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CHINESE JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Vol. xx, No. xx, 2016

www.springerlink.com; www.cjmenet.com

Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance prediction for micro
hydropower schemes: A review

LI Fengchen1, BINAMA Maxime1, SU Wentao1,*, LI Xiaobin1,*, and ZHAO Yue2


1
School of Energy Science and Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150001, China
2
State key laboratory of hydropower equipment, Harbin Institute of Large Electric Machinery, Harbin 150040, China

Abstract: Energy is unarguably the key factor for todays economic and social development within nations. Electricity as one of many energy
forms is a critical input to developing countries in the struggle to the national self-satisfaction in all domains. Rural electricity supply involved
institutions have recently recommended the pump as turbine (PAT)-based micro hydropower plant (MHP) schemes for remote off-grid
electrification, mostly from their economic advantages. However, from different published research findings, PAT-based MHP is not only simple
and economically feasible, but has presented bottlenecks in the move to its full understanding. Moreover, compared to other clean energy
technologies, PAT technology has not found much literature in academic published researches, thus contributing to its limited understanding within
the community. Therefore, the PAT literature availability is one way to level up its understanding, which can be helpful to academic and
professional communities. In the present study, a literature review on the two most challenging PAT aspects, namely pump-turbine selection and
performance prediction, is presented; where a summary about energy sources history leading to the actual MHP global adoption was first presented.
Keywords: Renewable energy, Micro-hydropower, Pump as turbine, Pump selection, Performance prediction.

According to the International Energy Agency, 1.4 billion


people worldwide have no access to electricity[6], Sub-Sahara
1. Introduction African region being the worst hit, yet the region is endowed
Energy is unarguably the key factor for todays economic and with several resources from which modern forms of energy can
social development within nations. The provision of reliable, be generated, for example hydropower [7]. Nevertheless, as far
secure and affordable energy services is central to addressing as electricity is concerned, hydropower is the most important
many of todays global development challenges[1]. Electricity renewable contribution to the primary energy supply mix. It
as one of many energy forms is a critical input to developing represents more than 92% of all worldwide renewable energy
countries in the struggle to the national self-satisfaction in all generated, and it continues to stand as the most important
domains. Being a secondary source of energy, electricity can be renewable energy source [8]. Hydropower is a renewable energy
obtained through the conversion of primary sources of energy, source based on the natural water cycle, and actually the most
such as fossil fuels, nuclear energy or green energy [2]. From the mature, reliable and cost-effective renewable power generation
early age, mankind require electrical energy to fulfil their needs technology available[9]. It contributes to around 16% of the
such as lighting their houses, running industrial processes, World electricity supply generated from about 20,053 TWh of
heating and cooling for comfort, communication and numerous installed capacity [10]. While large hydropower plants feed the
others [3]. However, both the demographic growth and the national grid, typical off-grid micro hydropower plant (MHP) is
socio-economic development that took place during the last the most popular solution for electrification among rural
century have led to a continuous increase in electricity demand. communities which supplies power in the range of 5100 kW,
These two events caused an augmentation of the yearly total usually using a run-of-the-river to divert some of the water from
world electricity generation in the period 1973-2008, which the river before dropping into a pressurized penstock [11]. The
increased from 6116 TWh/year to 20181 TWh/year [4]. main components that comprise typical MHP schemes are
Despite this demonstrable increase in world electrical energy electromechanical equipment, civil structures, and energy
production, there is still shortage of electricity supply and other distribution systems [12], the turbine being one of the critical
forms of modern energy in most of the developing countries [5]. technological components of the MHP project [5]. Small and

*
Corresponding author: email: suwentao@hit.edu.cn, lixb@hit.edu.cn.
Supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China
(51606050, 51506037, 71390522), Foundation for Innovative Research
Groups of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51421063),
and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (HIT.NSRIF.2017047)
CHINESE JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

