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Pelton Wheel Turbine

The Pelton wheel is an impulse type water turbine and is designed so that the rim of the drive wheel—also called a runner, runs at half the speed of the water jet. This design has the water leaving the wheel with very little speed; thus extracting almost all of the water's impulse energy—making it a very efficient turbine.

Pelton wheels are common turbine for small hydro-power, when the available water source has relatively high hydraulic head at low flow rates, where the Pelton wheel is most efficient. Pelton wheels are made in all sizes, from the smallest micro Hydro Systems to much larger than the small 10 MW units would require. Most micro/mini systems use a Turgo Turbine with the small size 1-10 MW Hydrosystems can use a Turgo or Pelton wheel depending on the system requirements.

Operationally, as the water jet impinges upon the contoured bucket-blades, the direction of water velocity is changed to follow the contours of the bucket. Water impulse energy exerts torque on the bucket-and-wheel system, spinning the wheel; the water stream itself does a "u-turn" and exits at the outer sides of the bucket, decelerated to a low velocity. In the process, the water jet's momentum is transferred to the wheel and thence to a turbine. Thus, "impulse" energy does work on the turbine. For maximum power and efficiency, the wheel and turbine system is designed such that the water jet velocity is twice the velocity of the rotating buckets. A very small percentage of the water jet's original kinetic energy will remain in the water, which causes the bucket to be emptied at the same rate it is filled, (see conservation of mass) and thereby allows the high-pressure input flow to continue uninterrupted and without waste of energy. Typically two buckets are mounted side-by-side on the wheel, which permits splitting the water jet into two equal streams (see photo). This balances the side-load forces on the wheel and helps to ensure smooth, efficient transfer of momentum of the fluid jet of water to the turbine wheel.

The conduit or pipe bringing high-pressure water to the impulse wheel is called the penstock. Rickly Hydro provides sizing analysis for the proper penstock diameter to minimize power losses due to penstock friction and minimizing the penstock requirements for project costs.

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