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Archimedes Screw turbine for generation of Hydroelectricity and uses in

scenario of Nepal
By Sishir Humagain
A turbine especially used to change the form of energy from one form to another. Especially kinetic
energy to Mechanical energy. To be more specific turbine produce rotational motion which further
coupled to the shaft of generator to drive and produce magnetic flux, hence changing of magnetic
flux on generator produces electric current. In this topic we are discussing about such type of
turbine which uses the green energy source i.e. water to the electric energy. Basically we categorize
the turbine as Reaction, Impulse and Gravity. [1] (Energy, 2016) Here we are discussing of
Archimedes turbine which can be can be characterized as an Gravity turbine, which utilizes the
action of the waters weight on the screws blades, which makes it turn. This rotation is transferred
via the gearbox into the generator. [2] (hydro, 2016).
Let us know about brief history of this Archimedes Screw turbine. The Archimedean screw is an
ancient invention, attributed to Archimedes of Syracuse (287212 BC.), and commonly used to
raise water from a watercourse for irrigation purposes. In 1819 the French engineer Claude Louis
Marie Henri Navier (17851836) suggested using the Archimedean screw as a type of water wheel.
In 1922 William Moerscher patented the hydrodynamic screw turbine in America. Traditional use
of the screw has been as a pump. [3] (Wikipedia, 2016).

Fig 1: Schematic diagram of Archimedean screw turbine

Mostly Micro-Hydropower plant are financially acceptable and easy to install without any precise
and highly specific way. The turbine which can operate on low head, less flow and produce
sufficient amount of energy are preferred. With these characteristics Archimedes turbine are
unique. Though the other reaction and impulse turbine falls under the operative features, but we
find this turbine advantageous for less than 400KW power generation. [1] (Energy, 2016)
Lets now becoming more specific as an
engineering aspect, the operating head limit for the
Archimedes turbine is categorized to low head
operation i.e. up to 10m. As we can see on the
above figure with the head of 10m and flow of 8
m3/s can generate approx. 400KW of power. But
according to the manufacturing company KOVOSVIT
MAS , it claim to have 650KW of power generation
with 92% efficiency, head of up to 10m, flow up to
18 m3/s and screw diameter up to 5m. However the
maximum flow rate through an Archimedean screw
is determined by the screw diameter. The smallest
screws are just 1 meter diameter and can pass 250
liters/second, then they increase in 250 mm steps
all of the way up to 5 meters in diameter with a
maximum flow rate of around 14.5 m3/s. The 5
meter maximum is really based on practical
delivery restrictions, and in many cases 3 meters is Fig 2: Comparison of various turbine with
the maximum diameter that can be delivered to a Head vs. Flow diagram
site. If there is more flow available, multiple screws
can be installed in parallel. As if we install this
turbine with parallel installation, the power generation can be achieved up to MW. Now lets
compare the efficiency of the turbine that are mostly prevailed now in market with the below chart.
[2] (hydro, 2016)
Till now we discussed the operational parameter and comparison to other turbine. Now discussing
about its functional design, most Archimedean screws have three flights, or three separate helices
winding around the central core. Water weight is generally assumed enclosed by the screws blades
drives the screw. If no losses are assumed, all potential energy contained in the flow can be
extracted giving such a machine the theoretical maximum efficiency of 100%. However, most of
the water weight in the Archimedean screw rests on the trough, which does not move. Power is
generated by force and velocity, and since the velocity vector of the rotating screw acts tangentially
to the screw, only a small part of the water weight enclosed in the screw (the part which is resting
on the inclined outer section of the blade) contributes to energy conversion.

We can justify from above that Archimedean screw turbine can contribute to micro-hydropower
development. As hydropower energy can be promoted to green energy and renewable energy
source, the use of this turbine makes a best way to achieve and can become milestone for
development of micro-hydro in context of Nepal. Though rivers of Nepal are of high heads and
have large possibility of energy production, but this can be more financially feasible and
environment friendly. Significant price reduction of the construction part of small water power
plant with lower construction time demand, reliable structure, long service life and low
maintenance cost makes financially acceptable. Along with these, the screw can pass smaller
sediments to pass through, so natural sediment structure of river bed is maintained, unlike other
turbine this is non-pressurized operating system which operates at low revolution speed, this allow
most of the fish to travel downstream through the screw without any harm to them along with
upstream travel of fish can be assisted with separate fish ladder and with the quite operation feature
it proves it is an environment friendly too.

Nepal is a land locked country and we have no any other energy generation aspect to which we get
fully dependent so hydropower can be a best primary technique we can adopt. As Nepal has three
ranges of geographical structure, from Mountain, hilly to terai region. Till now production of
hydropower are focused on hilly areas and it facilitates both mountain and terai belt. But
Archimedean turbine is a best alternative to generate hydropower on low head either at mountain
or terai which ends the full dependency of hydropower generation from hilly region. As its
affordability by certain group of people and less civil works required, the installing of one of the
turbine in small channel of river can facilitates up to approx. 500 household. Also small industries
can be benefit and most of the agro-machinery can run continuously promoting the agriculture
production which is essential. Besides these, the energy crisis seen in Nepal on few decades can
be expect to come to an end.

1. Energy, G. B. (2016, august 7). types of Turbine. Retrieved from Green Bug Energy:
2. hydro, M. (2016, august 7). MAS Hydro. Retrieved from Archimedes screw turbine - MAS
3. Wikipedia. (2016, August 7). Screw Turbine. Retrieved from Wikipedia: