The main classification depends upon the type of action of the water on the turbine. These are (i) Impulse turbine (ii) Reaction Turbine.

In the case of impulse turbine all the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy in the nozzles.

The imPulse provided by the jets is used to turn the turbine wheel. The pressure inside the turbine is atmospheric.

This type is found suitable when the available potential energy is high and the flow available is comparatively low. Some people call this type as tangential flow units.

(ii) In reaction turbines the available potential energy is progressively converted in the turbines rotors and the reaction of the accelerating water causes the turning of the wheel.

These are again divided into radial flow, mixed flow and axial flow machines. Radial flow machines are found suitable for moderate levels of potential energy and medium quantities of flow.

The axial machines are suitable for low levels of potential energy and large flow rates. The potential energy available is generally denoted as “head available”.

With this terminology plants are designated as “high head”, “medium head” and “low head” plants.

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