micro hydropower installations have, historically, been cheap to schooled engineers, scientists or policy makers. He also added
run but expensive to build. This is now changing, with smaller, that one of the easily confused things is equating small to
lighter and more efficient higher-speed turbine equipment [13]. simple, as it mostly results in a backfire.
The mostly met problem in micro turbines is their higher price
compared to full scale ones with respect to the whole project Table 1. PAT installations
budget, owing to their expensive manufacturing price. For Location Capacity Year
instance, its very difficult, time-consuming, and costly to Sainyabuli Province, Laos [27] 2 KW 2008
develop such site-specific turbines in accordance with the local Thima Kenya [30] 2.2 KW 2001
Mae Wei village, Thailand [31] 3 KW 2008
ecology [14]. The cost of electro-mechanical components in West Java, Indonesia [32] 4.5 KW 1992
large hydro-power plants is around 20% but in MHPs it is Kinko village, Tanzania [33] 10 KW 2006
relatively high and varies from 35% to 40% of the total project Fazenda Boa Esperanca, Brazil[34] 45 KW 2007
Ambotia Micro-hydro project, India[29] 50 KW 2004
cost which may rise even up to 60% to 70% of the total project British Columbia, Canada [35] 200 KW -
cost in some typical cases [15]. Therefore, a better solution to Vysni Lhoty, Czech Republic [36] 332 KW 2008
this issue would be finding cheaper electro-mechanical
equipment but considering three fundamental conditions, viz. Taking from these grounds, the present paper, through a big
simplicity, efficiency, and reliability. One way to reduce the number of published literatures survey, seeks to serve as
equipment cost has been the use of a standard pump unit as an awareness about the mostly met techno-scientific problems in
alternative to a conventional turbine [16-19]. Pumps are mass- pump turbines daily operations; namely pump selection and
produced, and as a result, have different advantages for MHP performance prediction. This is done in the sense of scaling up
compared to purpose-made turbines, viz. availability in large the knowledge and know-how in the same field, which may be
number of standard sizes for a wide range of heads and flows[16- helpful to different institutions; be it academic or professional.
18], short delivery time [18-22], long life span [19-23] and easy
installation and availability of spare parts such as seals and
2. Pump-turbine selection
bearings [16-18]. The first pump turbine had been set at a remote Typical micro hydropower plants convert the falling water-
farm in the Yorkshire Dales of the North England in 1930. This contained energy to mechanical energy by turning the pump
scheme has been working for a five year testing time, after which turbine, which converts the water pressure into mechanical shaft
its reliability was confirmed before being transferred to other power to drive an electricity generator. The power available (P)
countries [16]. From then on, pump turbine has become a hot is proportional to the product of head (H) and volume flow rate
topic amongst researchers and field engineers, where indeed, it (Q) as the general formula for hydropower systems shows [37]
has been used at so many sites, mainly for electricity provision (equation 1). It can then be seen that the turbine selection process
in remote hilly regions away from central grid reach (Table 1). for a MHP of interest, should be based on the head and flowrate
Different researchers; Williams[16], Orchard and Sander[24], available at the site. Nevertheless, the power output may also be
Ramos and Borga [25], Derakhshan and Ahmad [26], and related to the head to express the turbine specific speed (NS).
Arriaga [27] among others, have provided information about the
applications and advantages of pump working as turbine, mainly P gQH
basing their arguments on its two most important features: cost-
nP1/2 (1)
effectiveness and simplicity. Adding on the third one, N S 5/4
smallness, which is also true in a way; PATs simple structural H
design would reflect its easily understandable operations.
This parameter characterizes the turbine runner, spiral casing,
However, owing to the philosophy behind the pumps
blade shape and other geometric design features, thus doesnt
functioning difference between conventional and reverse modes,
depend on the size but the shape of the machine of concern [14].
pump turbines flow dynamics and characteristics have not been
For instance two machines of similar shape and different size
fully understood, thus requiring more research efforts in the
may have same specific speed. One of the biggest difficulties in
same. As a matter of fact, many researchers have tried different
micro hydropower technology is to adapt the equipment to the
PAT efficiency prediction methods but in vain, as the predicted
specificity of the plant [38]. For instance, as much the PAT can
results never got validated through experimentation, with errors
be having many advantages compared to purpose-made turbines,
of the order of 20% [28], and couldnt cover a wide range of
the main drawback in its usage is generally the difficulty of
pump operating conditions in reverse mode. Though the reasons
finding the turbine characteristics that are needed to select the
for these failures are somewhat controversial, Singh[29] through
correct pump for a particular site [16]. The adequate selection of
his theory Small is beautiful but not simple, emphasized that
the PAT has been a big challenge in the past decades, where
one of the foremost causes is that these technologies are
different aspects need a close attention, viz. available head range,
considered easy and simple which do not need competence of
Maxime B. et Al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance prediction
for micro hydropower schemes: A review

capacity range, back pressure at the turbine outlet, desired speed, The main weaknesses of simple PATs are generally the inability
etc. [14, 39]. For the PAT based MHP cost effectiveness goal to to control the flow as they are not provided with flow control
be achieved, an optimum operational design, smart selection of facilities (guide vanes), and the poor performance at off-design
the equipment and reduced professional consultation must be operating conditions, viz. part and over flow conditions.
implemented to lower the overall cost [40-42]. Nevertheless, for Therefore, they only can work efficiently at a short range of
the optimum PAT selection at a particular site, there is a discharges close to the full load (80% to 100%).
fundamental need of basic information about the head and
discharge available at the site, but most importantly, the
expected PAT performance characteristics, which in fact, are
two key-factors to the PAT selection validity. However, the lack
of PAT performance data is always stated as one of the
significant challenges in the design of PAT for MHP sites [43].
Different researchers; Orchard and Sander [24], Franc et al. [44],
Chapallaz et al. [45], Fraenkel et al. [46] and Paish [37] among
others, have so far provided head-flow charts depicting the range
of application for different PATs (Fig. 1.a). It was generally
concluded that multistage radial flow PATs fit sites with high
heads-low flow rates, whereas axial flow ones perform well at
low head-high flow rates sites. However, the use of single stage (a) Head-flowrate selection chart [40]
end suction centrifugal PATs from low to medium heads, has
also been recommended by many of researchers [26, 39, 47-53].
PAT selection can also be carried out through a head-specific
Head (m)

speed chart. Avelan [54] has presented a head-specific speed


chart for Francis-type reversible pump turbines, where the PAT
geometric design plays the key role in the classification process.
PATs with narrow impeller channels at the runner inlet are
characterized by high heads-low specific speeds, while PATs
with wider impeller channels at the runner inlet are characterized
Specific speed (-)
by low heads-high specific speeds (Fig. 1.b). Kaunda et al. [5]
has presented the systematic process of selecting the optimum (b) Head-specific speed selection chart [41]
turbine according to the site conditions, where both the
Fig. 1. Head-flow charts for hydro turbines
importance of head-volumetric flowrate chart and the turbine
specific speed were recognized (Fig. 2), and different factors However, MHPs are often required to work at off design
which can assist in pump selection decision making, viz. conditions, mainly from seasonal flow variations. In this case,
investment cost of the turbine, turbine design complexity, unit the site flow rate can pass or go below the maximum plant
power generation cost, and the turbine performance, were capacity in rainy or dry seasons respectively. To take care of this
discussed as well. The field applications of multistage, single issue, the site flow should be recorded on the whole year, so that
impeller centrifugal and axial flow pumps can be compared with PAT selection can be performed based on the lowest annual flow
Pelton, Francis and Kaplan turbines respectively [55]. record. Another alternative would be running many PATs in
According to Lueneburg and Nelson [39] and Sharma[56], all parallel to take care of the off design flow conditions. This
centrifugal pumps from low to high specific speed, single or method would be more profitable as PATs can be switched on
multistage, radially or axially split, horizontal or vertical and off depending on the site available flow [57], however,
installations, in-line and double suction can be used in reverse needing more attention so that the MHP cost-effectiveness goal
mode. However, some pump types cant find their use in this remains uncompromised. In this respect, different researchers,
field because of, for some their operating characteristics, others such as Singh [29], Spangler [58], Fraser et al. [59],
their design features. For instance, self-priming and wet-motor Nicholas[60], and Hochreutiner [61], have come out with a
submersible bore hole pumps cant be reversed because of the range of number of PATs ranging from 3 to 7, which when
presence of a non-return valve. Dry-motor submersible pumps operated in parallel would be more efficient than a single
also cant be used mainly because of their over-heating issue.
CHINESE JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Fig. 2. Turbine selection flow chart for micro hydropower schemes [5]

