You are on page 1of 3

Surge Tank

Surge is the instantaneous rise in pressure due to sudden partial or


complete closure of valve on the downstream end of a long pipeline. Surge
tanks are generally built as a part of hydroelectric plant. In a long pipeline
(Penstock), conveying water from a reservoir to the turbines, there will be
sudden fluctuations in the discharge at the outlet of the pipeline with the
varying load on the generator coupled to the turbine. There will be need for
the generator speed to be cut down suddenly due to decrease in load which
in turn decreases the discharge. This affects over a long pipeline
instantaneously increasing the pressure at the outlet, thereby bursting the
pipe. If there is an open tank whose level is kept well above the supply
reservoir, located closer to the outlet, it can temporarily accommodate the
additional supply of water coming from both the reservoir and the
backwater from the control valve.
Similarly, there will be need for the generator speed to be increased
suddenly due to increase in the load which in turn increases the discharge.
This additional supply of discharge which has to be obtained from the
reservoir in turn immediately increases the flow velocity in the pipeline
thereby decreasing the pressure. This results in crushing of t he pipe as the
external pressure is far more than the internal pressure. The surge tank if
provided can augment the supply of water due to sudden increase in
discharge temporarily and prevent the damage to the pipeline.
The surge tank is an open topped large chamber provided so as to
communicate freely with the pipe line bringing water from the reservoir.
The upper lip of the surge tank is situated at a suitable height above the
maximum water level in the reservoir. When the turbine is working under
steady load and the flow through the pipe is uniform there will be a normal
pressure gradient OE. The water level in the surge tank will be lower than
that in the reservoir by GE which represents the loss of head in the pipe
line due to friction. If now the rate of flow in the pipe line is suddenly
decreased, there will be a sudden pressure rise and this will result in a

Dr. M.N. Shesha Prakash, Professor, JNNCE, Shimoga

sudden rise in the water level in the surge tank so that the hydraulic
gradient is now along OF. In this situation, the water level in the surge
tank will be higher than that in the reservoir. This condition prevails only
for a short duration. The surge tank acts as an auxiliary storage reservoir
Normal
HGL

HGL for
rapidly
decreased
flow

F
G
E

HGL for
increased
flow

Surge
Tank

Penstoc
k

SURGE TANK
C
to collect the flow down the pipe when the flow through the pipe is
reduced or stopped. The excess water is accumulated in the surge tank.
This arrangement eliminates the instantaneous expansion of the pipe line
and thus prevents pipe bursting. Similarly, due to increased flow condition
during excess of water requirement will result in a sudden decrease in the
water level in the surge tank so that the hydraulic gradient is now along
OD.
Other Types of Surge Tanks, Besides the simple cylindrical surge
tank, other types are also adopted.
(i) Conical surge tank (ii) Surge tank with internal bell-mouthed spillway
(iii) Differential surge tank
Fig. a shows a conical surge tank which is similar to the simple surge tank
described earlier, except in this case the tank has a conical shape.

Dr. M.N. Shesha Prakash, Professor, JNNCE, Shimoga

Fig. b shows a surge tank provided with internal bell -mouthed spill way.
This arrangement allows the overflow to be conveniently disposed of.
Fig. c shows a differential surge tank. This has the advantage that for the
same stabilising effect its size can be very much less than that of the
ordinary surge tank. Inside the surge tank there is a riser pipe provided
with ports at its bottom. When there is an increase in pressure in the pipe,
some small quantity of water enters the surge tank through these ports but
the major bulk of the incoming flow mounts to the top of the riser and th en
spills over into the tank. Thus this provides a substantial retarding head
while in the ordinary surge tank the head only builds up gradually as the
tank gets filled- It may further be realized that the water is not allowed to
waste in the differential tank

(a) Conical Surge tank

(b) Surge tank with internal


bell-mouthed spillway

Riser

Ports

(c) Differential Surge tank

Dr. M.N. Shesha Prakash, Professor, JNNCE, Shimoga