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Voith, Landsvirkjun launch pilot project on hydro turbine cavitation monitoring

Budarhals plant in Iceland
Credit: Voith

Voith and Icelandic national power company Landsvirkjun are embarking on a joint pilot project on cavitation monitoring in hydropower plants.

Voith says it will install an innovative system, an add-on function for its OnCare.Health conditioning monitoring, at the 95-MW Budarhals hydropower plant in Iceland.

The purpose of the new process is to quantify the effects of cavitation to reduce operating and maintenance costs and machine downtimes. Cavitation – the formation and collapse of vapor bubbles that damage the surface of the turbine runner in the long term — is usually avoided by effective design and generally does not occur within the normal operating range. Due to the increasing requirements to make existing plants more flexible in conjunction with other renewable energies such as wind power, it is becoming worthwhile for operators to extend their operating range. But this can cause cavitation to occur. With the help of the monitoring system, the incidence of cavitation in the event of an extended operating range can be evaluated against the additional benefit provided.

In 2014, Voith equipped the new Budarhals plant with two environmentally compatible Kaplan turbines featuring water-filled runner hubs and generators with specially developed excitation systems. Voith also supplied the crane systems for the powerhouse and the control systems for the power plant. Since then, Voith has also installed other digital solutions and technologies in the plant.

The highly automated Budarhals power plant is in a remote location and is unmanned, so any undetected problems can cause severe damage to equipment. To prevent this, Voith installed its OnCare.Acoustic system, which helps the operator to identify potentially dangerous incidents early on by detecting acoustic anomalies.

The Voith Group is a global technology company that works in the energy, oil and gas, paper, raw materials, and transport and automotive markets. Voith Hydro Division is part of the Voith Group and develops customized long-term solutions and services for large and small hydropower plants all over the world.