Pumped Hydropower Storage (PHS) is the maturest and most economically viable technology for storing energy and regulating the electrical grid on a large scale. Due to the growing amount of intermittent renewable energy sources, the necessity of maintaining grid stability increases. Most PHS facilities today require a geographical topology with large differences in elevation. The ALPHEUS H2020 EU project has the aim to develop PHS for flat geographical topologies. The present study was concerned with the initial design of a low-head model counter-rotating pump-turbine. The machine was numerically analysed during the shutdown and startup sequences using computational fluid dynamics. The rotational speed of the individual runners was decreased from the design point to stand-still and increased back to the design point, in both pump and turbine modes. As the rotational speeds were close to zero, the flow field was chaotic, and a large flow separation occurred by the blades of the runners.
Rapid load variations on the runner blades and reverse flow were encountered in pump mode as the machine lost the ability to produce head. The loads were less severe in the turbine mode sequence. Frequency analyses revealed that the blade passing frequencies and their linear combinations yielded the strongest pulsations in the system.
Figure 1. Blade geometry and computational domain. (a) Runner 1 (red) and Runner 2 (blue). (b) Computational domain with the coordinate system, geometrical dimensions, location of pressure probe P4, and velocity lines 1 and 2. In pump mode, the flow is from left to right (positive z) and, in turbine mode, from right to left (negative z).
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