• FA-108027 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Energy & Mining
Mechanical Engineering
1910 - 1919
  • Dietmar Linzbacher

First (commercially-used) Kaplan turbine

In 1913, Viktor Kaplan's turbine received Austrian patent no. 74244. The rotor, similar to a propeller, with its adjustable blades, is the main feature of this vertical-axis turbine.

The distributor of the turbine is also adjustable. The blind-like slats steer the mass of water flowing in so that it hits the blades of the rotor in parallel to the turbine shaft. This control is mechanically complex, but quickly and effectively evens out the fluctuations in water level that frequently occur in rivers.

The optimized design of the draught-tube elbow was also the result of Kaplan's experiments in his laboratory at the Technical College in Brno. The essential features of the Kaplan turbine were ready; only a reference installation was missing, which was needed to persuade the many sceptics and to find turbine manufacturers as licensees for the turbine. The outbreak of World War I delayed this for years.

The entrepreneurial risk in constructing the first turbine was taken on by the Storek company in Brno, which had already supported Kaplan in the building of his test laboratory. The client was the braid and knitwear factory in Velm (Lower Austria), which belonged to relatives of Kaplan. Finished in 1918, due to the tensions between the new country of Czechoslovakia and the rest of Austria there was a risk that the turbine would not reach its destination. It was finally installed in 1919.

With a head of just 2.3 metres, it attained 25.8 horsepower at a specific speed of ns=800 rpm. During takeover trials, it achieved an efficiency of 84 %. Kaplan had these values verified by the Chair of Hydraulic Motors at the Technische Hochschule Wien (Vienna Technical College). Professor Budau reported on the results in the ‘Wasserwirtschaft’ periodical. The breakthrough had been made. From 1919 - 1958, the first commercially-used Kaplan turbine drove the machines in the factory in Velm.

Designer: Viktor Kaplan
Manufacturer: Stahlhütte Ignas Storek, Brno
Year of construction: 1919

Inv.Nr. 16776/1
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