Fred Carter: Graduating Researcher of the Hydro Research Foundation

Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of profiles provided by the Hydro Research Foundation that highlight potential future members of the hydroelectric power industry and their accomplishments.

The Hydro Research Foundation is actively supporting graduate students to conduct research related to conventional and pumped storage hydropower. These students are funded through the Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office and industry partners through a two-year grant.


Fred Carter’s intrigue for the hydropower field arguably began in his teenage years growing up on the water. However it was not until he started his research assistantship in mechanical engineering at Lehigh University in 2014 that he was able to work on a project directly related to the hydropower field. Since then he has worked with former Hydro Research Foundation Fellow Chris Schleicher on a micro-hydro turbine for use in low-head low-flow situations for the Navy. Outside the scope of hydropower, Fred is actively involved in the research and development of additive manufacturing technologies. 

Carter has been working with Dr. Alparslan Oztekin at Lehigh University, Dr. Brennan Smith at Oak Ridge National Lab and Debbie Mursch with Alstom to research work titled, “Pump-storage Hydropower Design in a Wastewater Treatment Facility with an Aerating Runner.” Pumped water storage as an energy solution is an increasingly popular topic for research. Pumping water in off-peak consumption hours to help generate power during peak hours has been shown to be a viable and even profitable solution.

In order to improve on the current technology, the proposed research investigates a specific pumped storage application for wastewater treatment plants, focusing on a micro-hydro pump storage system. This project involves making the technology readily available to water treatment plants, evaluating a novel aerating runner’s ability to treat wastewater, and optimizing the system design. This project also serves as an extension of a previous Hydro Research Foundation study.

The research group extensively studies micro-hydro systems and will provide the knowledge and tools to make this research a success. The project will entail speaking with wastewater treatment plant management regarding process variables, constraints, and requirements to formulate an appropriate and innovative micro-hydro pump-storage system, which will be designed and produced at our facilities. The project’s breadth is to evaluate a micro-hydro pump-storage system’s implementation in a wastewater treatment facility, and explore the advantages such a system entails.

This project would involve CFD and FEA tools to create an optimized system. The project’s ultimate achievement is to derive an aerating runner capable of both the turbine and pump process. Substantial attention will be paid to the system cost analysis, including a break-even analysis and a feasibility assessment based on potential customer feedback for actual deployment.

Carter has accepted a position with Sciaky and looks forward to continuing work in hydropower. To connect with him or learn more about the Research Awards Program please email or visit the website

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