3D CNC Machined Hydropower Turbine

The Problem

The rapidly growing worldwide demand for renewable energy provides an unparalleled opportunity for development of new high performance technologies with efficiency and cost being the main driving factors. Conventional hydropower features highly in this mix where the method converts potential and kinetic energy stored in a fluid flow into useable electric power. This high profile project was initialised to capitalise on this growing demand through the development of a new type of high efficiency hydro turbine suitable for hydropower applications.

The Approach

The development of a new type of energy conversion device required technological innovation to increase the efficiency and performance of existing machines of this nature. In particular, the use of twin ‘contra-rotating’ rotors were inspired, since when used in a unidirectional flow, the power output from the device is maximised since the second rotor extracts a portion of the energy that is left by the first rotor. It was decided that the highly complicated shape of the rotors would benefit from state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques such as 3D CNC Machining. This would allow prototype testing to be carried out.

The Result

The development of this hydropower device has progressed rapidly from feasibility stage to concept development whereby an initial prototype design is underway and is due to be tested in June 2014. In addition, international and national patent applications have been filed and the project has attracted significant attention from government funding and international investors.