This paper presents laser Doppler anemometry (LDA) measurements within the runner blade channels and at the runner outlet of a Kaplan turbine model. The model was investigated at six operating points located on two propeller curves of the turbine to study the flow condition during on-cam and off-cam operations. Main and secondary flows within and after the runner were analyzed, and the effects of the hub and tip clearances on the velocity fields within and after the runner were evaluated. Operation of the turbine at flow rates that are lower than the designed rate for the corresponding propeller curve resulted in vortex breakdown and the formation of a rotating vortex rope (RVR). The RVR formation produced an asymmetrical velocity distribution within and after the runner. The results demonstrated the occurrence of an oscillating flow with the same frequency as the vortex rope within the blade channels located upstream of the RVR. This results in an asymmetric flow through the runner and oscillating forces on the runner blades. The measured velocities indicated that the geometrical asymmetries in the runner manufacturing process resulted in various flow asymmetries at the measured sections. The asymmetries were up to 3% within the runner and 7% at the runner outlet.

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