Hydropower in Pipes Comes to Portland

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Human ingenuity never ceases to amaze us. We have known about powerful generators in huge pipes in pumped-storage schemes for ages. However, it took a brilliant moment at Lucid Energy to think of doing this in main water lines. Thanks to an article we found in Cleantech Concepts, we can now tell you about the hydropower in pipes in Portland, Oregon.

The Turbines Making Hydropower in Pipes

Lucid’s system uses gravity-fed water to rotate lift-based spherical turbines and extract the energy. Their devices only disrupt the water flow minimally, and should therefore only have minor impact on the distributed system.

Engineers insert the lift-based spherical turbines into water pipes at the point of manufacture, or in existing runs. Once the pipe runs are complete, electricians follow to make electrical connections. There are currently four lines of hydropower in pipes in Portland Oregon, plus a fifth one in Riverside, California.

More Advantages to Gain from Piped Hydropower

The lift-based spherical turbines do not have conventional blades, and are therefore able to let through most particulate matter. Lucid now has three diameters available as standard, namely 24” (18kW), 42” (50kW), and 60” (100kW). Minimum water flows are 1m3/s, 2.7m3/s, and 5.6m3/s.

The turbines also help control water pressure during heavy flows by converting some energy into electricity. Despite this, uptake from utilities has been slow. Johannesburg and Boston both backed away from hydropower in pipes, because they feared a pump collapse could block their water supply. The 108” main supply entering Boston could have produced an immense amount of electricity for its citizens.

The cities have a point, because they might have to dismantle primary water pipes – often buried – to get to failed turbines. We like the idea, but the technology needs rethinking perhaps with pipes running on the surface. We will keep a watch on this initiative, and let you know how it unfolds.


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Preview Image: How Hydropower in Pipes Works

Video Share Link: https://youtu.be/Vpubi1GjoBE


About Author


I tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will not deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time. My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast. I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned. Richard Farrell

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