HydroVision International 2015 was a ‘wicket’ cool week enjoying liquid gold

Wow! What for some may be just another conference, for me, HydroVision International 2015 (HVI15) was a full-bodied experience.

Prior to HVI15 I was fairly week in understanding the finer points of wicket gates, cavitation and governor operation.

The tour

I was the PennWell Hydro Group representative assigned to administrate the tour at 1,189-MW Bonneville hydroelectric facility. The fine folks at Bonneville made the weightiness of hydro clearer to me.

During the tour I was able to see massive wicket gates in one of the turbines in First Powerhouse where I received a detailed, easy to understand explanation of the gates’ functions and mechanical operations.

The Appleyard chat

In speaking in person about damage done to runners (turbine blades) during a meal with my United Kingdom colleague, David Appleyard, I learned about the completely counter-intuitive function of low pressure as it relates to cavitation. I certainly had no idea of the destructive power or energy related to tiny air bubbles.

For me, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and “The Hunt for Red October” provided my heretofore understanding of cavitation.

At left, David Appleyard discusses his view on hydro during a meal with Amy Shinkle and Michael Harris at HydroVision International 2015 in Portland, Ore.

And then, there are governors

For those of you unfamiliar with my responsibilities for Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide, they include determining inductees into the Hydro Hall of Fame (HoF). Basically, a hydroelectric facility is eligible for the Hydro HoF if it has been in continuous operation for at least 100 years at the time of election consideration.

Newsflash, 100 years is a long time and when wicket gates open and the turbine spins, some part of the system has to keep the unit from spinning out of control. Governors assist in maintaining unit speed control, but if a small facility is 100 years of age, its economics may likely put mechanical governors in play.

I will not get into governor-minutiae here, but I now have a much greater understanding of the issues related to mechanical governors versus digital apparatus.

Considering this was my first HydroVision, I obviously knew all things hydro would be represented. But, I was pleasantly surprised with the way people at all levels of hydro industry were willing to explain their “thing” to me.

While speaking with people during sessions, breaks and social events, if I said it once, I said it a million times — I am not an engineer. Although just about all of my really close friends are engineers or professionals in science-related fields, none of them are related to hydro.

Spending five days speaking with power producers, service providers and civil, mechanical and electrical engineers was a wonderful time to enjoy learning aspects of hydro’s liquid gold.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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