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Hydro Review

The Leading Edge

Lucid developing in-conduit turbine technology

Lucid Energy Technologies, in collaboration with Northwest Pipe Company, is testing three beta systems to demonstrate the Northwest PowerPipe technology.

Northwest PowerPipe is designed to generate electricity from large-diameter water and wastewater transmission pipelines. The system contains a spherical turbine that extracts energy from excess head pressure without significantly affecting the flow for water transmission. The system is designed to be deployed inside gravity-fed pipes with a diameter of at least 24 inches. A single unit can provide a capacity of 20 to 30 kW, and multiple units can be deployed in the same section of pipe to scale power production to the amount of available excess head. Up to four units can be installed in a single 40-foot pipe section.

In 2009, Lucid began testing this technology at the Utah Water Research Laboratory. The company then installed and tested a beta version in the Gage Pipeline in Riverside, Calif., in February 2010. This system transmitted power to the grid. The company is working with the city to plan for further installations in its water distribution system.

In August 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Lucid a $1 million grant to further develop and commercialize the Northwest Power-Pipe technology. In its submission, Lucid proposed to test three beta systems: hydroelectric dam bypass conduit, wastewater treatment pipeline and water transmission pipeline.

Because the Northwest PowerPipe technology is deployed within a closed conduit, these projects are eligible for an in-conduit hydropower exemption from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, says Josh Kanagy with Lucid.

Lucid’s mission is to create a new way for industries to turn the untapped energy of moving water into cost-saving, renewable energy. Northwest Pipe is headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., and manufactures welded steel pipe.

Companies sign MOU for two OTEC plants in Bahamas

Ocean Thermal Energy Corp. and Bahamas Electricity Corp. have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop two ocean thermal energy conversion plants in the Bahamas.

With the MOU, OTE Corp. will move forward with BEC to complete the design process for these two plants. This work is expected to culminate with BEC building, owning and operating the world’s first two commercially viable OTEC plants. In addition to electricity, the plants are expected to provide potable water.

OTE Corp. is based in Lancaster, Pa. BEC operates electric generation, transmission and distribution systems across the Bahamas.

OPT PowerBuoy withstands Hurricane Irene

Ocean Power Technologies Inc. said its PowerBuoy recently deployed about 20 miles off the coast of New Jersey successfully withstood the severe conditions of Hurricane Irene.

Deployed under the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Expeditionary Autonomous PowerBuoy program, the PowerBuoy was in the direct path of Hurricane Irene, which hit the New Jersey coastline on Aug. 27. The PowerBuoy emerged from the two-day storm undamaged and fully operational, with all systems having withstood wave heights of up to 15 meters, OPT said.

During the storm, the PowerBuoy continued to supply consistent power to its communications and radar payload and dissipate the high amounts of surplus energy it produced, the company said. Nearly constant communication was maintained with the device throughout the storm, allowing continuous on-land monitoring of the buoy’s status and performance.

“Despite encountering significant wave heights, the buoy continued to produce power and operated exactly as designed for extreme sea conditions,” said OPT Chief Executive Officer Charles Dunleavy “On Monday morning, after the storm passed, our PowerBuoy was right on station where it had originally been deployed and was operating to the Navy’s specifications as it did prior to the storm.”

In other news, OPT is collaborating with Lockheed Martin to build a 1.5 MW wave energy project in Oregon.

Lockheed Martin will provide design, manufacturing, system integration and supply chain management expertise using OPT’s PowerBuoy technology. The Department of Energy awarded OPT a $2.4 million contract to promote development of marine energy.

Construction of the Oregon PB150 PowerBuoy’s steel structure has been completed, and testing is ongoing.

Studying feasibility of an OTEC project in Hawaii

Scientists with Alden Research Laboratory Inc., Tenera Environmental and OCEES International Inc. are studying the environmental feasibility of developing an ocean thermal energy conversion project in Hawaii.

The proposed 20-MW OTEC facility would be situated near Port Allen on the southern tip of the island of Kauai. The intake and discharge structures (one or more of each) would be located just southeast of Hanapepe Bay.

Because these types of energy projects require large volumes of seawater to drive the electricity-producing cycle, they have the possibility of negatively impacting marine resources. The warm water intake is the structure of greater concern because it draws water from a more biologically productive zone of the ocean and thus has the greater potential to impact aquatic life.

This research project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, seeks to:

— Evaluate the available warm water intake alternatives that would minimize potential impacts; and

— Estimate the potential impacts of the warm water intake on the local marine organisms.

The most significant potential impacts to aquatic organisms at the warm water intake are impingement and entrainment.

A site-specific assessment of the intake technology alternatives is being conducted to develop a conceptual design for the warm water intake for this land-based OTEC facility. These intakes are organized into four groups based on their mode of action: behavioral, exclusion, collection, and diversion. Research revealed three intake technologies have potential for application at the Port Allen facility: modified traveling water, cylindrical wedgewire, and modular inclined screens.

In addition, a field sampling program is being completed to generate empirical biological data on the potential efficacy of a selected warm water intake technology for protecting aquatic organisms from impingement and entrainment. This program will consists of preliminary baseline biological sampling and a pilot-scale evaluation of a selected intake technology.

DOE funding for this work is nearly $600,000.


In September, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission received an application for a pilot license from ORPC Maine for the 300-kW Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy project off Eastport, Maine.

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