hydropower

Dynamic Hydropower

Josef Hasslberger
Rome, Italy
December 1993


http://www.hasslberger.com/tecno/tecno_2.htm

The "suction turbine" or "jet turbine" of Viktor Schauberger

Hydropower engineering, up to this day, is almost esclusively concerned with two variables, one being the altitude differential between head water and turbine and the other the quantity of water that can be brought to flow through the turbines.

A third important variable, the velocity of flow of water, is generally not thought to be important. It is taken into consideration only as the velocity resulting from the release of water pressure connected to and dependent on altitude differential but not as an important factor in its own right. In fact, current design of hydropower facilities normally excludes utilization of the dynamic energy potential inherent in the free flow of water. A dam destroys this natural energy potential by bringing the water from its dynamic state of flow to a static state, a complete absence of motion.

If we study the writings of Viktor Schauberger and Ludwig Herbrand, we find that the energy inherent in the free and unhindered flow of water may be potentially much greater than that obtainable from the exclusive use of pressure resulting from altitude differential.

A normal flow of water rather than an altitude-induced pressure, has been used in mills and old blacksmith hammerworks of the pre-industrial era.

Schauberger

In recent times, it was Viktor Schauberger, the Austrian inventor and genial observer of nature's ways who first advocated the use of increased water velocity rather than water pressure for the production of hydroelectric power. He obtained a patent for what he termed a jet turbine (Strahlturbine) as early as the year 1930. (1)

The principles used by Schauberger in order to increase water velocity were the jet configuration of the water inlet pipe and the promotion, by spiral ribbings on the inside of the jet, of a vortex motion of the water.

Schauberger's patent actually gives us two very important clues to innovative changes in hydropower technology.

The first one is, that a pipe configured as a funnel or jet will increase the velocity of the water's flow by restricting the space available in which the water may flow. This increase in velocity is especially great if the funnel or jet allows or even encourages the water to form a characteristic flow pattern known as a vortex. This vortex pattern itself has a tendency, quite separate from the jet-effect, to increase the velocity of the water, to decrease its temperature and to augment the water's density.

The second innovation proposed by Schauberger is a revolutionary design of the turbine, obtaining rotation at very high speeds and at the same time avoiding the usual difficulties of cavitation found in normal high speed turbine designs. In fact Schauberger's turbine wheel is of conical shape, with 'ribs' spiralling down the surface of the cone in a corkscrew pattern, and it is located in the center of the jet of water. The corkscrew turbine wheel parts the flow of water, takes up the water's dynamic energy and lets the flow continue without major disruption. Turbines of current design "hack" the water into thousands of destructive counter flows and cross vortices, thus wasting much of the available energy and causing the common problem of cavitation, a super fast corrosion and destruction of turbine blade material.

Here is the description of this new type of turbine as given in Schauberger's patent number 117 749:

"The subject of the invention is a hydropower machine, which utilizes the living energy of a jet of water for the purpose of power generation.

According to the invention, the turbine wheel is a cone with corkscrew-like blades. The cone is aligned with its axis in the direction of the axis of the jet. In this way the jet of water is split and diverted out of its course and thus gives its whole living energy to the spinning cone in a way that, providing the lenght of the cone and the width of its base are in a correct relation to each other and provided the blades are set at the correct angle, these parameters depending on the speed of the water jet, the water will flow out of the machine without agitation.

The illustration is an approximate schematic representation of the invention.

The spinning cone, which is aligned with its axis (1) in the direction of the water jet leaving the jet pipe (2), is made up of blades (3) in the form of a corkscrew.

The ends (4) of these blades (3) are bent somewhat upwards against the direction of the arriving water jet in order to cause a diversion of the jet and to transfer as much as possible of the living energy of the jet to the spinning cone.

On the inside of the jet pipe (2) there are screw-like ribs (5) promoting a spin, which according to actual observations increase the speed of the water jet and the efficiency of the machine.

PATENT CLAIMS:

  • A jet turbine, distinguished by the fact that in the path of the water jet and aligned with its axis so as to split the jet, there is a turbine wheel in the form of a cone, the surface of which is formed of corkscrew-like blades.
  • A jet turbine according to claim 1, distinguished by a jet pipe (2) with ribs (5) slanted in the direction of spin of the turbine wheel."

