Theories about where technology could take us have been a staple of the entertainment industry for decades. Two examples that spring to mind are the Star Trek movie and television show franchise (which is still going strong) and the Jetsons television sitcom, both of which debuted in the 1960s. In fact, did you know that Star Trek has been cited as an inspiration for such technological breakthroughs as cell phones and tablet computers?
Recently, hydroelectric power has captured the imagination of some innovators, who are adapting this “mature” technology to achieve today’s needs. A couple of technologies that stood out for me are:
The Barsha pump, from aQysta in The Netherlands, uses the kinetic energy of moving water to provide irrigation water for farmers (barsha means “rain” in Nepalese). The pump, a waterwheel moored in a moving current, can be installed in a river, stream or canal and incorporates few moving parts to simplify maintenance. It can pump water to a maximum vertical height of 20 m and a distance as long as 2 km. It can pump as much as 40,000 L per day, depending on the speed and flow rate of the river and the height to which it is being pumped. The pump has been installed in Indonesia, Nepal, Spain, Turkey and Zambia and provides an alternative to pumps powered using kerosene or diesel.
The Estream, from Enomad in South Korea, is a lightweight hydropower generator with an integrated lithium-ion battery that provides a capacity of up to 5 watts of electricity. The device, which takes 4.5 hours to fully charge, is intended to produce power for outdoor adventurers who might want to charge a USB-connected mobile device. The unit is 9.7 in by 2.5 in by 8.3 in and weighs less than 2 pounds. As of Aug. 31, this device was part of a Kickstarter campaign that still had 11 days to go but had already raised $135,554 of its $80,000 goal.
Established companies in the hydropower and dams markets also are offering new technologies and innovative applications of existing technology. Our article on page 10 features detailed information on six such technologies applied around the world, one or more of which may help you solve a problem at your hydro facility or dam.
In addition, further information on technology innovation and application is available under the Technology/Equipment topic center at HydroWorld.com, updated daily.
Our current reality may not look much like what you saw on Star Trek or the Jetsons 50 years ago (no flying cars, yet), but technology is advancing rapidly, and the hydro and dams industries are keeping pace.