Reclamation launches competition for ways to continuously power instruments on hydro rotating shafts

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation has launched a prize competition seeking solutions to provide direct current power of up to 20 watts for electronic instruments on hydropower generating units’ rotating shafts.

Currently available power sources for electronics on rotating shafts include batteries and contact solutions. However, existing technologies are limited with respect to operation, installation, maintenance or other factors. Thus, new solutions are needed to power these instruments, which will be installed permanently on the rotating shaft to collect continuous data regarding generator operation and performance.

Reclamation is the second largest producer of hydropower in the U.S., operating 53 power plants. The generating units at these plants are expected to safely and reliably produce the power that is delivered to the western electric grid. Monitoring the generating units is a critical advancement toward keeping these units operational.

Reclamation is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration on this prize competition.

Reclamation is making a total award pool of $250,000 available.

Solutions can be novel approaches or can build upon existing methods and technologies. The solver should submit a white paper that describes a device for providing DC power to instruments on rotating shafts as defined in the solution requirements. It should be accompanied by a well-articulated rationale supported by literature and/or patent precedents.

Solutions must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 8, 2018.

After the competition deadline, Reclamation will select solutions for experimental validation in a laboratory or field-scale demonstration. The solvers selected for this validation will share up to $50,000, with no award smaller than $5,000. Final awards will be granted from the remaining award pool through critical analysis of the demonstration results by Reclamation and its panel of judges.

Click here to learn more about this prize competition.

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