conventional turbine of a comparable capacity. The last completely reliable solution to the problem as their results were
technic to be presented in this paper is the siphon intake way erroneous as compared to field test results.
method as presented by Williams [28]. This method is used in Therefore they may only be used to get a rough picture of the
low flow cases, where the flow is accumulated and stored in a required PAT characteristics, which need validation adjustment
reservoir in order to release the full flow to the PAT by experimental methods. Selected PAT performance researches
intermittently, thus producing an intermittent power. This and findings have been chronologically presented by Jain et al.
method is not convenient to engineering applications requiring [14] as shown in Table 2. To some authors, e.g., Fraser [59],
continuous energy supply, but it can serve for different basic Garay [69], and Sharma [65] among others, pump mode-based
operations like heating and battery charging. prediction methods are reliable, but may need some corrections
in particular cases. To some others, e.g., Burton and Mulugeta
3. Pump-turbine performance prediction [70], Chaudry [71], and Ventrone and Navarro [72] to mention
about, these methods are solely unreliable, but recognize the
PAT is an economical alternative for small and micro-hydro pump geometry as the most fundamental parameter to base on
schemes in remote areas. A pump in reverse can generally handle PAT performance predictions, as pump manufacturers dont
comparatively higher flow rates, which in turn may implicate necessarily provide universally standardized pumps. It is said
higher output energy ranges [62]. However, due to the fact that that two pumps of same BEP may sometimes have different
the pump manufacturers do not offer performance curves of their performance in their turbine-mode operations.
pumps in turbine mode; the selection of a suitable pump turbine As a matter of fact, a comparatively small number of
to run under site-specific operation conditions has become a big researchers have rather opted on using the pump geometrical
challenge [14]. design and other hydraulic phenomena to end up with more
A large number of theoretical and experimental studies have accurate technics. However, due to their complexity, these
been done for performance prediction of reverse running methods were generally not preferred. Away from the researches
centrifugal pumps[48]. The pump mode-based prediction which was carried out in the early age of PAT discovery, PAT
technic is the easiest way as it only requires the user to have has remained a hot research topic among professional and
access to the pump performance basic information such as the academic communities, where intensive theoretical,
flow rate , head and the efficiency , which in turn make experimental and computational studies have eventually resulted
it easy to find correspondent turbine mode performance in a big literature about PAT performance prediction, as
parameters through simple calculations. Therefore, theoretical described in the following section.
researches were mainly based on pump mode performance
parameters where the head and flow correction factors play a key
3.1. Theoretical studies
role in PAT performance prediction. Many researchers, e.g.,
Stepanoff [63], Childs [64], Sharma [65], among others, have
Pump turbines are a cost-effective alternative for micro-hydro
developed PAT performance prediction relations based on pump
schemes at remote areas. Different researchers have
best efficiency point (BEP) whereas others such as
continuously carried out theoretical, numerical, and
Gopalakrishnan [66], Diederich [67], and Grover [68] have
experimental studies or sometimes a combination of some of
developed their relations basing on the pump specific speed.
these methods, to come out with a universal PAT performance
However, theoretical prediction methods have not provided a
prediction method.
Maxime B. et Al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance prediction
for micro hydropower schemes: A review

Table 2. Performance prediction methods for pump-turbines

Year Researcher Criteria Head correction(h) Discharge correction factor (q) Remarks
1 1
1957 Stepanoff [63] BEP Accurate for Ns: 40-60

1 1
1962 Childs [64] BEP -

1 1
1963 Hanckock [73] BEP -

1980 Grover [68] Specific speed 2.693 0.0229 2.379 0.0264 Applied for Ns: 10-50
6 1.6
1982 Hergt (in [74]) Specific speed 1.3 1.3 -
3 5
1 1
1985 Sharma [65] BEP Accurate for Ns: 40-60
1.2 0.8
2.5 2.4
1988 Schmiedl [75] BEP 1.4 + 1.5 + 2 -

1 0.855 + 0.385
1994 Alatorre-Frenk [57] BEP -
0.855 + 0.385 29.5 + 0.205
2 1.1 1.1
1998 Sharma [56] BEP [ ] 1.2 = 240
0.8

