Detect Turbine Generator Faults with Vibration Monitoring Instrumentation

The core of a typical hydroelectric power plant is the turbine. As water runs through the penstock on its way from the reservoir to the outflow, it circulates past the turbine runner. The water flow causes the runner blades to rotate, thereby turning the turbine shaft. The turbine shaft subsequently turns the generator shaft, creating electricity.

Hydro turbines rotate slowly, typically at an operating speed of 75 to 1000 rpm. Turbines are often required to operate at partial load in order to meet fluctuating electricity demands. This part load operation can increase the potential for water pressure pulsations, turbulence and cavitation. Runner components are prone to fatigue and damage because of the errant vibration caused by these fluctuations.

In addition to runner components, turbine and generator shafts and bearings are also prone to vibration. Those vibrations can be faults including unbalance, misalignment, bearing fatigue and/or overload and insufficient bearing lubrication.

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