The performance of a pump-turbine under partial flow rates, 85%, 75%, and 65%, is studied using the LES model. The power signal, velocity, vorticity, and pressure field is presented over the blades and throughout the draft tube. Pressure fluctuations are probed at various locations over the wall of the draft tube. Examining the flow field in the blade region can provide further insights into the system performance. Flow-induced pressure fluctuations can disrupt system stability.
For this turbine, a strong swirling region is observed around the draft tube walls, causing pressure fluctuations. The size and intensity of this region decrease with the flow rate. A vortex rope is present in all cases. At the design point, the strength is constant throughout the draft tube. However, at partial load, the rope is weakened along the draft tube. Between the region dominated by the vortex rope and the wall, there is a swirling shear layer, which moves closer to the wall as the flow rate decreases.
Both the magnitude of pressure fluctuations at the wall and the pressure difference over the blade decrease with the flow rate. The decreased pressure differences over the blade represent less power produced, and the decline in fluctuation magnitude at the wall represents more system stability. For this turbine, there appears to be a trade-off between power and strength of pressure fluctuations.