This patent was applied for in 1926 and granted in 1930. It seems that Schauberger actually used a small turbine of this design in a stream of water near the forest wardens' building during those years, to generate electricity, but no reliable records are available. (2)

Herbrand

Another instance of the use of the dynamic powers of flowing water has been documented by Ludwig Herbrand, a German engineer who as a student in the mid 1930's was called to evaluate and calculate the parameters of some generators and exciter units that had recently been installed in the Rheinfelden power station, as well as to design electrical overload protection and relevant switching mechanisms for these generators. He was also required to compare the generators with those of another power station that had been described in an article of a specialized magazine.

Much to the dismay of the then young and inquisitive engineering student, it seemed that the generators under examination were supplying more electrical energy than they should have, according to accepted theory. One of the generators of the Rheinfelden power plant, with 50 cubic meters of water per second and an altitude differential of only one meter supplied just as much power as a generator in near Ryburg-Schwörstadt, which had a capacity of 250 cubic meters of water per second and an altitude differential from head waters to turbine of 12 meters! (3)

That fact was confirmed by prof. Finzi, the designer of the turbines and generators, saying to young Herbrand:

"Do not worry about this. It is correct. The generator has been working without problems for some time now. Make the calculations backwards and you will see for yourself. We are electrical engineers. Why, those other problems are not ours to solve, we leave them to the water people. We have repeated our measurements and the generator's yield of power is exactly as specified. The only thing is - no one knows about this." (4)

Herbrand was soon drafted into the army and World War II did not allow him to pursue the matter further. Only much later, in the 1970s and 1980s, Herbrand came back to the calculations made for his engineering exams and tried - so far without success - to interest industry and government in this different and more efficient use of hydropower.

Technical facts

I shall attempt to delineate here the technical facts, using calculations that are based on accepted formulas and physical considerations confirmed by actual experiment, to show that with a different approach to hydropower engineering, we could obtain significantly more electrical power than is being extracted from hydro resources today, with simpler machinery and less expenditure, as well as less disturbance to the environment.

As mentioned above, current hydropower engineering works with water pressure, obtained as a result of the altitude differential between head waters and location of the turbine. This pressure, when released through the turbine, results in a momentary acceleration of the water and thus in a certain velocity of the water jet. This velocity is calculated with the formula

v = Sqrt 2 . g . h v being the velocity, g the gravitational acceleration of the earth (9.81 m/sec2) and h the altitude differential measured in meters.

Example: An altitude of 12 m results in a velocity of Sqrt 2 . 9.81 . 12 = 15.3 m/sec.

The progression of velocity in relation to altitude differential is shown in the following table.

head in meters 12 24 36 48 60 72 84 96 108 120
                     
velocity in m/sec 15.3 21.7 26.6 30.7 34.3 37.6 40.6 43.4 46 48.5
                     
                     
head in meters 132 144 156 168 180 192 204 216 228 240
                     
velocity in m/sec 50.9 53.1 55.3 57.4 59.4 61.4 63.3 65.1 66.9 68.6
These values are rendered graphically below.


We see that the curve of velocity at first increases more steeply and then tends to flatten with higher altitude differentials.

Let us now examine the energy output in kilowatt with increasing altitude differential.


The increase of energy output is linear, as shown in the graphic above.

Calculation

The electrical energy that can be obtained from water is calculated on the basis of the velocity of flow and the mass of the water, i.e. magnitude of flow measured in cubic meters per second, according to the formula

E kin = m/2 . v 2 (kw)

An example, assuming a velocity of 25 m/sec and a mass of 5 cubic meters per second:

Strahlturbine

1930 - Strahlturbine Schauberger's patent number 117 749: The subject of the invention is a hydropower machine, which utilizes the living energy of a jet of water for the purpose of power generation. According to the invention, the turbine wheel is a cone with corkscrew-like blades. The cone is aligned with its axis in the direction of the axis of the jet. In this way the jet of water is split and diverted out of its course and thus gives its whole living energy to the spinning cone in a way that, providing the length of the cone and the width of its base are in a correct relation to each othe

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