Tractebel

Feasibility study about the deployment underwater robots for the inspection of hydraulic turbines

Inspection ROV LBV150² in test tank (Source: DFKI GmbH)
Inspection ROV LBV150² in test tank (Source: DFKI GmbH)
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The subject of this project is the creation of a feasibility study about the deployment underwater robots for the inspection of hydraulic turbines. To assess their feasibility a visual inspection of the hydroelectric power plant “São Salvador”, which is one of Tractebel Energia’s power plants will be conducted with a remotely operated underwater vehicle (LBV 150²). This data will serve as the basis for the feasibility study.

Duration: 01.11.2011 till 30.06.2012
Donee: DFKI GmbH
Partner: Tractebel Energia
Application Field: Underwater Robotics
Related Projects: CUSLAM
Localization and mapping in confined underwater environments (09.2009- 07.2012)
CSurvey
A semi-autonomous inspection unit for underwater structures and ship hulls - subproject of CView compound-project (05.2009- 04.2012)

Project details

Cross-Section of a hydroelectric power plant. Figure Curtesy of Tomia, available under CC-BY-2.5 and GFDL licences.

In order to keep a hydroelectric power plant (HPP) operational, it has to be serviced regularly. Besides obvious technical necessity this is made mandatory by the terms of most insurance companies. The service process usually involves two main steps: inspection and, if necessary, repair. Since most of the wearing parts of a HPP reside under water, the usual process is to drain the turbines to be inspected and clean them before sending in an inspection team. This process takes a lot of time while the turbine cannot generate any power. In most of the cases no damages are found in the inspections, and the turbine can continue its work directly afterwards.

With current technology in underwater vehicles the inspection part could probably be conducted without the draining and cleaning of each turbine. While the turbine has to be stopped for the duration of the inspection, the overall time for the inspection part of the service process is reduced significantly. In the case damage is found it would still require repair, but in most of the cases the while service process would be improved significantly.

During this feasibility study the DFKI is sending two scientists with a commercial ROV (LBV 150² by Seabotix) to a HPP by Tractebel Energia, to the “São Salvador” plant at the Toncantins river in northern Brazil, where they will conduct a visual underwater inspection of one of the turbines. While the vehicle is not equipped with high-grade sensors, the data gathered will serve to assess the feasibility of such an approach. The results will be summarized in a report and presented to Tractebel Energia.

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