Mechanical Basics

What is Kaplan Turbine?

Kaplan turbine, invented by Viktor Kaplan, which is a water turbine designed for efficient electricity generation in low-head hydroelectric plants.

What is Kaplan Turbine

Featuring adjustable blades, it excels in sites with low vertical drop and high flow rates, like rivers. Its propeller-like design harnesses kinetic energy, while the blades can be rotated to optimize performance across varying water flow conditions.

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History of Kaplan Turbine

  • Kaplan turbines are invented by Austrian engineer Viktor Kaplan in the early 20th century, marked a significant advancement in hydroelectric technology.
  • Introduced in 1913, Kaplan’s design addressed the inefficiencies of existing turbines in low-head settings.
  • It included adjustable blades, allowing optimization for various flow conditions.
  • Slowly, Kaplan turbine gained prominence for its adaptability and efficiency in harnessing energy from rivers and canals.
  • Its impact on hydroelectric power generation has been profound, contributing to the global shift toward renewable energy sources.

Parts of Kaplan Turbine

The parts of Kaplan turbine includes

  • Runner
  • Blades
  • Wicket Gates
  • Draft Tube
  • Guide Vanes
  • Shaft
  • Generator
  • Hub
  • And few other small equipment that are ideal in all types of turbines.

Working Principle of Kaplan Turbine

The working principle of Kaplan turbine operates on the principle of converting kinetic energy from flowing water into rotational mechanical energy.

Firstly, the water enters through adjustable wicket gates, flows over adjustable blades on a rotating runner, and exits through a draft tube. The turbine’s adaptability optimizes performance for varying water flow conditions and ensuring efficiency.

Working of Kaplan Turbine

Kaplan turbine is a type of hydroelectric turbine that is designed to efficiently harness the energy from low-head, high-flow water sources. The working of a Kaplan turbine involves

Water Intake Process:

  • The process begins with water being directed towards the turbine. Wicket gates, which are adjustable, control the flow of water into the turbine.
  • These gates are typically located at the entrance of the turbine and are responsible for regulating the water flow.

Guide Vanes:

  • Before reaching the turbine blades, the water passes through guide vanes, which help direct the flow onto the rotating blades of the turbine.
  • Guide vanes are also adjustable, allowing for further control over the water flow and optimizing the angle of attack on the turbine blades.

Adjustable Blades:

  • One of the features of the Kaplan turbine is its adjustable blades. The runner, which consists of a hub and attached blades, rotates as water flows over it.
  • The angle of the blades can be adjusted based on the flow conditions.
  • This adjustability allows the turbine to maintain high efficiency across a range of flow rates.

Energy Conversion:

  • As water flows over the rotating blades, the kinetic energy of the water is converted into rotational mechanical energy in the runner.
  • The rotation of the runner is driven by the force exerted by the flowing water.

Draft Tube:

  • After passing through the runner, the water exits through a draft tube.
  • The draft tube is designed to efficiently guide the water away from the turbine, minimizing energy losses.
  • The conical shape of the draft tube helps to increase the speed of the exiting water, further enhancing the overall efficiency of the turbine.

Power Generation Process:

  • The rotating shaft of the turbine is connected to a generator.
  • As the shaft turns, it drives the rotor of the generator, converting the mechanical energy into electrical energy.
  • The generated electricity can then be transmitted to the power grid for distribution.

Advantages of Kaplan Turbine

Kaplan turbines offer

  • High efficiency
  • Kaplan turbines popular choice for sustainable hydroelectric power generation.

Disadvantages of Kaplan Turbine

The Disadvantages of Kaplan turbines includes

  1. Complexity and susceptibility to cavitation and
  2. Sensitivity to sediment and debris, which can impact performance and efficiency.

Applications of Kaplan Turbine

It is designed for low-head application, which can be seen in

  • Rivers
  • Canals, and
  • Tidal power projects, contributing to global efforts in renewable energy development.


The Kaplan turbine’s working involves controlled water intake, adjustable guide vanes and blades, and efficient energy conversion, allowing it to operate optimally in low-head, high-flow conditions and contribute to sustainable hydroelectric power generation.