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Technical Journal, University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Taxila, Pakistan Vol. 20(SI) No.


Performance Investigation of a Screw Turbine

Operating Under Low Head and Less Flow Rate
M. Amjad1, *, F. Fazal1, F. Noor1, A. Qamar1, M. Farooq1
Department of Mechanical, Mechatronics and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Engineering & Technology Lahore,
KSK Campus.
Corresponding Author:

Abstract- Hydro power is the renewable source of role in the development of a country. In these days,
energy and world is trying to use this energy at the electricity can be produced by number of ways like hydro
maximum rate, but the hydro power plant requires , coal, steam, wind and nuclear. The energy which is
certain head and flow of the water to work efficiently. produced by hydro is cheapest among all these [i]. Run of
This requirement results in high initial capital cost of river small scale hydro power units which require neither
the hydro power plant. Countries like Pakistan where dam nor water storage must be the prime consideration
a natural river draft is available have a great potential for electrification of rural and less developed areas [ii-iv].
for micro hydro power generation. Screw turbine is Large dams are used to generate power in megawatt. To
one of the turbines which works on low head and build these dams, large capital cost and large land
requires less flow rates that can be used for reforms are required. So, in these days micro hydro
power plants are common for simple run of river. For low
generating electricity at micro level. The screw
head the most suitable turbine is hydraulic Archimedes
turbine has low initial cost and running cost is also
screw turbine [v-viii].
low as no fine water screening is required, no need to
Archimedes Screw is one of the oldest hydraulic
build dams and it is also very friendly to marine life as
machines, but this was used for long time for pumping
fishes can easily pass through the turbine blades
water [ix-x]. Firstly, it was used for pumping water from
without any harm. In this study, the screw turbine is
lower level to upper level but it can be used in reverse as
designed to be installed on the run of the river a hydraulic screw turbine for energy conversion.
fashion. The purpose of current study is to investigate The generation of electricity through hydro-power
the torque developed on the turbine shaft at different plants has increased in last decade [xi]. Different run of
heads and flow rate. It is concluded that maximum river dams are created in different regions. The countries
speed (RPM) of the turbine shaft is achieved when it which are major hydropower producers are Canada,
is inclined at an angle of 36o. Any increase in the flow USA, Brazil, China, Russia, Norway, Japan, India,
rate for a given inclination and load will result in Sweden, and France [xii-xiii].
increased RPM of the screw shaft which makes it Pakistan is facing energy crisis due to lack of adequate
suitable for producing electricity at micro level to investment in mobilizing energy resources and due to
electrify the areas of Pakistan located along the increase in demand. Government of Pakistan is focused
natural water draft. to increase energy supplies for economic development of
Pakistan. Pakistan is highly dependent on oil and gas for
power production at the moment. To meet 30% of energy
Key Words- Screw Turbine, Mechanical Power, Low
requirements, crude oil and LPG are imported, spending
Head, Less Flow Rate, Speed, Torque, Run of the
14.5 billion. All the energy resources and their
contribution in overall energy consumption are given in
Table 1.
Pakistan has a great potential for micro hydropower
Small and large sources of hydropower have been
generation and the utilization of this potential is the need
the most demanding and important renewable source in
of the hour. Depending upon the availability of water
worlds power production scenario and contribute about head and flow rate, numerous turbines like Pelton wheel
19% of the earths electricity. Electricity plays a major turbine [xiv-xv], Francis turbine [xvi-xvii], Kaplan

