Canadian Consulting Engineer

Water pipes double as electricity generators

March 17, 2015

200-kW system installed in February in Portland, Oregon

LucidPipe System being installed in Portland, Oregon.  Photo: courtesy Lucid Energy / Sherri Kaven.

LucidPipe System being installed in Portland, Oregon. Photo: courtesy Lucid Energy / Sherri Kaven.

A company in Portland, Oregon has installed electricity generating turbines inside a large water pipeline.

Lucid Energy has developed a patented technology known as the LucidPipe Power System which captures the energy of fast-moving water inside large, gravity fed pipelines. A 200-kW system was installed in February into a Portland Water Bureau water pipeline and is generating renewable energy for the local utility.

The technology uses lift-based vertical axis spherical turbines that extract excess head pressure from large diameter (24″-96″) gravity fed water or effluent pipelines. It can operate in a range of flow conditions and several of the units can be installed in a 40-foot section of pipe.

According to the website: “The amount of electricity generated is a function of the rate of flow and the pressure inside the transmission pipe. For example, in a standard 60-inch-diameter pipeline, with flow velocity of seven feet per second and 92.3 ft of head (40 psi) of excess head pressure, a single LucidPipe unit could produce up to 100kW of power while extracting about 11.5 ft of head (5 PSI) from the system. Adding multiple turbines in a pipeline with these characteristics has the potential to generate thousands of megawatt hours of renewable energy without environmental impact.”


The website also points out that 6% of energy in the U.S. goes to moving water. Hence harnessing and reusing that energy makes this a promising renewable energy source.

The technology has been tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 61 for use in potable systems, and can also be used in other applications such as wastewater plants, irrigation systems, or industrial high-volume processes.

An article in cites Gregg Semler, chief executive officer of Lucid Energy, explaining: “We replace an existing pipe with our own pipe. Inside the system is a turbine that then connects to a generator sitting on top of the pipe. All we’re doing is recapturing energy that exists inside these pipelines.” The advantage is that unlike wind and solar, the power generation does not depend on the weather.

Reportedly the system can be installed in a week.

To see an animation of how the system works, click here.

For more information, click here.

To see an article in TechExplore, click here



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