DOE announces funding to boost low-impact hydropower tech

The U.S. Department of Energy has selected seven organizations for a $6.5 million program to advance the manufacturing and installation of low-impact hydroelectric power technologies.

The program, announced by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) in April, is intended to address three areas: rapidly deployable civil works technologies, innovative methods and materials for hydropower construction, and powertrain components.

“While hydropower already supplies approximately 7% of America’s electricity and is considered the leading source of renewable energy, the nation still has significant untapped resources across the country where new hydropower generating capabilities could boost our supply of carbon-free energy,” DOE said in a statement.

Selected in the area of rapidly deployable civil works technologies were:

  • Littoral Power Systems Inc.: Working in conjunction with Alden Research Lab, the Univeristy of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Littoral is developing a proof-of-concept design for integrated modules in an integrated dam section. The group’s full-size prototype will be tested for structural integrity, leak resistance and ease of installation.
  • French Development Enterprises LLC: Collaborating with Alden Labs and Oldcastle Precast, the company will develop a building block-style impoundment technology that uses precast concrete segments and interlocking connectors

Selected in the area of innovative methods and materials for hydropower construction:

  • Colorado School of Mines: The university will conduct a study on the use of cofferdams as the basis for the design and construction of permanent water-retaining structures.
  • North Dakota State University: Working with Iowa State University’s Institute for Transportation, NDSU is developing a technique that uses basalt fiber impregnation to increase durability and reduce cracking and shrinkage in concrete.

Selected in the area of powertrain component innovations:

  • Composite Technology Development Inc.: The company is developing composite turbine runners suitable for small hydropower systems using materials that reduce the levelized cost of energy.
  • Emergy Hydro: The business is partnering with Ricardo USA, Georgia Tech and the City of Atlanta to develop a magnetic gear technology to be used with commercial off-the-shelf components, improving reliability and reducing maintenance.
  • Percheron Power LLC: The company is collaborating with Utah Water Resource Laboratory, Hertelendy Research Associates and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to developed advanced components for use in Archimedes-type turbine systems.

The program is part of DOE’s broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative.


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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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