Unsteady numerical simulation of flow in draft tube of a hydroturbine operating under various conditions using a partially averaged Navier-Stokes model

Hosein Foroutan, Savas Yavuzkurt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The variable energy demand requires a great flexibility in operating a hydroturbine, which forces the machine to be operated far from its design point. One of the main components of a hydroturbine where undesirable flow phenomena occur under off-design conditions is the draft tube. Using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), the present paper studies the flow in the draft tube of a Francis turbine operating under various conditions. Specifically, four operating points with the same head and different flow rates corresponding to 70%, 91%, 99%, and 110% of the flow rate at the best efficiency point (BEP) are considered. Unsteady numerical simulations are performed using a recently developed partially averaged Navier-Stokes (PANS) turbulence model, and the results are compared to the available experimental data, as well as the numerical results of the traditionally used Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) models. Several parameters including the pressure recovery coefficient, mean velocity, and time-averaged and fluctuating wall pressure are investigated. It is shown that RANS and PANS both can predict the flow behavior close to the BEP operating condition. However, RANS results deviate considerably from the experimental data as the operating condition moves away from the BEP. The pressure recovery factor predicted by the RANS model shows more than 13% and 58% overprediction when the flow rate decreases to 91% and 70% of the flow rate at BEP, respectively. Predictions can be improved significantly using the present unsteady PANS simulations. Specifically, the pressure recovery factor is predicted by less than 4% and 6% deviation for these two operating conditions. A similar conclusion is reached from the analysis of the mean velocity and wall pressure data. Using unsteady PANS simulations, several transient features of the draft tube flow including the vortex rope and associated pressure fluctuations are successfully modeled. The formation of the vortex rope in partial load conditions results in severe pressure fluctuations exerting oscillatory forces on the draft tube. These pressure fluctuations are studied for several locations in the draft tube and the critical region with highest fluctuation amplitude is found to be the inner side of the elbow. Copyright VC 2015 by ASME.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Fluids Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Unsteady numerical simulation of flow in draft tube of a hydroturbine operating under various conditions using a partially averaged Navier-Stokes model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this