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Proceedings of the Nineteenth (2009) International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference

Osaka, Japan, June 21-26, 2009

Copyright © 2009 by The International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers (ISOPE)
ISBN 978-1-880653-53-1 (Set); ISSN 1098-618

Development of a New Radial Impulse Turbine Design for OWC

Bruno Pereiras, Francisco Castro, and Miguel A. Rodríguez
Energetic Engineering and Fluids Mechanics Deparment, University of Valladolid
Valladolid, Spain


Traditionally, Wells turbine has been widely used in OWC plants. T ∫T o ω dt

η = 0

However, an alternative has been studied during the last years, a self- 1
T Mean efficiency
rectifying turbine known as impulse turbine. We are interested in the T ∫ Δ P q dt
radial version of the impulse turbine, which was initially proposed by ξ Rotor losses coefficient
M. McCormick. A former research work, which aimed to improve the ρ Air density
knowledge of the local flow behaviour and the prediction of the φ= vR/uR Flow coefficient
performance for this kind of turbine, was carried out using CFD
Φ Flow coefficient amplitude; φ= Φ sin (2πt/T)
(FLUENT®). This previous work was developed with a geometry
extracted from the literature, but now our goal is to develop a new ω Rotational speed
geometry design with a better performance. Under sinusoidal flow
conditions the new design improves the turbine´s efficiency around 5% CURRENT STATUS OF AIR TURBINES
more than the geometry proposed by (Setoguchi, Santhakumar, Takao, Wave energy power plants based on oscillating water columns (OWC)
& Kaneko, 2002). In this paper we will describe the flow behaviour and convert wave energy into low-pressure pneumatic power. An OWC
the performance of this new turbine. plant consists mainly of a submerged air chamber connected to the
atmosphere through a duct where a turbine is installed. The successive
KEYWORDS sea water waves come into contact with the chamber compressing and
Wave energy, OWC, radial impulse turbine, CFD, flow analysis. decompressing the air in it by the periodic motion of the oscillating sea
water free surface. This periodic motion creates a bidirectional periodic
NOMENCLATURE flow through the turbine. Under these peculiar operational conditions,
AR Characteristic area and though both self-rectifying turbines and conventional turbines are
characterized by unidirectional rotation, the first ones, show a better
b Rotor blade height
behaviour. Here it must be said that there have been some proposals on
CA = wave energy devices using a system of non-return valves for rectifying
( )
ρ v R2 + u R2
Input coefficient. the air flow, together with conventional turbines (Ueki, Ishizawa, &
Nakagawa, 2000), but they are complex and difficult to maintain.
CT = The development of self-rectifying turbines has been problematic for
1 2 2
( )
ρ vR + uR ARrR
Torque coefficient two reasons: the geometrical design itself is complicated, and the
designer must find the best possible solution and achieve the highest
1 Characteristic dynamic pressure efficiency of the entire system. The total efficiency of the wave energy
PDIN = ρ velement

2 plant depends not only on the turbine´s efficiency but also on the
∆Po Total pressure drop between settling chamber performance of the chamber. This means that the turbine must provide
and atmosphere the optimal pneumatic “damping” (pressure difference across the
∆P Total pressure drop turbine) so the capture efficiency of the OWC chamber is maximized.
q Flow rate Different types of self-rectifying turbines have been proposed to be
rR Mean radius used in OWC plants, being Wells turbine the first one of them in 1976.
To Output mechanical torque Later on, impulse turbines were suggested as an alternative. There are
T Period two kinds of impulse turbine: the axial and the radial one.
UR=ω rR Circumferential velocity at rR The performance of Wells turbine has been described in many articles
and reports (Inoue, Kaneko, Setoguchi, & Raghunathan, 1986b),
velement Characteristic velocity
(Raghunathan, 1995) and (Govardhan, 2007). All these researches
vR=q/2πrRb Mean radial velocity agreed in the main disadvantages of this turbine: narrow range of flow
α Absolute flow angle rates with good efficiencies, poor starting characteristics, high speed
β Relative flow angle operation, high noise level and high periodical axial thrust. In order to
η Efficiency overcome the drawbacks of Wells turbine some modifications have
ηrotor Rotor efficiency been tested: a turbine with self-pitch-controlled guide vanes (Kim,
Setoguchi, & Kaneko, 2001), a turbine with variable-pitch angle blades,