DOE Gives $4.4M for ‘Low-Head’ Hydropower Manufacturing

December 2, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

DOE Energy ManageThe US Energy Department is providing a total of $4.4 million for two projects in Michigan and Pennsylvania to support the use of advanced materials and manufacturing techniques in the development of new hydropower technologies for “low-head” sites, which operate with a change in elevation between 2 and 20 meters, including waterways at existing non-powered dams, canals and conduits. According to DOE assessments, there is a technical resource potential of more than 50 GW of potential capacity at these low-head sites.

Eaton in Southfield, Mich., will develop a turbine and generator system that uses lightweight advanced materials and advanced manufacturing techniques such as laser-assisted welding, surface treatments and processing. The turbine will be designed to deliver a constant source of energy despite changes in water flow by using a system that operates efficiently across a range of ebbs and flows. The Eaton Corporation will design, fabricate, and test its turbine at 1/10th scale.

Pennsylvania State University will develop and demonstrate a low-head hydropower turbine and generator system prototype that combines lightweight, corrosion-resistant metallic components that can be produced through an additive manufacturing process. A condition-based monitoring system will also facilitate improved operation and maintenance.

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