Developing New Water Turbine Technology for Clean Hydropower
Company Name: Percheron Power, LLC
Program Office: Wind and Water Power Technology
Location: Kennewick, WA
Award Amount ($): $200,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Waiting for PNSO Approval
Participating Lab(s): Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
There are thousands of canals, river barriers and other water diversions across the United States that alter the flow of water in ways that can be tapped to generate clean, renewable energy. Over the past decade, the Archimedes Hydrodynamic Screw (AHS) has become the leading turbine of choice for this type of site in Europe. However, there are no AHS hydroelectric plants yet in the United States; nor are there any American AHS manufacturers. The primary barrier to large-scale deployment of this technology in the U.S. is the cost of plant capital compared to the price paid for power generation.
Achieving a significantly lower capital cost is therefore critical to rapidly deploying this emerging turbine technology in the U.S. Percheron is building on existing steel AHS turbine technology to develop a lower-cost, optimized turbine made with less costly composite materials and incorporating near-net-shape manufacturing processes that reduce the need for expensive finishing.
Developing the new turbine requires computer simulations using mathematical models for optimizing the water volume carried through the turbine. Working with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will enable Percheron to improve the composite AHS blade shape and design by taking critical variables into account. The results from Percheron’s water volume optimization models will be coupled with complex super-computer models developed by PNNL. The result will be an optimized prototype design that will be tested in a hydraulics laboratory and in the field.
PROJECT INNOVATION + ADVANTAGES
Compared to conventional hydro turbines, AHS turbine plants offer a compact installation that avoids some traditional infrastructure costs. They are simple to install, operate, and maintain. Studies in the United Kingdom have found that AHS turbines are also fish-friendly, resulting in zero mortality and only minor and recoverable loss of scales.
Percheron is developing improvements to AHS turbines including lighter-weight turbine assemblies and modular designs that can contribute to reduced costs for new turbine plant developments. Stronger designs can lead to improved hydraulic performance with higher efficiency and power output and theoretically optimum blade designs, while also lowering costs and lessening the time needed for — and the environmental impact of — installation and removal.
New turbine installations can generate income for property owners and civil operators. Commercializing this technology in the United States can also lead to the creation of domestic jobs in advanced manufacturing, installation and maintenance.
Power derived from water sources is clean and, if plants are designed well, can be minimally disruptive to local ecosystems. Generating more electricity from clean sources reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps the United States meet its emissions-reduction goals.
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