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Actuation Test Equipment Co.
3393 Eddie Road
Winnebago, Illinois 61088  
Doug Albright DudleyDevices@Aol.com
(815) 335-1143  
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A brief history of the Index Test Box project                                                    

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Introduction and background information
WGC 3-D Cam CPU Manual

1978 - Woodward Governor Company developed a digital electronic 3-D cam for Kaplan turbine runner blades, replacing the hydromechanical 2-D Cam deployed at the time.  

Cannon Dam Index Test

1985-To increase sales of 3-D Cams, integral index-testing was offered to tune-up the unit by optimizing its 3-D Cam profile. The first Index Test Box (ITB) Prototype was initially field tested at Clarence Cannon dam on Mark Twain Lake in Missouri, USA. This test validated the Constant Power Method of testing by a direct comparison of test results from the new Index Test Box and the industry standard classical method of index testing. Results were positive, leading to productionization of the ITB and an offering for public sale. 

The Constant Power method was used for this test. This test is run "on the governor," with the unit operating normally - as far as the dispatcher and control room can tell. The ITB sends a blade-offset value to the 3-D cam, which pushes the blade above or below the on-cam position, which changes power generation level. Power is returned to the SetPoint by the normal action of the governor.  The effect of this is to sweep the gates and blades together along the "Constant Power" curves shown at left. Corresponding efficiency curves on a second page locate the peak efficiency blade to gate point.
PGE-PHP-2 1986 Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in Portland Oregon purchased the first production ITB in 1987 for a "proof of concept" test for potential use in the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) power plant. This test was conducted by DoE at Portland General Electric Bull Run Power House #2 (PGE-PHP-2). Successful test results were reported by engineers from PGE, DoE and Woodward.
Click here: Marmot Dam Multimedia Gallery: Bull Run generator | PGE
Bull Run DataThe Constant Power method was used for this second field test in a DoE "Proof of Concept" test at Bull Run. Success was such that DoE offered to purchase 113 ITBs from Woodward Governor, which would have included new governors and 3-D cams. Total cost of complete FCRPS turbine control system upgrades and ITB installations was estimated >$25-million. USACE HDC declined  this offer, preferring to design and build their own automated index testing device.
1987 Hydro Review Article 1987-Woodward's Index Test Box was introduced in Hydro Review magazine concurrent with the PGE-PHP-2 test. This article reports on the 1985 prototype field-test at Clarence Cannon Dam, describes index testing conventional methods and the new Constant Power method, and explains the new Index Test Box methods and techniques.
United States Patent # 4,794,544 "Method and Apparatus for Automatically Index Testing a Kaplan Turbine" was awarded to protect this new technology. 
1990 - USACE made an "automated index test device" after seeing Woodward's ITB in operation. Bonneville Dam Field-test data was forwarded to BPA for analysis.
Patent Plaque Woodward's hydro division was moved to new facilities in Stevens Point Wisconsin, USA and the ITB project was transferred to other Woodward personnel. The next field-test was unsuccessful and the hydro division faltered, failed and was sold to General Electric. The ITB patent went along with this sale, but the technology it protected was never utilized. The patent expired in 2003 and the ITB technology came into the public sector. Actuation Test Equipment Company was  established to develop and market this new technology in 1993, but before any offerings were made, USACE Hydro Design Center (HDC) contacted ATECo to inquire if an updated ITB could be purchased from the inventor(s) listed on the ITB patent.
/McNary Dam 2005 -The original Index Test Box design was updated to  ITBRev-1. Two sole-source solicitations led to USACE purchasing one ITB on a sole-sourced contract for a second "proof of concept" test at McNary Dam on the Columbia River in Umatilla, Oregon. Testing at McNary in December 2005 was ultimately successful, as described in ATECo's test report,  HDC's Memorandum for the Record and  HDC's reports to DOE BPA Hydro Optimization Team (HOT) meetings. All of the Government documents were acquired via FOIA requests.
McNary DataThe Constant Power method was used for this USACE "Proof of Concept" Test at McNary. Test was mostly successful, but low flows were unmeasureable due to extremely noisy Winter-Kennedy signal. A rolling-average filtering algorithm was designed for the ITB signal conditioner that allowed robust signal response while blocking high-frequency noise.

Ice Harbor Dam

2006-A second field test at Ice Harbor Dam was conducted  to verify the fixes and that USACE personnel could operate the ITB unassisted. The test was a parallel data collection where USACE's normal data acquisition system was used for the index-test while the Index Test Box was connected in parallel to continuously record SCADA system data streams. 

The ITB data was downloaded and sent to ATECo for analysis.  The test results were sent to USACE HDC for comparison with the officila COE data reduction. The comparison and all COE results were withheld from ATECo with no comment as to why.

Slide 2The second field-test was reported with a Powerpoint presentation by USACE personnel to the HOT on 3 March 2006. This document was acquired from BPA by FOIA request. The conclusion on the ITB field testing was that ITB test results were:; this test was even more successful. FOIA requests to HDC and BPA were necessary to learn that HDC had reported to BPA HOT that the "Results virtually identical to those obtained using COE data acq system," and that ATECo's ITB was "Ready for ‘unattended, automated’ data collection."

2008-A second magazine article to introduce the new Index Test Box currently being offered, highlighting  the new Constant Power method and statistical analysis techniques to determine SteadyState conditions. New features include updated computers & software, relying on "lessons-learned" from the experience with the Columbia river field tests as a guide. The instrument configuration is intended for use at index testing and long-term monitoring of turbine performance.
This article is also at IWP&DC Website

2010 FOIA requests to BPA returned a HOT meeting agenda scheduling USACE presenting information about the Gate Blade Optimizer (GBO), a new government funded version of an "automated index testing device."

Google Earth Arial View
2008-ATECo initiated a project to optimize the three Kaplan bulb-units at on the St. Marys River in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario Canada. This Google Earth aerial view shows the layout of the approach and discharge canal of the power plant setting. Flow and wave dynamics present a difficult problem for controlling these turbines and getting SteadyState data for efficiency performance testing.

Excellent instrumentation and data logging equipment that were already present in the power plant facilitated a new  index-testing method. Data collection uses the existing power plant instrumentation during normal operation. A few modifications to the instrumentation and turbine control system made index testing during normal operation easy and economical.  

Data Collection was hampered by constantly changing water levels and the mile-long approach canal to the powerhouse, the 20-mile long run of the river setting and the flow is shared with two other hydroelectric power plant, all of them starting and stopping independent of each  other.    

2016  Dorena Dam Index Test



Index_Test_Analysis_for_Kaplan_Turbine_at Dorena_Dam 85_Ft

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