Technical Journal, University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Taxila, Pakistan Vol. 20(SI) No.II(S)-2015

turbine [xviii-xix] , etc. as shown in Figure 1, have been II. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN
developed. Screw turbine is basically a low head turbine The design parameters are carefully selected and
and its working range is less than about 5m head [xx]. are shown in Table 2. The material used for fabrication of
The basic working principal of screw turbine is very this model screw turbine is mild steel. Mild steel sheet of
simple and it can be used in run of river fashion. Water 0.08 inch thickness was first bended into desired profile
moving downward through the blades of the screw under of the screw and then welded with 2 inch hollow shaft.
gravity turns the turbine shaft which can be coupled to a The outer diameter of the screw is 5.6 inch and maximum
generator to generate electricity at micro level. The use of length is 36 inch for this study. The variables in this study
hydraulic screw as a turbine which is the reverse of include inclination angle of the screw turbine, flow rate
Archimedes screw pump [xxi] needs attention to develop of water and applied torque to calculate the power
micro hydro power plants in the present scenario of produced by the screw turbine under loaded conditions.
energy crisis in Pakistan which is the basic motive of this The inclination angle is varied between 21 degree to 36
study. degree, water flow rate from 0.4 liter/second to 1.0
Table 1: The energy mix of Pakistan in 2012 liter/second and applied torque from 0 to 2.8 Nm using a
spring balance of range from 0 to 10N with 0.1N
Resources Contribution resolution. The experimental range of these input
parameters are also shown in Table 3Table 3 and a
Oil 30.8% schematic of this experimental setup is given in Error!
Gas 49.5% Reference source not found..
LPG 0.5%
Coal 6.6%
Hydro 10.5%
Nuclear 1.9%
Source: Pakistan Energy Year Book 2012

Figure 2: Schematic of experimental setup (where L is

length, H is height and is the inclination angle)

Figure 1: Scope of screw turbine amongst other turbines The ends of the model the screw turbine are
supported by UC-206 bearings. Experiments were
operating under different flow rate and head.
performed on the turbine by varying different parameters
to see the effect on RPM (revolutions per minute)
Hydro screw turbine has certain advantages over any
developed under no load and different loading conditions.
other hydro turbine. The main positive aspects of a screw
The RPM of the turbine were measured by varying the
turbine include low capital cost, less installation time, no
flow of water and keeping the inclination angle at a
need for fine screening, high efficiency as compare to
certain value in the experimental domain and then by
Kaplan turbine, high efficiency over variable flow rates
changing the inclination angle to another value. A ball
as the inclination angle can be adjusted to compensate
valve was used to maintain the flow to a certain value
variable flow of water and low maintenance cost. It is
within the range of this study. A tachometer (Digital
also fish friendly and safe for other marine life because
Tachometer, ST-623B) was used to measure the RPM of
leaves, fishes, etc can easily pass through the helix of the
the screw turbine shaft. Torque was varies by changing
screw. Keeping in mind all the above mentioned benefits,
the force applied through a pulley, a belt and spring
an experimental investigation is presented in this study to
balance. Then torque was calculated using formula T = F
analyze the performance of a screw turbine under
x r, Where T torque of the turbine (Nm), F is the
different operating conditions and the results suggest its
applied force (N) and r is the radius of the turbine shaft.
suitability and applicability in run of river fashion to
generate electricity.

Technical Journal, University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Taxila, Pakistan Vol. 20(SI) No.II(S)-2015

Table 2: Design parameters of screw used.

Design Parameters Units Values

Length of screw Inch 36.0
Outer diameter Inch 5.6
Inner diameter Inch 3.0
Blade thickness Inch 0.08
Pitch Inch 6
Material ----- Mild steel

