How Does a Water Turbine Work?

water-turbine-work Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District/CC-BY-2.0

Water turbines convert the motion of moving water into rotating mechanical energy by catching the water with large blades. They are important to the structure and function of hydropower plants. There are different models of water turbines, but all perform the same basic function of converting the energy of the moving water into the revolutions of a shaft.

A hydropower plant converts the energy of naturally moving water, such as a river, into usable electrical energy. In order to do this, the plant needs a machine that can transfer the motion of water into a mechanical form. The water turbine serves this purpose. A turbine is usually disc-shaped and has a number of large, curved blades for catching the water's motion. This type of model is referred to as a Francis Turbine, and it is one of the most common types of water turbines

To convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, many generators require a revolutionary force. This is why a generator is placed at the top of a shaft that connects to the water turbine. As the turbine catches the naturally moving water in its blade and rotates, the generator receives the necessary force and begins to generate electrical energy.