Hydropower Energy Resource Harvester Installation

The HyPER Harvester Project

Key Attributes:1

  • Modular, Plug-&-Play
  • Carbon-composite and Fiberglass shell
  • Light weight composite impeller
  • Easy to fabricate
  • Easy to assemble
  • Low manufacturing cost
  • Easy to deploy
  • Highly durable
  • Self-supporting
  • Minimally intrusive
  • Environmentally aesthetic
  • Scalable and Custom-engineered to fit

Using additive manufacturing techniques, the harvester is fabricated with Carbon-composites and Fiberglass to provide high tensile and compression properties to the modular elements. The hand-crafted modular turbine components include:

  • a Venturi-turbine as two half-moldings made from an axially-symmetric mold
  • a submarine as two half-moldings made from an axially-symmetric mold,
  • a discharge elbow as two half-moldings from two mirror-symmetric molds, and
  • a single-assembly impeller (hub and blades) with a Steel shaft

Steel shafts of the impeller and generator/alternator are coupled by a Steel coupler and supported vertically by the submarine with a suitable thrust bearing. Harvester assembly ~5 hours


Harvester assembly section showing generator and impeller in composite half-moldings of submarine and the Venturi Fully assembled harvester turbine-generator & discharge modules at NMSU-MTEC awaiting deployment at EBID Drop 8 Station
















EBID Drop 8 East-side installation September 24, 2014 Installation time: ~1Hr EBID Drop 8 West-side installation October 22, 2014 Installation time: <1Hr

Impact: The systems-engineered design enables rapid manufacturing and assembly of desired size units that can be deployed at sites along U.S. waterways as small-hydropower plants. There is worldwide potential for this technology to provide sustainable hydropower to communities isolated from grid-supply.

Adaptability: While Drop 8 Station is unique both in terms of the structure as well as its historical nature, channeling the flows into the turbine-generator module is illustrated for other likely scenarios: A) A vertical drop requiring a conical extension that can be dropped through the orifice; B) Conduit flow; and C) Penstock/Spillway flow. In all cases, the harvester is configured as conventional hydro. Noting these are not limiting by any means, its shows possibilities for adapting to various other types of drop structures along irrigation canals and waterways. Molded composite extensions are easily fabricated to desired sizes and shapes at a very low cost, making it possible to adapt the harvester in the same form and shape to virtually any site.



Ease of Maintenance and Repair: If the repair and maintenance is during irrigation season, steps are needed to block the water entering the drop site. These are operational issues which the irrigation crew know how to perform so that maintenance crew can remove the turbine-generator module from the orifice.

Recognizing the rapid deployment capability demonstrated in two prior deployments, the hoisting process can be reversed in the same interval of time to remove the turbine components for replacement or for repair. As easily as the harvester is deployed, the harvester turbine-generator and discharge modules can be decoupled by disconnecting the flanged joints and the turbine-generator module can be hoisted out of the drop site and transported for repair. A replacement unit can then be inserted and coupled to the existing discharge tube making it ready for deployment.

Pictures show the hoisting of the East-side and West-side harvester prototypes. Light weight of turbine components make it easy for hoisting using a small truck-mounted crane. Fewer heavy equipment with less crew minimizes cost of deployment and operation and maintenance costs.


Cost Summary
Present Future Target
Manufacturing cost $2.93/WattRadial-flux PM Alternator: $1.32/WattInstrumentation  + Power Electronics $0.45/WattTurbine, submarine, discharge tube and impeller fabrication $1.16/Watt Manufacturing cost < $2.00/WattAxial-flux PM Alternator: <$0.80/WattInstrumentation  + Power Electronics< $0.40/Watt

Turbine, submarine, discharge tube and impeller fabrication < $0.80/WattFixed Cost Rate: 10%Period: 20 YearsPlant Capacity 20kW: 2-10kWCapacity Factor: 75%Fixed Cost Rate: 10%Period: 20 YearsPlant Capacity 20kW: 2-10kWCapacity Factor: 75%LCOE $0.067/kWhLCOE < $0.046/kWh

Broader Impact: From the North to the South, Vietnam has abundant low-head hydro potential. By demonstrating the technology effectiveness in harvesting low-head hydropower along the multitude of rivers and streams that cut-through Vietnam, many opportunities exist in Vietnam to show greater benefits of the HyPER harvester technology to an entire Nation and to human society overall.

A highly committed and dedicated group of doctoral students from UC Berkeley[i], having received a United Nations SEED award, is actively seeking to electrify a tear-drop shaped island named Con Pho Ba in the Mekong River Delta, home to roughly 1200 communes. The river is between 15-20 meters deep and between 300-350 meters wide with flow rates as low as (1/2) meter/sec. The mass-flow rate, however, is sufficient to produce impeller speeds as low as 3-5RPM in average river flow conditions. With appropriate gearbox arrangement inside the submarine, it is conceivable that many permanent magnet alternators can operate at speeds 100-200RPM inside a submarine and produce in excess of 1MW. Three locations where there appear to have the highest flow-rate and discharge, based on natural constrictions in flow, are marked as asterisks in the picture below.


The unique attribute of the HyPER Harvester is its ability to harvest both hydro potential and hydrokinetic energy. Operating as a conventional hydropower generating system, potential energy is captured first as a consequence of the pressure head. As the fluid discharges through the impeller at a high velocity it expands and then decelerates as it exits through the discharge tube. The kinetic energy caused by diffusion is captured by a suction pressure which produces additional torque on the impeller.

Operating as a hydrokinetic energy harvester, multiple alternators can provide sustainable hydropower to the island of Con Pho Ba. This has the potential to create a model for sustainable hydropower development worldwide. The fish-friendly nature of the harvester technology stems from the possibility that at low speeds of 3-5RPM the impeller is designed to allow fish and other natural underwater habitat to safely pass through. The economic benefits derived, owing to power use by communes, encourage inhabitants to develop and sustain small-scale industries transforming indigenously grown or cultivated materials into building materials and processing and packaging consumable food products for exports to countries around the World. The potential for development and growth are immense and unimaginable.

With sustainable hydropower comes all the benefits that allow sustainable growth of a unique and indigenous population whose culture dates back to the period of the Dong Son culture, approximately 300 BC, and pioneers of the Bronze Age. The abundance of power from the natural renewable resource is bound to uplift their social-economic level, enable the less privileged to attend school, and encourage their future generations to pursue education as their means for transformation. The vast bio-diversity and abundant biological resources which sustain the “well-being” of humans in the Mekong River Delta, stands in sharp contrast with abject poverty that prevails.


Thanks to all the students from CE, EE, ME and Professor Prasad for making this project possible.

Harvester Field implementation 147 20141022_111124