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This projects attempts to create a portable, easy to assemble, underwater hydropower turbine to be installed in a river. The turbine should be able to produce 500 Watts of electric power and it will be installed in a fabric partial-dam that will block a portion of the river. This project uses ANSYS Fluent to calculate the head across the barrier as well as the force on the barrier. The head should be enough to operate a bulb or pump turbine designed specifically for these conditions, and the anchoring system is designed after the hydrostatic force on the barrier.


Project by: Richard J Castellano

Advisor: Dr. Daniel Sullivan




The idea for this project came from a solicitation from the US Department of Defense. Below is an excerpt of their project description.

The objective of this project is to develop a person-portable micro-hydropower system to provide electrical power in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, as well as provide power for remote locations and forward operating bases.

Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, forward operating bases, and remote camps and communities require electrical power.  The use of traditional petroleum fueled generator in these situations is often problematic due to costly or limited fuel availability.  Where flowing water (rivers, streams, creeks, etc) is available, hydropower provides a simple, cost-effective, sustainable energy solution.  While the technology exists to provide small, hydropower systems for use in civil and military applications, complete systems are not necessarily optimized for easy transport, setup, and use in remote locations.  Therefore, this topic seeks innovative micro-hydropower designs and technologies that possess the following characteristics:

1.     person-portable transportable as component modules in packages weighing no more than 80 pounds;

2.     rapid setup (<1 day, 1 man) of components and complete hydropower system using manual tools;

3.     effective operation in widest range of water flow categories;

4.     maintenance-free operation regardless of water-borne debris and variation in water flow;

5.     minimal environmental impact on water source and associated lands;

6.     minimal capital and operational costs. 

The system should be capable of providing a minimum of 500W of continuous electric power, peak system power up to 10kW, and sustained power of 2kW for up to two hours.  Power output could be direct current or alternating current conditioned to power off-grid equipment of facilities, or it could be connected into a micro-grid.  The system should contain all the parts and assemblies required to construct and operate the micro-hydropower systems, to include all electrical and water handling components needed to handle water inlet and outlet flows.  A methodology to determine whether the flow and head requirements are present in any particular application is required.  The methodology must be easy to use in the field in a remote location.

Design a person-portable micro-hydropower system. Develop a methodology for determining whether the sufficient head and flow is available to meet the system's requirements, and incorporate this into a dynamic system computer model to predict overall system performance under various water flow and head conditions.  Demonstrate innovative technological improvements in system assembly, weight reduction, or component operation in a laboratory environment.