Pelton wheel

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The Pelton wheel is among the most efficient types of water turbines. It was invented by Lester Allan Pelton in the 1870s. The Pelton wheel extracts energy from the impulse (momentum) of moving water, as opposed to its weight like traditional overshot water wheel. Although many variations of impulse turbines existed prior to Pelton's design, they were less efficient than Pelton's design; the water leaving these wheels typically still had high speed, and carried away much of the energy. Pelton' paddle geometry was designed so that when the rim runs at ½ the speed of the water jet, the water leaves the wheel with very little speed, extracting almost all of its energy, and allowing for a very efficient turbine.

Contents

History

Function

The water flows along the tangent to the path of the runner. Nozzles direct forceful streams of water against a series of spoon-shaped buckets mounted around the edge of a wheel. As water flows into the bucket, the direction of the water velocity changes to follow the contour of the bucket. When the water-jet contacts the bucket, the water exerts pressure on the bucket and the water is decelerated as it does a "u-turn" and flows out the other side of the bucket at low velocity. In the process, the water's momentum is transferred to the turbine. This "impulse" does work on the turbine. For maximum power and efficiency, the turbine system is designed such that the water-jet velocity is twice the velocity of the bucket. A very small percentage of the water's original kinetic energy will still remain in the water; however, this allows the bucket to be emptied at the same rate it is filled, (see conservation of mass), thus allowing the water flow to continue uninterrupted. Often two buckets are mounted side-by-side, thus splitting the water jet in half (see photo). This balances the side-load forces on the wheel, and helps to ensure smooth, efficient momentum transfer of the fluid jet to the turbine wheel.

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