Kaplan, Viktor

[br]
b. 27 November 1876 Mutz, Austria
d. 23 August 1834 Unterach, Austria
[br]
Austrian engineer, inventor of the Kaplan turbine.
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Kaplan was educated at the Realschule in Vienna and went on to the Technische Hochschule to study machine construction, gaining his engineer's diploma in 1900. He spent a year in voluntary service in the Navy before entering Ganz \& Co. at Lebersdorf, where he was engaged in the manufacture of diesel engines. In 1903 he turned to an academic career, first with a professorship in kinematics, theoretical machine studies and machine construction at the Technische Hochschule in Brunn (now Brno). In 1918 he became Professor of Water Turbine Construction, remaining as such until his early retirement for health reasons in 1931.
Kaplan's first publication on turbines, in 1908, was an extension of work carried out for his doctorate at the Technische Hochschule in Vienna and concerned the Francis-type turbine. Kaplan went on to develop and patent the form of water turbine that came to bear his name. It is a reaction turbine which uses a large flow on a low head and which is made like a ship's propeller with variable-pitch vanes running in a close-fitting casing. Its application was neglected at first, but since the 1920s it has become the basic turbine for most high-powered hydroelectric plant: the turbines have been capable of around 85 per cent efficiency and modern developments have raised this figure still further. Perhaps the most impressive application of the Kaplan turbine and its derivatives is the great tidal-power scheme in the estuary of the Rance by St-Malo in France, completed in 1966. The turbines probably have to meet a greater demand for flexibility than any others, for they must operate at constant speed with variable head, as the tide ebbs and flows.
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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