TIME FOR REFURBISHMENT AND REDUCING ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT
The 4 x 15 MW vertical Francis West Kiewa hydropower plant, originally completed in 1955, was more than due for a refurbishment after 56 years of operation. The plant’s owner, AGL Hydro, wanted to use the refurbishment to implement hydrostatic water guide bearings which use water instead of oil as a lubricant, greatly reducing the environmental impact should a leak happen. Hydrostatic water guide bearings do not have a shaft seal which has the added benefit of reduced maintenance.
IF THE EQUIPMENT DOESN'T EXIST, INVENT IT!
Normally, a turbine shaft would be inserted in the guide bearing, like a finger in a ring but West Kiewa’s existing shaft was to be left in place so insertion wasn’t possible. The only solution for GE was to develop a guide bearing split sleeve in two bolted parts. This sleeve would wrap around the turbine shaft like a belt around a waist.
The two part hydrostatic water guide bearing had additional advantages as well. It was manufactured prior to installation onsite which reduced machine outage. Also, as it is in two pieces, it is removable for easier maintenance down the road. Finally, it reduced shaft line vibrations, increasing machine stability.
West Kiewa’s two-part hydrostatic water guide bearing with split bolted sleeve has been in operation since 2013, doing its part to help AGL Hydro deliver renewable energy to the people of Australia.