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Riverine Hydrokinetic Technology: A Review


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Hydrokinetic energy is an emerging class of renewable energy that harnesses the kinetic energy of moving water. Distinct from conventional hydroelectric technology, which requires large dams or reservoirs to create significantly high water head to drive the turbine; hydrokinetic technology can be deployed in rivers, streams, or constructed waterways with very low hydraulic head. This characteristic significantly increases the number of potential installation sites and applications possible with hydrokinetic technology. On the other hand, hydrokinetic energy has the advantages of high energy density, very good predictability over other types of renewable energy. This paper reviews the current state of hydrokinetic technology for riverine applications. The hydrokinetic energy theory is reviewed first, with practical examples to illustrate real-world physical meaning of mathematical formulae. Next, maximum power point tracking, turbine’s duct effect are reviewed. Finally, the two most popular categories of hydrokinetic turbines are discussed in detail with focus on advantages, drawbacks and preferable applications.

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Riverine Hydrokinetic Technology: A Review

  1. 1. Riverine Hydrokinetic Technology: A Review Student: Long Pham Mar. 2014 CLASS REE516: ENERGY ENGINEERING II
  2. 2. • An emerging class of renewable energy that harnesses the kinetic energy of moving water • Traditional hydroelectric requires large dams/reservoirs to create significantly high water head • Hydrokinetic Technology can be installed in any rivers, streams, waterway with very low water head What is it? Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Generating Stations. Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Source: Ontario Power Generation Source: New Energy Inc. website:
  3. 3. • Water movements occurs naturally all over the planet: Ocean waves, tidal currents, rivers, streams, etc. The mid-west region of the United States alone has more than 6000 miles of rivers. Most of them remain untapped for electricity generation. Water movements are highly predictable and usually located right where we need them • Hydrokinetic technology allows us to harness the energy from all kinds of water movements. Without building large dams / reservoirs that may alter the river systems, occupy the surrounding land and challenge the local wildlife. • Add 13,000 MW of new generation capacity to the United State by 2025 (from EPRI [1]) Why it is so interesting? Source: Source: New Energy Inc. website:
  4. 4. • Single person portable, rapidly deployable electrical power generation for front line and disaster relief forces • Able to generate 600W of continuous power over the widest range of operating conditions to power basic encampment equipment: computing devices, targeting systems, communication devices, etc. • Can be setup in arrays to achieve power output 20kW, • Bottom mounted to make it totally invisible. • A supplement to the U.S. Marines’ Ground Renewable Expeditionary Energy System (GREENS) - a 300 W photovoltaic battery system. Attractive Applications Bourne Energy’s Militarized Backpack Power Plant. Source: Bourne Energy
  5. 5. Attractive Applications Photo courtesy of D.Light Design Inc. (
  6. 6. Attractive Applications Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Generating Stations. Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Source: Ontario Power Generation The stations divert water from the Niagara and Welland Rivers above Niagara Falls which produce up to 1,997 MW capacity Inspiration from: Integrated coal gasification combined-cycle technology (IGCC) “Install hydrokinetic turbines behind large dams to establish combine-cycle hydroelectric power systems to harvest additional power in the magnitude of MWs from the energy remaining in the water discharging from dams” [2]
  7. 7. • Turbines’ ducted effect 31 2 capture p theory p P C P C Av  Duct effects on fluid flow a) Non-ducted, b) Ducted, c) Computational fluid dynamic simulation [11].
  8. 8. • Turbines suitable for these very low head applications are different from those used in conventional hydroelectric plants, like the Francis, propeller, Kaplan, or Pelton turbines • In recent years, various concepts have been developed to harvest the energy of free-flowing water. However, methods employing a rotational turbine are more economically feasible for real-world deployments and commercialization. • Similar to wind turbines, there are many different hydrokinetic turbine designs. They are broadly grouped into two categories based on the orientation of the axis of rotation Classification of Hydrokinetic turbines
  9. 9. • Turbines having the rotational axis parallel or inclined to the flowing direction of water • Feature rotors that resemble aircraft propellers • Lifting force • Advantages: ▫ Higher efficiency than cross flow turbines. ▫ No torque ripple, self-start capable • Disadvantages: ▫ Higher manufacturing and transportation cost  requirements for water sealed components  the airfoil shape of the blades  blade size usually big ▫ Disk shape of the rotor:  Difficult for turbines to be stacked together  In small, narrow rivers Axial Flow Hydrokinetic Turbine
  10. 10. • Turbines having the rotational axis perpendicular to the incoming water current • Two basic types of vertical axis turbine designs: based on Darrieus design (Fig. 6 a, b, c, d) and based on Savonius design (Fig. 6e). • Darrieus: Lifting force; Savonius: dragging force • Advantages: ▫ Cylindrical rotor shape:  Make use of space more efficiently  Low cost duct augmentation  Suitable for small, shallow rivers: diameter bigger than depth which allows them to sweep a bigger area in shallow river streams, increasing the possible power production per turbine ▫ Lower manufacturing, transportation and maintenance:  Don’t need expensive hydrofoil shape blades  Smaller and simpler parts  Generator can be placed from above the water surface with direct connection to the rotor . • Drawbacks: Torque ripple, inability to self-start, and lower efficiency Cross Flow Hydrokinetic Turbine
  11. 11. • Hydrokinetic energy is highly predictable • Hydrokinetic resources are abundant, untapped, and located close to population • Hydrokinetic technology is environmental friendly • Same drawback as other renewable technologies: low efficiency • In all of the hydrokinetic Research Development & Demonstrations (RD&D) found in the literature, the electrical and control design are simplistic and error prone, which significantly reduces the overall stability and efficiency of hydrokinetic turbines. • A low cost, high efficiency, sensorless power electronics converter could be of significant interest to the emerging hydrokinetic technology, especially the small-scale deployments of this technology Conclusion
  12. 12. Reference
  13. 13. Thank you!