This stainless steel turbine runner was removed in 1989 from the Bureau of Reclamation's Crystal Dam Powerplant in Montrose, Colorado. Weighing about 8½ metric tons, it is the rotating part of a Francis-type reaction turbine (named after its invenor James B. Francis) and is the type most widely used by Reclamation. Although this runner is five times smaller than the runners inside the Glen Canyon Powerplant, it operates in the same way.
To generate hydropower, Glen Canyon Dam creates a "head" or height from which the water flows through a pipe (penstock) from the reservoir to the turbine. The fast-moving water pushes against the blades of the turbine runner, causing the runner to rotate like a pinwheel in the wind. The runner is connected by a large vertical shaft to the rotating assembly of the generator. The shaft transmits the turbine's mechanical energy obtained from the falling water to the generator for conversion to electrical energy, or electricity. When the water has moved through the turbine, it flows downriver, unchanged, to serve other needs.