Background and Introduction

Kathmandu University (KU) had conceived the idea of building a turbine testing facility way back in 1997 with the aim to support hydropower development in the country. Initial efforts to raise fund started with discussion with Rural Energy Development Program / United Nations Development Program with the aim to ensure quality of micro hydro turbines. Detail preliminary designs were made in 2000/2001 in co-operation with Energy Sector Assistance Program / Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) for whom feasibility study carried out by IT Power, UK, recommended KU as the appropriate institute where turbine testing facility could be built. The co-operation was initiated through Sector Program Support of DANIDA to establish similar lab for certifying quality of turbine for subsidy program of Alternative Energy Promotion Center. Since 2005, series of discussion took place between Norwgian Agency for Development Corporation (NORAD), KU and Nepalese industries to establish a Turbine Testing Lab in Nepal. In 2009, an agreement was signed between KU and NORAD regarding financial support for construction of TTL. A total sum of USD 1.3 million was expended for the construction of the lab, of which NORAD funded 60%; Nepalese industries and institutes also supported this endeavor and contributed 20%, whereas remaining 20% was contributed by KU itself. The lab was designed by faculties of KU with support from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). NTNU has a similar lab, Waterpower Laboratory, which was established in 1917 and was refurbished and modernized in 2001. So their guidance from the initial design phase of TTL was found to be very useful.

Civil works and hydro-mechanical works for TTL were done by Nepalese companies, Munna and Acharya Construction Co. Pvt Ltd and Nepal Hydro and Electric Ltd respectively. Whereas ITT Norge AS, a Norwegian company, supplied and installed the pump and control system for the lab. Throughout the construction phase standard practice of quality control had been implemented. All the installations were tested, and those not passing the QC test were rebuilt. Pumps installed at TTL were tested at the test center of ITT -FLYGT, Austria in presence of representative from TTL. The approval of the test results was done according to the EN ISO 9906 Class I. Hydrostatic tests of High Density Polyethylene pipes and Stainless Steel pipes, Dye penetration test of welding joints and deflection test of Electrical Overhead Travelling crane were conducted. Commissioning of the lab was done by personnel from Waterpower Laboratory, NTNU and ITT Norge AS. It took 2.5 years for the construction of the lab.The Lab was jointly inaugurated by His Excellency Mr. Alf Arne Ramslien, Royal Norwegian Ambassador to Nepal and Prof. Suresh Raj Sharma, Vice Chancellor of KU on November 10, 2011. KU has established an independent Operation and Management Committee including members from KU, Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University and a representative from local industries for better utilization of the lab for education, research and industrial purposes.

TTL is the only lab in the world which can perform tests with 30 m natural head. The location and topography of KU has provided the opportunity to place an upper  reservoir so as to create a 30 m natural head.  The lab has two centrifugal pumps  each of 250 kW with variable frequency drive (VFD) for each pump. Each pump  can produce   maximum flow of 0.25 m3/s and maximum head of 75 m. The pumps  can be connected in series and parallel combination producing a maximum head of  150 m and maximum flow of 0.5 m3/s respectively.  TTL has the capacity to  perform prototype test up to 300 kW turbines and perform model test for larger  turbines. The lab has provision to have four test rigs at a time, along with notches  and water volume measurement arrangements for calibration of measuring  instruments. Further, the lab intends to include state of art technologies such as  Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Finite Element Method (FEM) analysis. Test rigs will be installed in the lab to perform the tests of the hydro-mechanical components. TTL is working in close cooperation with NTNU, Norway. Technical support and guidance will be provided by NTNU in further development of TTL. TTL also aims to provide specialized training to engineers and technicians so as to share the output of the lab.