Hydraulic Turbine Definition, 4 Types, Working Principle, Advantages & Disadvantages [PDF]

In this article, we shall cover the definition, types, working principles, advantages, and disadvantages of Hydraulic Turbines. We have also provided a PDF for the same.

In simple terms, the Hydraulic Turbine is like Power producing machine. The water turbine was developed in the 19th Century and widely used for industrial power before electrical grids. This is mostly used for electric power generation. They harness clean and renewable energy sources.

Flowing water is directed at the Blades of a turbine runner, creating a force on the blades. Since the runner is spinning, the force acts through a distance. In this way, the energy is transferred from the water flow to the turbine.

What is Hydraulic Turbine?

A hydraulic Turbine is a device that converts the energy in a stream of fluid into mechanical energy by passing the extreme through a system of fixed and moving blades and causing the wheel to rotate.

Hydraulic Turbine
Photo by Wikipedia

Hydraulic Turbine Classification

It is broadly categorized into four types which are as following

According to the type of energy at Inlet

  • Impulse Turbine: The energy is in the form of kinetic. e.g. Pelton wheel, Turbo wheel.
  • Reaction Turbine: The energy is in the form of both Kinetic and Pressure. e.g. Tubular, Bulb, Propeller, Francis turbine.

According to the direction of flow through Runner

  • Tangential flow: water flows in a direction tangential to the path of rotational, i.e. Perpendicular to both axial and radial directions.
  • Radial outward flow e.g. Forneyron turbine.
  • Axial flow: Water flows parallel to the axis of the turbine. e.g. Girard, Jonval, Kaplan turbine.
  • Mixed flow: Water enters radially at the outer periphery and leaves axially. e.g. the Modern Francis turbine.

According to the head under which the turbine works

  • High head, (Impulse turbine. e.g. Pelton turbine.)
  • Medium head, (Reaction turbine. e.g. Francis turbine.)
  • Low head, (Reaction turbine. e.g. Kaplan turbine, propeller turbine.)

According to the specific speed of the turbine

  • Low specific speed, (Impulse turbine. e.g. Pelton wheel.)
  • Medium-specific speed, (Reaction turbine. e.g. Francis wheel.)
  • High specific speed, (Reaction turbine. e.g. Kaplan and Propeller turbine.) 

Hydraulic Turbine Working Principle

So, the working principle of the hydraulic turbine is, according to Newton’s law, A force is directly proportional to the change in momentum. If there is any change in the momentum of fluid then a force is generated. The hydraulic turbine blades (In the case of the Pelton wheel Turbine) are provided against the flow of water which changes its momentum of it.

Hydraulic Turbine
Photo By Science Photo Library

As the momentum is changing, a resulting pressure force is generated which rotates the rotor or turbine. As the change in momentum is high, the force generated is high, which increases energy conversion. So the blade or buckets are designed so that they can change the maximum momentum of the water. This turbine is used in a hydroelectric power plant.

Hydraulic Turbine Advantages

  • This is a renewable energy source. The water energy can be used again and again.
  • This turbine has high efficiency.
  • The running cost of the Hydraulic turbine is less as compared to other turbines.
  • It is used for power generation due to the use of dams.
  • The environmental pollution in this system is negligible.
  • It is easy to maintain.
  • The main advantages of the Hydraulic turbine are that at the turbine place, people can visit and come across all the main parts in detail. This is like an open system.

Hydraulic Turbine Disadvantages

  • The Initial Installation cost is very high.
  • This system or plant takes several decades to produce a profit.
  • It can develop at only a few sites where the proper amount of water is available. 

Location Of Hydro electric power plant in india

Location Of Hydro electric power plant in India


What are the hydraulic turbine examples

There are different types of hydraulic turbines designed for various applications. Some common examples include the Pelton turbine, which is known for its use in high-head, low-flow scenarios such as mountainous regions. Then we have the Francis turbine, a versatile turbine used in medium-head applications, like hydroelectric power plants. Lastly, there’s the Kaplan turbine, which is suitable for low-head, high-flow conditions, often used in river and tidal power generation. These turbines play an essential role in harnessing the power of water to generate clean and renewable energy.

What is Francis Turbine efficiency formula

The efficiency of a Francis turbine can be calculated using the formula

Efficiency = (Power output / Power input) * 100.

How is the Francis turbine blade design useful

The design of Francis turbine blades is essential for efficiently converting the energy of flowing water into mechanical energy, allowing the turbine to operate effectively and generate electricity from hydropower.

What is meant by water turbine head

In the context of water turbines, “head” refers to the height difference or drop through which water falls or flows before it reaches the turbine. It represents the potential energy available in the water due to its elevated position. The greater the head, the higher the potential energy, which can be effectively harnessed by the turbine to generate power. Head is an important factor in determining the performance and efficiency of a water turbine system, as it directly influences the pressure and velocity of the water, affecting the amount of mechanical energy that can be extracted from the flowing or falling water.


To sum up, hydraulic turbines are mechanical devices that convert the energy from moving water into mechanical energy, which can be used to generate electricity. They come in different types and sizes, including Pelton, Francis, and Kaplan turbines, each designed for specific applications. Hydraulic turbines operate on the principle of impulse or reaction, depending on the type of turbine, and they have numerous advantages, such as high efficiency, low maintenance costs, and low emissions.

However, they also have some disadvantages, such as high initial costs, limited availability of suitable water sources, and potential negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Overall, hydraulic turbines are an important source of renewable energy and will continue to play a critical role in meeting our energy needs in a sustainable way.


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