

C. Trivedi, E. Agnalt, and O. G. Dahlhaug, "Experimental study of a Francis turbine under variable-speed and discharge conditions," Renewable Energy, vol. 119, pp. 447-458, 2018.

D. Puspitasari and K. Sahim, "Effect of Savonius blade height on the performance of a hybrid Darrieus-Savonius wind turbine," Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Sciences, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 5832-5847, 2019.

P. Kumar and R. Saini, "Study of cavitation in hydro turbines—A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 374-383, 2010.

C. Trivedi, P. J. Gogstad, and O. G. Dahlhaug, "Investigation of the unsteady pressure pulsations in the prototype Francis turbines–Part 1: steady state operating conditions," Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing, vol. 108, pp. 188-202, 2018.

R. Goyal and B. K. Gandhi, "Review of hydrodynamics instabilities in Francis turbine during off-design and transient operations," Renewable Energy, vol. 116, pp. 697-709, 2018.

J. G. Pereira Jr et al., "Procedure for predicting part load resonance in Francis turbine hydropower units based on swirl number and local cavitation coefficient similitude," Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing, vol. 132, pp. 84-101, 2019.

R. Aponte et al., "Minimizing erosive wear through a CFD multi-objective optimization methodology for different operating points of a Francis turbine," Renewable Energy, vol. 145, pp. 2217-2232, 2020.

A. Luna-Ramírez, A. Campos-Amezcua, O. Dorantes-Gómez, Z. Mazur-Czerwiec, and R. Muñoz-Quezada, "Failure analysis of runner blades in a Francis hydraulic turbine—Case study," Engineering Failure Analysis, vol. 59, pp. 314-325, 2016.

D. Ramirez, A. Rubio-Clemente, and E. Chica, "Design and numerical analysis of an efficient H-Darrieus vertical-axis hydrokinetic turbine," Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Sciences, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 6036-6058, 2019.

P. P. Gohil and R. Saini, "Effect of temperature, suction head and flow velocity on cavitation in a Francis turbine of small hydro power plant," Energy, vol. 93, pp. 613-624, 2015.

G. Tiwari, V. Prasad, S. Shukla, and V. K. Patel, "Derivation of Complete Performance Characteristics of a Low Head Prototype Francis Turbine Using CFD," in Advances in Mechanical Engineering: Springer, 2020, pp. 1581-1591.

G. Biswas, Introduction to Fluid Mechanics and Fluid Machines, 2e. Tata McGraw-Hill Education, 2003.

S.-J. Kim, Y.-S. Choi, Y. Cho, J.-W. Choi, and J.-H. Kim, "Effect of blade thickness on the hydraulic performance of a Francis hydro turbine model," Renewable energy, vol. 134, pp. 807-817, 2019.

D. Valentín, A. Presas, C. Valero, M. Egusquiza, E. Jou, and E. Egusquiza, "Influence of the hydrodynamic damping on the dynamic response of Francis turbine runners," Journal of Fluids and Structures, vol. 90, pp. 71-89, 2019.

A. Presas, Y. Luo, Z. Wang, and B. Guo, "Fatigue life estimation of Francis turbines based on experimental strain measurements: Review of the actual data and future trends," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 102, pp. 96-110, 2019.

P. Nag, Power plant engineering. Tata McGraw-Hill Education, 2002.

B. H. Shanab, M. E. Elrefaie, and A. A. El-Badawy, "Active control of variable geometry Francis Turbine," Renewable Energy, vol. 145, pp. 1080-1090, 2020.

M. Altimemy, B. Attiya, C. Daskiran, I.-H. Liu, and A. Oztekin, "Mitigation of flow-induced pressure fluctuations in a Francis turbine operating at the design and partial load regimes—LES simulations," International Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow, vol. 79, p. 108444, 2019.

A. Laouari and A. Ghenaiet, "Predicting unsteady behavior of a small francis turbine at several operating points," Renewable energy, vol. 133, pp. 712-724, 2019.

X. Liu, Y. Luo, B. W. Karney, and W. Wang, "A selected literature review of efficiency improvements in hydraulic turbines," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 51, pp. 18-28, 2015.

K. Celebioglu, B. Altintas, S. Aradag, and Y. Tascioglu, "Numerical research of cavitation on Francis turbine runners," International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, vol. 42, no. 28, pp. 17771-17781, 2017.

J. G. Pereira Jr, L. Andolfatto, and F. Avellan, "Monitoring a Francis turbine operating conditions," Flow Measurement and Instrumentation, vol. 63, pp. 37-46, 2018.

W. Hakim Safi and V. Prasad, "Design and Permance Analysis of Francis Turbine for Hydro Power Station on Kunar River Using CFD," International Journal of Advanced Research, vol. 5, pp. 1004-1012, 05/31 2017.

H. Zhang and L. Zhang, "Numerical simulation of cavitating turbulent flow in a high head Francis turbine at part load operation with OpenFOAM," Procedia Engineering, vol. 31, pp. 156-165, 2012.

C. ANSYS, "16.0," ANSYS CFX Tutorials, 2015.




How to Cite

G. Tiwari, V. Prasad, S. Shukla, and V. K. Patel, “Hydrodynamic analysis of a low head prototype Francis turbine for establishing an optimum operating regime using CFD”, J. Mech. Eng. Sci., vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 6625–6641, Jun. 2020.