Table 3: Experimental ranges of different process

parameters. Figure 3: Variation of RPM developed at different
inclination under changing flow rate under no load
Parameter Units Range conditions.
Inclination angle () degree 21 to 36 Variation of turbine shaft speed at different
Flow rate Liter/s 0.4 to 1.0 inclinations under different loads at flow rate of 1L/s and
Nm 0.7L/s is shown in Figure 4 and Figure 5. There was no
Applied torque 0 to 2.8
motion of turbine shaft at a flow rate of 0.4L/s so its
effect is not shown here. It can be seen from Figure 4 and
III. ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION Figure 5 that there is no motion when a torque of 2.8Nm
During experimentation, the rpm of the screw turbine is applied on the turbine shaft even when the inclination
were measured by varying the flow rate and inclination and flow rate are increased to maximum in the
angle using a digital tachometer as described above. experimental range. This is due the overloading condition
Flow was varied from 0.4L/s to 1.0L/s and inclination of the turbine with in the experimental range. This
angle from 21o to 36o. The mechanical power of the phenomenon can be described as self-safety of this setup.
When the load on the turbine shaft is greater than its
turbine is calculated using the relation P = 2NT/60
designed capacity, it will simply stop turning without
where T is torque applied on the turbine shaft (Nm) and damaging the appliances operating with this turbine shaft.
N is rpm of the turbine. Figure 3 through Figure 7 shows At a particular load value, the speed of the turbine shaft
various plots showing the variation in process responses increases with the increase in inclination of the shaft and
as a result of variation in the input parameters. at a given load and inclination angle, speed varies directly
The inclination angle of the screw turbine was fixed with the water flow rate as cam be seen from Figure 4
at a certain value within the experimental range, the flow and Figure 5.
was varied and the corresponding change in speed of
turbine shaft was noted. Figure 3 shows the change in
speed of the turbine shaft at different water flow rates. It
can be seen that as the flow rate is increased the speed of
the turbine shaft is increased. Also with the increase in
inclination, the speed also increases. This is because
when at some particular inclination the flow rate is
increased, water running through the blades of the screw
turns the turbine shaft rapidly and the kinetic energy of
water is converting into fast turning of turbine screw.
Hence speed of the turbine shaft increases linearly with
the inclination and water flow rate within the
experimental range.
Figure 4: Effect of applied torque on RPM at different
inclinations when flow of water is 1L/s.

Technical Journal, University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Taxila, Pakistan Vol. 20(SI) No.II(S)-2015

Figure 5: RPM variation at different torque values vs

inclination angle when flow of water is 0.7L/s.
Figure 7: Power developed against applied torque at
As described earlier that mechanical power different inclinations when flow is 0.7L/s.
developed on the turbine shaft is calculated using the
It is evident from the above discussion that screw
relation P = 2NT/60, power is zero when any of N or T
turbine have a potential to be used in run of the river
is zero. When the turbine shaft is running at some
fashion to produce electricity at micro level to electrify
inclination and at a particular flow rate, applied torque is
the areas along the natural draft of the rivers in Pakistan.
varied and the effect is noted in the form of increase or
It can be seen that this requires a very little set up cost
decrease in the speed of turbine shaft. The rpm of the
with no significant labor and capital investment which is
turbine shaft decreases when torque is increased and vice
normally required for any other turbine to be used for
versa. When the applied torque is increased to 2.8Nm,
hydro power generation.
turbine shaft is stopped irrespective of the inclination and
flow rate which determines the maximum operating IV.CONCLUSION
capacity of the turbine within experimental range. This The conventional fossil fuel resources are lessening and
effect is shown in Figure 6 and Figure 7 at flow rate of also becoming very expensive with the every passing
1L/s and 0.7L/s respectively which explain that best day. Ever increasing energy demands can be controlled
operating conditions can be achieved when the load is by installing small renewable energy power plants and
micro hydro is the best choice for countries like Pakistan
between 1.0 to 1.5Nm in the selected range of this study. lacking in meeting energy demands but having a great
natural water draft. Keeping in mind the current energy
crisis in Pakistan, micro hydro power plants are one of
the best solutions. Run of the river potential can be
utilized by installing screw turbines which operate under
low head and flow requirements. The present study
investigates the operating conditions of a screw turbine
which can be used to meet the energy demand of people
who are residing in areas where it can be installed easily
with a very small investment. Screw turbine in this study
is operated at different inclination angles by changing the
water flow rate against varying applied load. It can be
concluded that speed of the turbine shaft increases with
increase in both water flow rate and inclination angle for
a given applied load within the experimental range. A
maximum output is achieved at an inclination of 36
Figure 6: Power developed against applied torque at degree and flow rate of 1L/s which suggests its suitability
different inclinations when flow is 1L/s. for producing electricity on micro level by coupling its
shaft with a generator.
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