GE Renewable Energy has introduced a new underwater robotized hydropower turbine inspection solution designed to be able to inspect between the runner blades of a turbine – which the company said is a first of its kind in the hydropower condition assessment field.
Designed, developed and tested with GE Research Center, the product is based on remote operated vehicles (ROV) equipped with sensors and cameras, and can inspect hard-to-reach areas without dewatering the equipment
This new condition assessment methodology allows on-demand and high-quality inspections with comparable results to dry visual inspection without having the services team enter into a turbine’s confined space, said GE. The customized design of the ROV is able to inspect between runner blades of a turbine within openings of less than 200mm. The product has been designed to detect erosion, cavitation, corrosion, impact marks and presence of foreign bodies. Experts then review the information in real-time to ensure proper inspection of all critical surfaces. Video images are also recorded for further analysis if needed.
“Advances in underwater ROV technology have been tremendous in the past few years. As its use is progressively spreading in the hydropower industry, we wanted to accelerate its deployment with our cutting-edge underwater condition assessment solution,” said Roberta Galli, Hydro Services Leader. “Our large assessment portfolio enables us to inspect our customers’ hydropower equipment more quickly and more efficiently and provide faster services recommendations to better serve them.”
The validation process of this solution was performed at five hydropower plants in Canada. Trash racks, intake gates, vertical and horizontal turbines and downstream gates were successfully inspected. Inserting a 360-degree camera between the blades of Francis runners allowed teams to visually inspect the distributor, runner and draft tube.