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Amjet unveils new low-head turbine generator unit

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A new generator unit unveiled at HydroVision International 2014 by manufacturer Amjet Turbine Systems LLC (ATS) has earned the Iowa-based company a US$1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II program.

The grant is part of DOE's efforts to encourage small business in the development of advanced energy technologies, and will support Amjet in the manufacturing of its new low-head turbine generators.

The units, called the ATS-63, are designed for new and existing sites with five to 42 feet in head, and 310 to 925 cubic feet per second of flow. The units can be installed in series at higher-head sites, or in parallel at sites with higher flows, Amjet said.

"We are excited to introduce the ATS-63 to the marketplace," vice president of technology Paul Roos said. "It will make many more low-head hydro sites and retrofits cost-effective than were previously possible -- in the U.S. and around the world."

The units were named for the 63-inch internal diameter of their turbine housings and integrate the turbine and generator into a single unit, ATS said. The ATS-63s will also use "advanced composite materials" like those being used in modern automobiles and jet aircraft.

"The compact size and light will mean less civil construction requirements, more flexible site arrangements, and overall lower costs compared to current low-head hydroelectric technologies," the company said. "And they can be mass-produced, lowering time from customer order to on-site delivery."

The generators also feature variable speed operation that eliminates mechanical turbine blade pitch controls and wicket gates, ATS said, with the turbine rotor being the ATS-63's only moving part. The entire unit can be removed, repaired and reinstalled in one day, according to the company.

ATS said the units will be available for order in 2015.

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