Designing Turbine Blades for Hydropower Plants with CAD from the Cloud

Due to the complexity of the underlying free-form shape, the 3D design of a hydraulic turbine blade at Stellba is a long process. In the traditional CAD design approach it is necessary to use a lot of basic operations when modelling such a blade. These operations are mostly repetitive and similar for each design. The goal of this case study is to reduce the amount of time needed to design a popular blade type called Kaplan blade. In Stellba's case, such a design process happens typically bi-weekly. An additional goal is to save, manage and share data by using the Cloud and a Cloud-based PLM system.

The Solution
To meet the challenge, the CAD system Topsolid by Missler (a French independent software vendor SME) and product lifecycle management software by Jotne (a Norwegian SME) were used in a new approach where the design process is accelerated and optimized by using dedicated functionalities specific to turbine blades. These functionalities are added to the base CAD system via the Cloud. Before – in an error-prone process – the end user's specialist had to perform 40 different operations on each surface to get the desired solid model. Now, the designer is smoothly guided through the process with improved usability, resulting in fewer errors and helping to achieve good results with a minimum number of operations.

Stellba's process to design a new blade is in fact running roughly 25 times faster than before, reducing the design time from 8 hours to less than 20 minutes. Consequently, Stellba is now able to create more designs in a given period and to try out more possibilities to improve the quality of their blades. In addition they can provide their design models to other applications via the Cloud-based PLM, e.g. for a successive simulation step.

Organizations Involved
Jotne EPM Technology- Norway
University of Nottingham- United Kingdom
Stellba Hydro GmbH & Co KG- Germany
Arctur - Slovenia