Canada’s Hydro Tech solves bearing problems at Africa hydro project

Hydro Tech, Inc. and the Volta River Authority of Ghana, Africa, have completed the installation of two of six custom-designed thrust bearings at Ghana’s 1,020-MW Akosombo Generating Station, Hydro Tech announced.

Hydro Tech provides services for medium to large hydroelectric generating companies, including maintenance, troubleshooting, efficiency and reliability upgrades and other services.

The Volta River Authority selected Hydro Tech to find a solution to recurring thrust bearing problems at the Akosombo facility.

The station had been experiencing thrust bearing damages that had, in some cases, caused bearing failure. The bearing failures were attributed to turbine runner upgrades which had increased the loading on the thrust bearings, causing the original bearings to deteriorate.

Hydro Tech developed and supplied a bearing better suited for the Akosombo facility application that could provide a solution to the generating station’s problems.

The new bearing has eighteen spring-supported PTFE bearing pads, with each pad consisting of a PTFE surface with steel backing plate supported by a bed of precision manufactured thrust springs. The bearing pads were designed and supplied by EnEnergo of Russia.

The thrust runner plate is divided into four segments, which are supported by a thrust block and held in place with radial keys and eight vertical bolts that secure the runner plate to the thrust block.

The runner plate segments are bolted and keyed together and machined to provide a smooth and polished surface.

Hydro Tech reported that the new bearing design has reduced the operating temperature (to ambient) by up to 30 percent while increasing thrust load capacity by more than 70 percent. The new bearing supports 1,132 tons of thrust load, Hydro Tech reported.

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