A considerable number of published theoretical methods were experimental test-rig was constructed as in[55], and
based either on pump mode performance parameters or pump experimental results were compared to both theoretical and
geometric design. This subsection comprises pure theoretical numerical predictions. Theoretical methods predicted values
researches and their combination with other methods. Hossain et were found slightly lower than experimental data with 1.1%,
al. [76] carried out a comparative study between two mostly used 4.7%, 5.25%, and 2.1% deviation for discharge (), Head (),
theoretical PAT performance prediction methods (Chapallaz et Power (), and efficiency () numbers respectively. CFD results
al. [45] and Sharma [65] methods) to get an idea which is better were in good agreement with experimental results in pump mode,
than the others. Pump hydraulic characteristics were first found but much lower in turbine mode. Yang et al. [79] carried out a
through an experiment session on a 4hp DC powered motor PAT performance prediction study in which three methods, viz.
pump at a 2900 rpm rotational speed. The experimental results theoretical, numerical, and experimental methods, were used. A
were used to get PAT performance characteristics, power, and pump mode-based theoretical prediction method was developed,
output electrical energy, through the two above mentioned the results of which got compared with other theoretical,
methods. The study, through a comparative scheme, concluded numerical and experimental methods. Numerical simulations on
that Sharma method could only predict the PAT BEP and power both modes (reverse and direct operating modes) were
whereas Chapallaz et al. method gave a wide range of operating performed by ANSYS-CFX which is a commercial 3D Navier-
points from minimum to maximum deviation, thus providing the stokes CFD software. The selected turbulence model was k-,
access to the information about PAT operation at and away from where the flow domain was subdivided into four parts, viz. inlet
BEP. Chapallaz et al. method was found to provide more clear pipe, volute, impeller, front and back chambers to facilitate the
understanding of the PAT performance characteristics. gridding process by ANSYS ICEM. Comparing experimental
Derakhshan et al. [26] have compared three PAT performance results as tested by a Jiangsu University-based test rig, with
prediction methods, viz. Area ratio a theoretical method numerical, theoretical and other prediction methods results; CFD
developed by Gantar [77] and Anderson [78], numerical, and results were found in good agreement with its two modes
experimental methods. Theoretical and numerical prediction experimental data, whereas a slight difference between
results were compared to experimental ones to get an idea which experimental and numerical results was noticed. The theoretical
one predicts well the PAT performance characteristics (at BEP). and CFD methods were more accurate than the other two
The pump two operational modes (direct and reverse modes) methods (Sharma [65] and Stepanoff [63] methods), as shown in
numerical simulation was performed through FineTurbo V.7 Fig. 3 and Table 3. Williams [50] carried out a comparative
flow solver, where 3D full Navier-Stokes equations were solved; study of eight different prediction methods on 35 pumps with
the results of which, helped on the pump complete specific speeds ranging from 12.7 to 183.3, where the main
characteristics curve construction for both modes. An research focus was the impact of performance prediction
CHINESE JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

methods errors (deviation between predicted and actual BEP Table 3. BEP predictions by various methods
values) on PAT operations. Every methods credibility was
Exp. Num. Theor. Sharma Stepanoff
evaluated through a British standard-based prediction
h 1.89 2.00 1.99 1.74 1.58
coefficient C, for which acceptable errors were supposed to be
q 1.66 1.70 1.55 1.45 1.26
equal or inferior to a unity. Error h (%) - +5.3 +5.3 -7.9 -16.4
Error q (%) - -2.4 -6.6 -12.7 -24.1
2 2
2 a b
C
0.3 0.1 Carravetta et al. [80] proposed the turbomachinery affinity
1 laws modification scheme to eliminate the big discrepancy
With : a q h (2) between PAT performance theoretical and experimental
2


prediction methods. In order to obtain the PAT BEP
1
b q 2 h2 2hq characteristics at a speed ( ), the usual
2
turbomachinery affinity laws were transformed to functions of
the ratio ( ) as follows:
The C value was calculated from an H-Q curve, for which the
center coincided with the manufacturer-provided BEP. It was
Q N H B
found that none of all evaluated methods was reliable; however, q f 1 MAX h f 2 NMAX
Q MAX N HBMAX
N
Sharma method presented better performance than others, thus B
(3)

being the most recommended method. It was also suggested that P N B N
p B f 3 MAX f 4 MAX
theoretical prediction methods should be accompanied with P MAX
B N MAX
B N
experimental ones for their validity confirmation during PAT
installation. Functions 1 , 2 , 3 and 4 were obtained from experimental
results on several submersible pumps operated at different
speeds. Using Suter parameters in conjunction with the obtained
modified affinity laws, the decrease of scatter between the
calculated and measured values was achieved. Ramos and Borga
[25] carried out a Suter parameters-based steady and transient
flow regimes study aiming at proving the pump physical,
economical and technical reliability not only in industrial
processes but also in power generation sector. It was confirmed
that using PATs is a good alternative to dissipation of excess
flow energy that, normally would be lost. The study outcomes
also showed that, depending on runner characteristics, PATs
efficiency can attain 80%. Induced motors were recommended
for large electric grids, and synchronous motors for isolated
(a) operations. For whatever case, PAT was globally found to be the
best economic solution.

3.2. Experimental studies

Raman et al. [81] carried out an experimental study aiming at


a better understanding of PAT characteristics. A centrifugal
pump with 15.36, 22m, and 8.31 l/s as specific speed, head, and
flow rate respectively, was tested in a test rig as installed in the
Mechanical Engineering Laboratory of the Universiti Tenaga
Nasional. The pump selection process was performed following
a reconnaissance technic as presented by Raman and Hussein
[82]; thereafter, the experimental results were compared to other
(b) previously published researches. The experiment findings were
approximately similar to other methods; although, the specific
Fig. 3. Comparison between Pump (a) and PAT (b) experimental speed and efficiency values were slightly lower. The pump
and numerical results
Maxime B. et Al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance prediction
for micro hydropower schemes: A review

operation in turbine mode was found to require high heads and results on many pumps of different shapes (20-80rpm), mainly
flows compared to the direct mode. It was confirmed that a targeting its parsimony on PAT performance prediction,
centrifugal pump can satisfactorily be operated as turbine selection , and evaluation, which are its three main segments; in
without any mechanical problems. Singh et al. [83] studied the order to find a lasting solution for PATs modelling and establish
effect of casing eye ribs on the pump turbine hydraulics and a new basis of evaluating uncertainties, based on fundamental
performance characteristics. Two pump models, casing rib theory of turbomachines. The prediction segment required the
absent (CRA) and casing rib present (CRP), were both pump shape and size to come out with complete PAT
numerically and experimentally studied; where commercially performance characteristics. The selection segment required
available software, CFX, for which the K- turbulence model only the site head and flow data to determine the suitable pumps
was selected, was used for simulations. The PAT flow for specific sites. And finally, the evaluation segment compared
experimental and numerical analysis was comparatively carried the selected pumps and their characteristics to decide the most
out for two operating modes, CRA and CRP, at six operating suitable PAT for specific operating conditions. The developed
points, namely, A (51%QBEP), B (70%QBEP), C (88%QBEP), D consolidated model, from obtained test results and related
(100%QBEP), and E (116%QBEP), constituting the part, full, and analysis, through many modelling acrobatics, contributed to the
over loads. The study results from both methods showed that economic feature, needing a small number of parameters to give
CRA had higher efficiency and greater performance for the part- the complete and accurate PAT predictions. Yang et al. [85]
load and overload operations as compared to CRP. A satisfactory studied the influence of rotational speed to the PAT performance.
similitude was noticed between experimental and numerical In this paper, a rotational speed-based theoretical PAT
results, where the PAT exhibited good performance with 82% as performance prediction method was first developed where new
the highest attained efficiency. Nautiyal et al. [48] carried out correlation equations for flow rate, head, and shaft power; were
an experimental study on PAT performance characteristics in the developed as shown:
hope to come out with a more accurate prediction method. The
test results on a pump of 18( , 3 ) as specific speed, Q1 n1 H 1 n1
2
P1 n1
3

