The Comprehensive Guide to Cross Flow Turbines: A Detailed Exploration

Cross flow turbines, also known as Oscillating Water Column (OWC) turbines, are a type of turbine that extracts energy from flowing water by using the kinetic energy of the water to move a set of blades. The blades are typically arranged in a cross-flow configuration, where the water flows perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the blades. This design allows the turbine to extract energy from the flow in both the axial and radial directions, making it more efficient than traditional axial-flow turbines.

Understanding the Performance Metrics of Cross Flow Turbines

One key metric for evaluating the performance of a cross flow turbine is its coefficient of power (CP), which is a measure of the efficiency of the turbine in extracting energy from the flow. The CP is defined as the ratio of the power extracted by the turbine to the total power available in the flow. For a cross flow turbine, the CP can be calculated using the following equation:

CP = P / (1/2 * ρ * Sref * V0^3)

– P is the power extracted by the turbine
– ρ is the density of the water
– Sref is the reference area of the turbine
– V0 is the velocity of the flow

Another important metric for cross flow turbines is the coefficient of torque (CT), which is a measure of the torque produced by the turbine. The CT is defined as the ratio of the torque to the product of the reference area, the density of the water, and the square of the velocity of the flow. For a cross flow turbine, the CT can be calculated using the following equation:

CT = T / (1/2 * ρ * Sref * V0^2 * R)

– T is the torque produced by the turbine
– ρ is the density of the water
– Sref is the reference area of the turbine
– V0 is the velocity of the flow
– R is the radius of the turbine

Technical Specifications of Cross Flow Turbines

cross flow turbine

In terms of technical specifications, cross flow turbines typically have the following characteristics:

  • Diameter: Around 1-2 meters
  • Height: Around 2-3 meters
  • Materials: Stainless steel or aluminum
  • Number of Blades: 3 to 12
  • Blade Material: Lightweight, durable materials such as fiberglass or carbon fiber

Applications of Cross Flow Turbines

Cross flow turbines are often used in small-scale hydropower applications, such as micro-hydroelectric power systems, where they can be used to generate electricity from flowing water. They are also used in tidal energy systems, where they can be used to extract energy from the movement of the tides.

Factors Affecting the Performance of Cross Flow Turbines

The performance of a cross flow turbine is influenced by several key factors, including:

  1. Blade Design: The shape, angle, and number of blades can significantly impact the turbine’s efficiency and power output.
  2. Rotor Diameter: The diameter of the rotor affects the swept area and the amount of water that can be captured by the turbine.
  3. Tip Speed Ratio: The ratio of the blade tip speed to the water flow velocity, known as the tip speed ratio, can optimize the turbine’s performance.
  4. Inlet and Outlet Geometry: The design of the inlet and outlet sections of the turbine can influence the flow patterns and energy extraction.
  5. Rotational Speed: The rotational speed of the turbine can be adjusted to match the water flow conditions and maximize power output.

Numerical Simulation and Optimization of Cross Flow Turbines

Researchers have used numerical simulation techniques to predict the performance of cross flow turbines and optimize their design. These simulations often involve computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models that can accurately capture the complex flow patterns and energy extraction processes within the turbine.

One example is the study by Hall and Brizzolara, which used numerical simulation to investigate the performance of a cross flow marine hydrokinetic turbine. The study included detailed information on the equations used to calculate the CP and CT of the turbine, as well as the influence of various design parameters on the turbine’s performance.

Another study by Sammartano et al. focused on the design of high-efficiency cross flow hydro turbines. The researchers explored the key geometrical parameters that affect the turbine’s performance, such as the blade angle, the number of blades, and the rotor diameter.

Optimal Design Process for Cross Flow Banki Turbines

In addition to numerical simulation, researchers have also developed optimization techniques for the design of cross flow Banki turbines. A recent study by Sánchez-Domínguez et al. proposed a new and more complete design process for these turbines, which includes traditional design procedures as well as additional considerations such as the influence of the draft tube and the selection of the best blade profile.


Cross flow turbines are a versatile and efficient technology for extracting energy from flowing water, with applications in both small-scale hydropower and tidal energy systems. By understanding the key performance metrics, technical specifications, and design factors that influence their performance, engineers and researchers can continue to optimize and improve the design of these turbines to maximize their energy output and efficiency.


  1. Hall, T. (2012). Numerical Simulation of a Cross Flow Marine Hydrokinetic Turbine. University of Washington.
  2. Sammartano, V., Aricò, C., Carravetta, A., Fecarotta, O., & Tucciarelli, T. (2013). Banki-Michell Optimal Design by Computational Fluid Dynamics Testing and Hydrodynamic Analysis. Energies, 11(2), 267.
  3. Sánchez-Domínguez, A., Fernández-Francos, J., Fernández-Francos, D., & Fernández-Francos, A. J. (2022). Optimal design process of crossflow Banki turbines. Applied Energy, 308, 118352.