Thanks for your reply.

You seem to be missing my point, which I made more clearly evident in a video presentation of a Forensic Examination of a Bonneville Index Test.  The machine in that index test had many problems as shown in the data I got from HDC.


Your response assumes the turbine has been index tested, the 3-D cam surface optimized with real-world data taken from the individual machine and the gate and blade control systems are functioning properly and within industry standards.


From my field test work and subsequent data that acquired via FOIA requests from HDC, the Kaplan units are not index tested comprehensively and the 3-D cam surfaces are not optimized individually using the real world data. The gate positioning systems seemed to be working properly, but the blade positioning systems are very bad, and were not at all within accepted industry standards.


This is the problem I'm trying to address and convey to you. The after-market modifications of the blade control system made by USACE HDC and Automated Control Systems Incorporated have made the equipment's functionality much worse than before. When I found this problem with my test instrument HDC hid it from me as best as they could, and now they are hiding it from you.


When they tell you the efficiency is some particular amount, is it measured specifically on the units with the head, gates and blades at known level and positions with the flow determined by an absolute flow measurement system, or do they show you the theoretical norm from the nominal efficiency profile graph (shown in Fig 1) for the type-family of turbine you are testing on and call it good-enough?


Figure 1 Theoretical efficiency profile and 1% envelope for a Kaplan  turbine

All turbines are not the same, and an individual turbine can have the blade to gate relationship misaligned for a variety of reasons that will cause the efficiency to not be what is predicted by the data HDC has on file.


From my 2005 field work experience, regarding the blade to head and gate 3-D cam tracking accuracy, responsiveness and repeatability were very poor on the units at McNary.


A FOIA requested data set from a subsequent field test of HDC's reproduction of my Index Test Box, called the Gate Blade Optimizer (GBO) which was used to record data from Unit 9 at McNary in 2007 shows this blade to head and gate tracking was still very bad.


Figure 2 Unit 9 Blade to Head and Gate tracking from 2007 GBO field test.

The heavy blue line with equally-spaced red lines above and below it are the ideal, on-cam position of the blades at the existing head as the gates open and the very heavy, meandering blue line is the actual blade to head and gate tracking of the unit. This unit was a mess, and there is no reason to believe they’ve gotten it fixed even now.


It was said that another example of the need for individual index testing, optimization and field testing is that the original 16 turbines for The Dalles Dam, purchased together under a single contact did not perform very closely.


When tested with current meters (not index tested) in the 1960’s their peak efficiencies were found to vary by 7% and the power at which peak efficiency occurred varied over a range of 10 megawatts. They needed to be individually index tested and optimized to maximize their operating efficiency individually.


From every indication, this was never done comprehensively, only one or two of the units were index tested and optimized and the exact same 3-D cam surface was installed in the rest of the machines and they were assumed to be OK. With the stakes on the table, it seems that “due diligence” of actually index testing and optimizing the machines individually should be carried out.


You could verify this. Ask them about it, and request to see the individual index test data, test reports and updated 3-D cam surface data for all of the units. Without this specific, detailed information for every single unit indicating that a proper job has been done in all cases, anything they tell you about the efficiency performance of any untested machines is nonsense.


Sincerely yours,

Douglas Albright




In a message dated 6/28/2011 2:24:35 P.M. Central Daylight Time, writes:

Doug, I've been on the move a lot lately so haven't had a chance to respond. As I indicated on the phone, our current direction in turbine operation has shifted away from a strict adherence to efficiency to an emphasis on what we call "open or best geometry". The idea here is that fish survival (based on extensive model work and limited biological studies) is more likely linked to balancing the best possible pathway through the turbine units while staying away from extreme pressure changes. Our approach is to advocate for the operation of turbine units near the upper end or, in some cases, beyond the upper end of the 1% efficiency range. This operation does a better job of aligning stay vane and wicket gates, steepening blade angles, reducing hub swirl, and filling out the draft tubes (which also helps improve tailrace egress conditions). We realize that forcing more flow through these units also decreases pressure nadirs and we have a fairly extensive biological data set that will help us avoid moving into pressures that may harm fish. Our intention is to move towards replacing the current 1% efficiency guidelines with new operating ranges as they are developed for the various groups of turbines in the system. This work is occurring under RPA 27 of the 2008-2010 Biological Opinion. There are a couple of reasons why we are not as concerned with turbine efficiency as we once were. First, the more recent fish survival reviews have not shown a strong correlation between efficiency and survival (reference the Skalski 2002 North American Journal of Fisheries Management paper) and second, the combination of spill, surface passage routes and bypasses have been very effective a moving fish passage away from turbine units which greatly reduces the effect turbine improvements have on improving overall fish passage survival. Thanks for your interest in our issues out here. Sincerely, Gary Fredricks

On 5/3/2011 3:20 PM, wrote:


Thanks for speaking with me this morning. I'd like to keep our conversation off the record and just get the straight-skinny on what's happing in your bailiwick.

The PBS Nature move, Salmon, Running the Gauntlet can be seen at this link.

Good stuff. I'm going to find the folks in this movie and talk to them about turbine control systems and fish passage.

The Washington Post article about Larry Craig is at:

What I'm requesting from you is information regarding the current understanding of fish survival in turbines and how it will go in the future. Would you characterize the original 1% envelope as a "knee-jerk" reaction to the problem?

I'm shifting the focus of my Index Test Box marketing to connect two concepts:

1. NOAA Fisheries' BIOP has linked increasing turbine efficiency to increasing fish survival rates, and

2. index testing and optimizing turbines increases their operating efficiencies,

Therefore, index testing and optimizing Kaplan turbines will increase fish survival rates.

And not just one of a family index testing, but comprehensive, every single turbine gets index tested and optimized, individually.

This would also require strict adherence to accepted, published industry standards by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and International Electro-technical Commission.

You said the 1% envelope is no longer the "law of the land."

What exactly is the new guiding principals and stated "law of the land?"

Doug Albright

Actuation Test Equipment Company