(4)
running at 1500rpm, confirmed that, as it had been demonstrated Q2 n2 H 2 n 2 P 2 n 2
by many other researchers, the centrifugal pump can surely be
used as turbine under various operating conditions, where the Where the subscripts 1 and 2 stand for first and next operating
turbine operating mode is always characterized by higher flow conditions in terms of speed. Experiments were carried out on a
rates and heads but with comparatively lower efficiencies. Jiangsu University based-test rig at different rotational speeds,
Together with four other pump models from different viz. 1000rpm, 1200rpm, 1500rpm, and 1800rpm. And finally,
researchers, the tested pump was farther analyzed to come up the PAT model was numerically analyzed. The numerical study
with a new prediction method based on both pump efficiency was performed by a CFD commercial code Ansys CFX, where
and specific speed. Compared to other prediction methods, the the k- turbulence model was adopted, and static pressure inlet
developed method presented better performance, with and mass flow rate outlet were selected as inlet and outlet
comparatively reduced errors (as compared to test results), thus boundary conditions respectively. Test, numerical, and
making it the best. Derakhshan and Nourbakhsh [55], based on theoretical results were in a quite acceptable agreement.
experimental results as performed on a mini-hydropower test rig However numerically predicted efficiency, head, shaft power
at the University of Tehran, has developed new correlation values tended to be slightly higher than test ones by 4.85%,
equations for PAT BEP prediction. Four centrifugal pumps in 2.31%, 5.39% respectively. Nevertheless, theoretical results
specific speeds range from 14.6 to 55.6 (m,m3/s) were tested, were higher than the two first, where wider deviation was found
where centrifugal pumps were again found to fit the turbine in Shaft power predictions. The developed theoretical method
operating conditions with comparatively higher heads and flows was found reliable but needing some perfections to get even
and approximately equal efficiencies. The newly developed better results.
specific speed-based prediction method was compared to many
others, to only find it exhibited better and acceptable estimates
3.3. Numerical studies
of flow rate and head for pumps with specific speeds higher than
60 (m,m3/s). It was also demonstrated that between two pumps
Many researchers have shown that CFD analysis is a reliable tool
with same specific speed, the one with bigger impeller diameter
to predict the behavior of a pump machine operating as a turbine
has higher efficiency. Also the higher the flow and head they
and to estimate the performance curves of the
exhibit, the more efficient they become. A better PAT selection
turbomachinery[86]. With CFD, complex fluid flow behaviors
procedure for a specific site was also proposed. Singh and Franz
inside the PAT can be virtually previewed, which can
[84] developed a new consolidated model from experimental
CHINESE JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

substantially reduce both the design time and cost. A big number performance prediction. Rawal and Kshirsagar [90] carried out
of studies have been carried out aiming at PAT flow a study through both numerical and experimental methods on a
characteristics understanding and performance prediction. mixed flow pump with the objective of analyzing the accuracy
Ismail et al. [87] tested an end suction centrifugal pump by of computational tools for PAT studies. The PAT flow was first
means of CFD simulations to determine its performance numerically studied at five different flows, viz. 60%, 80%, 100%,
characteristics in both direct and reverse modes. The CFD 120%, and 140% of the BEP flow at a rotational speed of
modelling and simulations were performed by Ansys CFX14.0, 1450rpm. The k- turbulence model was adopted, where the
where the K- was selected for flow turbulence modelling in a chosen inlet and outlet boundary conditions were total pressure
pump of 70 units (Euroflo EU50-20) as specific speed and in and flow rate out, respectively. The experimental part was run
working at a rotational speed of 1450rpm. The computational at a test facility based at a major University in Karlsruhe,
domain was divided into three parts, viz. volute, impeller and German. The single stage mixed flow pump with four mixed
draft tube; where inlet and outlet boundary conditions were set flow vanes was tested at three different speeds, viz. 800rpm,
to mass flow rate inlet and static pressure out respectively. 900rpm, and 1000rpm, under flows ranging from no load to
However, the reverse mode simulations had to be run at 1550 maximum load. The agreement between computational and test
rpm in accordance with the used induction generators speed. results has been satisfactory. The numerical approach served in
The flow simulations were then run at flows varying from 0.7 to the identification of losses in PATs different parts, and it was
1.3 QBEP. After comparing both modes CFD predicted results suggested that the use of finer mesh, better numerical methods
to pump manufacture-provided ones, it was observed that BEP and turbulence models, could improve on the numerical results
was attained at higher flows and heads in turbine than pump accuracy. Barrio et al. [91] presented a numerical study on a
mode. However efficiency was found higher in pump mode centrifugal pump with twisted backwards curved blades in both
(72.63% against 71.62%). Numerical simulation method was direct and reverse operating modes, aiming at the investigation
confirmed viable for PAT performance prediction. Pascoa et al. of global flow characteristics within the machine at different
[88] carried out a numerical study on a centrifugal pump to check flow rates. A CFD commercial code Ansys Fluent was used
the validity of three randomly selected theoretical correlation together with k- turbulence model to solve the full unsteady
methods, viz. stepanoff, Sharma, and Viana methods. In this RANS equations, with total pressure in variable static pressure
study, through a CFD commercial code Ansys Fluent, the flow out and constant total pressure in constant pressure out, as
in a NNJ125-250 pump was modelled, where Reynolds boundary conditions in pump and turbine mode respectively.
Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) equations were solved through After comparison between numerical and experimental results,
Spalart-Allmaras turbulence model. PISO algorithm was used an agreement between both was quite satisfactory with
for pressure-velocity coupling and stagnation pressure in and maximum errors less than 4%. However flow recirculation and
static pressure out were chosen for inlet and outlet boundary backflow regions were noticed at off-design flow rates in the
conditions respectively. Theoretical results were compared to reverse operating mode. Jovanovi et al. [92] presented a
computational ones, where an acceptable agreement was finally comparative study between numerical and experimental results
noticed between both. A new approach for PAT power plant on a centrifugal pump running in both reverse and direct modes.
design was also developed; where at each constant head, it was In this paper, different PAT usages and performance prediction
now possible and easy to know the most efficient PAT rotational methods were discussed. From its different advantages over
speed. All computational results in this paper were achieved other mostly used methods, namely theoretical and experimental
through a frozen rotor approach. Nautiyal et al. [89] presented a methods, CFD method was confirmed very effective for PAT
review of some already published works on PAT performance flow studies. An example computational case-study was run
prediction through CFD. It was shown that CFD usage in the through Ansys CFX commercial code, together with K-
area of turbomachines has seen extensive growth in recent turbulence model for both modes, where extracted results were
decades. Generally manufacturers dont provide performance compared to collected experimental ones. Different frequently
and flow characteristics of their pumps in turbine mode; so CFD met problems in computational method usage were pointed out
has been a recent attempt for PAT performance prediction. It was as well as their respective way outs. There was a good agreement
mentioned that CFD made it possible to identify losses in between test and numerical results with comparatively small
different parts of PAT. However, there have been discrepancies errors (less than4%). Milan et al. [93] simulated the flow in the
between numerical and experimental predictions mainly from middle stage of a radial-flow multistage PAT to get the flow
geometry simplification in computational studies, as reported in pattern information for efficiency improvement through
this paper. Nevertheless, it was pointed out that, numerical geometrical modifications if by any means needed. CFD
predictions accuracy would also depend on grid quality and commercial code Ansys CFX was used to solve the fully
numerical methods and used turbulence models. CFD was unsteady three dimensional RANS equations together with the
generally acknowledged as an effective design tool for PAT shear stress transport (SST) turbulence model. The studied flow
Maxime B. et Al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance prediction
for micro hydropower schemes: A review

