Kaplan Turbine

The Kaplan turbine is a propeller-type water turbine which has adjustable blades. It was developed in 1913 by the Austrian professor Viktor Kaplan, who combined automatically adjusted propeller blades with automatically adjusted wicket gates to achieve efficiency over a wide range of flow and water level.

The Kaplan turbine was an evolution of the Francis turbine. Its invention allowed efficient power production in low-head applications that was not possible with Francis turbines. The head ranges from 10–70 meters and the output from 5 to 200 MW. Runner diameters are between 2 and 11 meters. Turbines rotate at a a constant rate, which varies from facility to facility. That rate ranges from as low as 69.2 rpm (Bonneville North Powerhouse, Washington U.S.) to 429 rpm. The Kaplan turbine installation believed to generate the most power from its nominal head of 34.65m is as of 2013 the Tocoma Power Plant (Venezuela) Kaplan turbine generating 235MW with each of ten 4.8m diameter runners.

Kaplan turbines are now widely used throughout the world in high-flow, low-head power production.


Kaplan turbines are widely used throughout the world for electrical power production. They cover the lowest head hydro sites and are especially suited for high flow conditions.

Inexpensive micro turbines on the Kaplan turbine model are manufactured for individual power production designed for 3 m of head which can work with as little as 0.3 m of head at a highly reduced performance provided sufficient water flow.

Large Kaplan turbines are individually designed for each site to operate at the highest possible efficiency, typically over 90%. They are very expensive to design, manufacture and install, but operate for decades.

They have recently found a new home in offshore wave energy generation, see Wave Dragon.


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