Francis turbine guide vanes have pivoted support with external control mechanism, for conversion of pressure to kinetic energy and to direct them to runner vanes. This movement along the support is dependent on variation of load and flow (operating conditions). Small clearance gaps between facing plates and the upper and lower guide vane tips are available to aid this movement, through which leakage flow occurs. This secondary flow disturbs the main flow stream, resulting performance loss. Additionally, these increased horseshoe vortex, in presence of sand, when crosses through the gaps, both the surfaces are eroded. This causes further serious effect on performance and structural property by increasing gaps. This paper discusses the observation of the severity in hydropower plants and effect of clearance gaps on general performance of the Francis turbine through computational methods. It also relates the primary result with the empirical relation for leakage flow prediction. Additionally, a possible method to computationally estimate thickness depletion has also been presented. With increasing clearance gap, leakage increases, which lowers energy conversion and turbine efficiency along with larger secondary vortex.
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