domain consisted of a six blades impeller with two different


diameters (full and reduced) and an eight channels stator, where
the selected boundary conditions were the flow rate and average
static pressure for inlet and outlet boundary conditions
respectively, for the turbine operational mode. Six interfaces,
three rotor-stator and three stator-rotor interfaces, were used
between rotor and stator, and the analysis was carried out at
different rotational speeds and flow rates. The numerical results
were in good agreement with experimental ones with an error of
about 13% from the neglected loss estimations in the numerical
study. Full diameter impeller version showed a comparatively
better performance, and it was found that the multistage pump
doesnt need any modification to become more efficient as it
could get sufficiently higher efficiencies, unmodified.
(a)

4. Performance improvement attempts

Patel et al. [94] experimentally studied the effect of impeller


modification on PAT performance. The main objective was to
compare the PAT efficiency as well as other performance
parameters before and after impeller modification. Different
modifications were made, viz. impeller edges rounding, hub and
shroud extremities rounding, and material removal at the
impeller exit areas; after which, the modified model was tested
at a constant speed of 1100rpm under continually varied loads.
After comparing the modified against unmodified model
performances, it was reported that the modified model exhibited
comparatively higher efficiency, where the BEP head and power
were attained at lower flow rates. It was then demonstrated that (b)
the rounded edges impeller would make a more efficient PAT.
Yang et al. [95] carried out a study on the influence of impeller
blade thickness on PAT performance. Three impellers with
different design parameters (Table 4) were experimentally and
numerically analyzed, and through a comparative scheme, their
performance characteristics were discussed. Owing to its
robustness and fast convergence, the CFD commercial code
Ansys CFX, was chosen to solve steady state Navier-Stokes
equations together with standard k- turbulence model. The
selected inlet and outlet boundary conditions were static pressure
in and mass flow out respectively, with continuously changed
flow to come up with the complete PAT performance curve.
Ansys ICEM was used for flow domain grid generation. The
PAT experimental tests were run at a Jiangsu University based
test rig, the results of which got compared to numerical ones. (c)
Both methods predictions were in an acceptably good agreement.
It was found that both pressure head and shaft power increased, Fig. 4. Performance curves of PATs with different blade thicknesses
whereas the efficiency decreased with the blade thickness a) Ns=57 b) Ns=119 c) Ns=168 [95]
increase (Fig. 4), therefore a small blade-thickness possible was
recommended as long as its strength is not compromised.
CHINESE JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

