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Center for hydrokinetic power development planned for Louisiana

Plans are under way for establishing a center for development of hydrokinetic turbines that could be used to generate hydroelectric power from the Mississippi and other rivers. The center will be developed with the help of a recently-awarded $3 million federal stimulus grant.

Tulane University is guiding the RiverSphere project in Louisiana, which university officials said could help to advance the science of hydrokinetic power.

The 22,000-square-foot center is planned for an existing building at the Port of New Orleans. Plans call for laboratories, a barge where turbines can be river-tested and administrative space. RiverSphere will promote development, testing, demonstration and commercialization of renewable resources, including hydrokinetic power, local media reported.

Recently, Scotland-based engineering firm MTDS selected the Amazon River in Brazil as the demonstration site for a prototype hydrokinetic turbine designed to produce hydroelectric energy from slow flowing rivers.

MTDS is based in Achlibster in Caithness, close to the Pentland Firth, where marine energy devices are to be installed as part of a major project.

Tulane said a handful of companies and property owners have expressed interest in using RiverSphere to test and deploy turbines. The center hopes to have a testing barge in place within a year, with the center becoming fully operational in about two years, reports indicate.

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