Hydroelectric river power
The potential for generating hydroelectric river power has been overlooked. At least until now. This cross-flow turbine from KWRiver can capture the power of the flow of water over the weir of a low-head dam. A low-head dam is defined as one having an elevation difference of less than 15 feet.
The turbine can fit into dams with little or no structural modification needed. The system is even compatible in a river with a smooth flow of water with a current of 10 m³/s and a small inclination.
Almost plug and play
KWRiver explains: “Once we get in there, put it in place and anchor it down, that’s it. When the water starts flowing in and turns the generator, we make electricity, and we’re able to put it in the distribution grid.”
The device was developed by company partner Fred Williams, who founded KWRiver Hydroelectric in 2013 with Paul Kling, a 30-plus year energy industry veteran who previously worked for Duke Energy in various capacities.
Williams was awarded patents for the turbine in 1999 and 2005. He tested the device with the help of the Electric Power Resource Institute at Central State University (CSU) in Wilberforce, Ohio, which provided funding. Laboratory testing included building a scale-model dam and a 70-foot hydraulic flume, which simulated river conditions.
Hydroelectric flowing with potential
Every country has a lot of river opportunities to put the turbine technology to use. KWRiver plans next year to install the first prototype in Ohio’s Great Miami River’s south dam.
When installed, most of the water will flow through the turbine and eliminate two dangerous boils. Each turbine is designed to generate between 50 and 300 kilowatts of energy. The company hopes to place turbines at low-head dam locations where five or more of the units can be placed at a time, which would enable the production of more than 1.5 megawatts of power. According to the company, this is enough energy to supply 1,000 average homes.
Green 24/7 energy
Hydroelectric power is interesting because it is a 24-hour reliable product. KWRiver Hydroelectric is confident in the turbine innovation’s future. Two additional patents for the technology are pending. These patents are related to enabling the turbine’s electric generator to be placed on shore.
“There really isn’t a technology that comes close to ours,” the company says, noting that the product has been designed to be durable.
The turbine also is built to be environmentally friendly. “What we attempted to do was keep the rotational speed of the turbine less than 60 revolutions per minute,” it adds, noting that this prevents small fish that slip inside the turbine from being hurt. “We’ve got lots of good ideas coming through.”
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