Table 4. Design parameters of the PAT Sheng et al. [97] studied the influence of impeller trimming
on PAT performance through experimental and numerical
Q/ m3h-1 H/m n/r min-1 ns
100 40 1500 57
methods. Note that impeller trimming is generally aimed at
120 43 3000 119 pump performance improvement whenever there is pressure
125 28 3000 168 head or flow rate drop. Three PAT models with full, once-
trimmed, and twice-trimmed impellers, were tested at the same
Giosio et al. [96] presented an experimental study aiming at rotational speed of 1500rpm in both turbine and pump modes
improving the PAT operating conditions by flow regulation with 0.57%, 0.50%, 0.76%, 1.2%, 1.27% and 0.14%,
facility incorporation thus eliminating a widely known PAT 0.50%, 0.52%, 1.08%, 1.20%; as respective pressure head,
problem of inflexibility towards flow regime fluctuations. A flow rate, hydraulic power, generated shaft power, and
suitable pump was first selected using Sharma method and got efficiency measured uncertainties, at a Jiangsu University-based
installed inside the customized housing provided with flow test rig. The steady state numerical research was carried out
regulation facility, and guide vane assembly consisting of 13 through a CFD code Ansys CFX, where the k- turbulence
hydrofoil shaped vanes; at a micro-hydro test rig based at the model was used, and static pressure in and mass flow rate out
University of Tasmania. For the construction of the PAT were chosen as inlet and outlet boundary conditions. The
efficiency hill chart, the steady state flow test was performed at experimental results showed the PAT efficiency drop of about
different guide vane openings ranging from 20 to 35 4.11% from full to twice-trimmed impeller diameter. Numerical
corresponding to 53% to 92% of full stroke, and net specific predictions were in an acceptable agreement with experimental
energy values ranging from 34j/kg to 83.3kg/j with 5j/kg ones, yet comparatively higher, from the neglected losses in
repetitive increments. The prediction results for pump rated numerical analysis. The PAT performance variation was the
operation, Sharma prediction method, and presented combined effect of four driving parameters, viz. impeller
experimental test; as well as the experimental tests-resulted diameter, blade wrap angle, blade thickness, and inlet blade
efficiency hill chart are shown in Table 5 and Fig. 5 respectively. angle. Sanjay et al. [98] carried out an experimental study to
The tested impeller exhibited a maximum overall efficiency of optimize the PAT geometrical and operational parameters, viz.
79% in good agreement with PAT theory, and it has been able to impeller diameter, blade tip rounding, and impeller rotational
operate within a big range of flow conditions. speed. Experiments were carried out on a selected centrifugal
Table 5 . Best efficiency values of the selected PAT operating as a
pump of 20m, 0.0292m3/s, 1400rpm, and 75% as rated head,
pump, turbine predicted, and turbine actual [96] discharge, speed, and efficiency, at a Nirma University-based
test rig. Tests were run at a wide range of rotational speeds from
H Q N P 900rpm to 1500rpm on PATs with original, 10%, and 20%
Values of BEP Nq [-]
[m] [m3/s] [rpm] [KW] [%] trimmed impellers (250mm, 225mm, and 200mm as respective
Pump as rated 104.3 12.25 0.222 1450 34.0 78.5
Turbine diameters), before and after blade edge curving. Every test was
92.4 4.38 0.139 750 4.68 78.5
predicted run three times and the parameter mean values were considered.
Turbine actual 71.9 5.98 0.133 754 6.20 79.0 From test findings, recommendations were given. However they
were more specific to this research case, thus requiring a
generalization process to a wide range of PAT geometrical and
operational conditions. The highest efficiency (76.93%) was
record at a 10% trimmed impeller running at 1100rpm. Finally
an empirical correlation was developed and gave the efficiency
predictions in the range of 10% compared to experimental ones.
Impeller trimming and blade rounding led to a better part load
performance and efficiency increase about 3-4% respectively.
Derakhshan et al. [99], using the gradient-based optimization as
presented in his previous publication [100], modified the
impeller blade geometric design to improve the PAT maximum
efficiency. The blade design was firstly optimized through a
gradient-based optimization technique, coupled with a 3D
Navier-Stokes flow solver, after which the optimized impeller
blades got rounded and experimentally tested for further analysis.
Fig. 5. Performance Hill chart of the micro-hydro turbine unit [96] FINE/TURBO was used for simulations and k- turbulence
model was selected to solve the flow RANS equations, where
mass flow rate in and static pressure out were the chosen inlet
Maxime B. et Al. Investigation on pump as turbine (PAT) selection and performance prediction
for micro hydropower schemes: A review

and outlet boundary conditions respectively. The tested pump increase, volute pressure pulsation amplitudes decreased,
was a low specific speed centrifugal pump (23.5m, m3/s), with a whereas the impeller situation remained unchanged.
turbine mode rotational speed of 1500rpm. The test
measurement uncertainty analysis was carried out through
Moffat technique[101], where 5.5%, 3.4%, 5.1%, and 5.5% were
respective head, flow rate, power, and efficiency uncertainties.
The optimization process raised the PAT performance, but the
rounded PAT version exhibited even higher performance
compared to both initial and optimized versions. Both
modifications contributed to the efficiency improvement in the
range from 3% to 5%. Impeller modification was found a
reliable performance improvement method within PATs. Suarda
et al. [53] presented an experimental study on a small volute-
type centrifugal pump, aiming at pump reverse mode efficiency
improvement by modifying the shape of impeller blade tips into
bullet nose-like shape. A small volute-type centrifugal pump
having 0.13m3/sec, 13m, and 0.4Kw as maximum discharge, Fig. 6. Performance curves of the PAT with different radial gaps
head, and motor power respectively; has been tested under [102]
various flow rates, for both original and modified impellers, at
Yang et al. [103], through experimental, numerical, and
Huai Kra Thing village site. Experiment results showed an
theoretical methods, investigated the effect of impeller diameter
increase in both power and efficiency for the modified impeller.
on PAT performance. Experimental tests were performed on a
The maximum efficiency shifted from 34.34% (before
single stage centrifugal pump with a rotational speed of 1500rpm,
modification) to 37.5% (after modification) with a
with different impeller diameters namely 215mm, 235mm, and
comparatively lower BEP flow rate (0.00149m3/sec against
255mm respectively. Both power and efficiency increased after
0.002m3/s). Flow turbulences at the impeller inlet were also
BEP while the Head dropped with impeller diameter increase.
substantially decreased. This method was mostly recommended
However the PAT efficiency, shaft power, pressure head, and
for large capacity PATs, where remarkable improvements can
flow; all increased in the range from 10.26% to 89.39%, for an
be noticed; rather than in small pumps, as their performance
impeller diameter increase from 215mm to 255mm, at BEP.
improvement would be as small as ineffective. Yang et al. [102]
Simulation results were in a quite good agreement with
carried out a numerical study about the influence of the radial
experimental ones; yet small discrepancies were noticed, mainly
gap between the impeller and the stationary volute to both the
from some neglected losses. Also hydraulic losses were globally
PAT performance and PAT pressure fields characteristics. A
noticed to have been decreasing with the impeller diameter
CFD steady state simulation was first carried out on PATs with
increase. Theoretical method over-predicted the BEP
different radial gaps, viz. 0.062D2, 0.145D2, and 0.224D2
characteristics as compared to experimental findings, therefore,
(D2:impeller inlet diameter) at a rotational speed of 1500rpm.
they were only recommended for PAT BEP rough estimations.
Ansys CFX code was used, and k- turbulence model was
adopted; where static pressure in and mass flow out were chosen
for inlet and outlet boundary conditions respectively. By Conclusions
continually changing the flow rate, PAT performance curves
were achieved; where it was found that 0.145D2 was the This paper presented a literature review from previously
optimum radial gap as it exhibited the highest efficiency published works on pump-turbine technical aspects namely
(69.18%) at BEP (Fig. 6). For the next step, monitoring points pump-turbine selection and performance prediction, where the
were set in the inlet pipe, volute, and blade flow passages and following conclusions are drawn:
the unsteady PAT flow simulation was performed, aiming at (1) By inversing their fluid flow direction, pumps can work
analyzing the pressure fields in the PAT flow domain. The rotor- effectively for power generation without any mechanical
stator interaction created both high and low frequency unsteady failures, and present many advantages over conventional
turbines, especially in off-grid energy systems.
pressure fluctuations in volute and impeller respectively.
(2) Pump-turbines operate poorly under part-load conditions
However, due to volute high frequency fluctuations propagation and their efficiency is usually lower or equal to
towards the impeller channels and inlet pipe; impeller pressure conventional turbines. However, their global adoption is
fields were a combination of both kinds. With the radial gap more about economic profits rather than performance
efficiency.
CHINESE JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

