Hydraulic Power Units for Hydro Power Plant Maintenance
Hydraulic power units have many applications. One such application is for hydro power plant maintenance. Hydro power plants harness kinetic energy from flowing water to generate electricity. It is a simple and reliable form of renewable energy. The energy is created from turbines spun by the flowing water, converting kinetic energy into electricity by spinning a generator. The power generated by hydo power plants is then used to power surrounding communities, which is why it is crucial for these facilities to have minimal downtime. A feat only earned by implementing efficient and safe maintenance practices.
An integral part of the hydroelectric power generation process is the turbines that spin to create energy. Each turbine has several blades and each blade has a mass of about 15,000 pounds. When all blades are attached to the turbine, the load is balanced. These turbine blades are always in action, spinning under constant pressure. So, they require regular maintenance to keep them performing optimally. Due to the immense size and weight of these blades, removing one for maintenance unbalances the turbine putting stress on the turbine potentially damaging it. In the past when facility personnel removed a turbine blade for maintenance, they would physically balance the turbine load using wooden blocks, chains, and pulleys. Maintenance crews were being put into dangerous situations regularly to perform necessary maintenance. Hydroelectric companies were desperate for a better way to perform maintenance on turbines.
The Solution: Hydraulic Power Units for Hydro Power Plant Maintenance
Pneumatic and Hydraulic Company was approached by Louisiana Hydroelectric to engineer a safe and efficient way to maintain turbine blades without putting a crew in harm’s way. Louisiana Hydroelectric wanted a better process that could decrease their chance of on-site accidents drastically. Our engineers worked hard to create a pressurized control system that would attach to the base of a turbine and balance it when a turbine blade was removed. Rather than their previous method of using wooden blocks, pulleys, and chains to hold turbines in place during maintenance, our system is safer and much more efficient.
Our system is made up of two hydraulic power units and 2 counterbalance valves. The drive system that balances the load is set in action by the operator upon removal of a blade. The hydraulic power unit is then powered on, setting off the valves to overcome the imbalance pulling on the turbine. The two counterbalance valves connected to each hydraulic motor work as a brake to prevent the load from imbalance.
Louisiana Hydroelectric’s biggest concern was getting crew members out of the vicinity of machinery during the maintenance process. We were able to make this possible for them by implementing a transmitter/receiver setup in our turbine control system that is wireless controlled by an operator outside of the maintenance area. A human-machine interface is used to wirelessly communicate between the receiver, the hydraulic power unit, and the valves.
The system that PHC built for Louisiana Hydroelectric has revolutionized the way they perform maintenance on their machinery. This innovative application of hydraulic power is just one of the many unique projects we’ve worked on recently that has simplified and improved a company’s operations. Our mission is simple, we want to create hydraulic solutions for you and your company to help your operations run smoothly.
For more information about similar systems, or to speak with our engineering team about your custom application, call us at 877-836-1999.