(3) A great deal of studies have been carried out on pump- the remaining gaps; where more parameters, be it design or
turbine performance prediction but in vain as there is no operational, need to even deeply be checked; all leading to more
universal prediction method applicable to a wide range of ability to make the pump-turbine technology not only
specific speeds yet found. However, their performance can economically reliable but also technically efficient.
still be improved through impeller design modifications,
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CHINESE JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING

[96] Giosio D, Henderson A, Walker J, Brandner P, Sargison J, Gautam P. BINAMA Maxime, born in 1985, is currently following his PhD
Design and performance evaluation of a pump-as-turbine micro-hydro test
program in Power Engineering and Engineering Thermophysics
facility with incorporated inlet flow control. Renewable Energy. 2015;78:1-6.
[97] Yang S-S, Kong F-Y, Jiang W-M, Qu X-Y. Effects of impeller trimming at Harbin Institute of technology, China. His research interests
influencing pump as turbine. Computers & Fluids. 2012;67:72-8. include the optimization design and analysis of unstable flows in
[98] Jain SV, Swarnkar A, Motwani KH, Patel RN. Effects of impeller diameter reversible Pump turbines. He received his Masters degree of
and rotational speed on performance of pump running in turbine mode. Energy
Fluid Mechanics from Harbin Institute of Technology, China in
Conversion and Management. 2015;89:808-24.
[99] Derakhshan S, Mohammadi B, Nourbakhsh A. Efficiency Improvement of 2015.
Centrifugal Reverse Pumps. Journal of Fluids Engineering. 2009;131:021103-. Tel: +86-15846397463; E-mail: binamamaxime@hit.edu.cn
[100] Derakhshan S, Mohammadi B, Nourbakhsh A. Incomplete sensitivities for
3D radial turbomachinery blade optimization. Computers & Fluids.
SU Wentao, born in 1984, is currently a post-doc at Harbin
2008;37:1354-63.
[101] Moffat R. Contributions to the theory of single-sample uncertainty analysis. Institute of Technology, China. His research interests are in the
ASME, Transactions, Journal of Fluids Engineering. 1982;104:250-58. fields of fluid machinery and computational fluid dynamics. He
[102] Yang S-S, Liu H-L, Kong F-Y, Xia B, Tan L-W. Effects of the radial gap received his Ph.D. in Department of Nuclear Engineering, Kyoto
between impeller tips and volute tongue influencing the performance and
University, Japan.
pressure pulsations of pump as turbine. Journal of Fluids Engineering.
2014;136:054501. Tel: +86-451-86403740; E-mail: suwentao@hit.edu.cn
[103] Yang S-S, Liu H-L, Kong F-Y, Dai C, Dong L. Experimental, Numerical,
and Theoretical Research on Impeller Diameter Influencing Centrifugal Pump- LI Xiaobin, born in 1984, is currently a lecturer of School of
as-Turbine. Journal of Energy Engineering. 2013;139:299-307.
Energy Science and Engineering at Harbin Institute of
Technology, China. His research interests are in the fields of
fluid machinery, microscaled flow and heat transfer, and
experimental fluid mechanics. He received his Ph.D. in
Biographical notes Engineering Thermophysics from Harbin Institute of
Technology in 2012, and accomplished his post-doc research on
LI Fengchen, born in 1971, is currently a full professor at Harbin microscaled flow in the University of Tokyo in 2015.
Institute of Technology, China. His research interests include Tel: +86-451-86403254; E-mail: lixb@hit.edu.cn
turbulent drag-reducing flow with additives and heat transfer,
micro-scaled flow and heat transfer, gas-liquid two-phase flows, ZHAO Yue, born in 1967, is currently the director of Hydro-
and magnetohydrodynamics of liquid metal. He received his turbine lab at Harbin Institute of Large Electric Machinery,
Ph.D. in Engineering Thermophysics from Harbin Institute of China. His research interests are flow measurement, hydraulic
Technology in 2004. design in fluid machinery. He received his bachelor degree of
Tel: +86-451-86403254; E-mail: lifch@hit.edu.cn Mechanical Manufacturing at Jilin University of Technology,
China.
Tel: +86-13936624913; E-mail: zhaoyue1967@sina.com