Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Electricity from water mains

11.12.2012
PolyU's novel inline hydropower system for power generation from water pipelines. In full operation, an array of in-pipe turbines is expected to save 700kWh of electricity and reduce 560 kg of carbon dioxide emission per year.
Generating electricity from water is not a new thing. Hydro power stations have already sprung up across the world in China, United States and Canada. However, scientists will not stop exploring advanced technologies for further improvement to benefit people’s lives.

Recently, PolyU’s Department of Building Services Engineering and the Water Supplies Department (WSD) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government have been working together to turn water mains into an alternative source of power.

Hong Kong has a network of water mains travelling over 7,800 km, which is comprehensively monitored by WSD using monitoring devices to make sure our water supply remain clean and well-maintained. Water mains need power for those devices. Conventionally, they are putting small turbines into our pipes to produce electricity from drinking water.

Our water main pipes present a real challenge. They are just one metre across and hold far less water volume and potential energy compared to giant water dams, say for example. In pushing the boundaries, specialists in hydrodynamics, mechanical engineering and renewable energy have created a highly efficient device in harnessing the power of water. The resulting turbine is small enough to fit into a pipe, and uses just a fraction of hydro-energy to generate about 80 volts, enough to power four compact fluorescent light bulbs.

The novel device consists of an external hydroelectric generator and highly efficient spherical water turbine which dips into flowing water and reclaims residual pressure. When water passes through, the turbine drives a central rotating shaft and a micro generator to produce electricity.

The key lies in a number of intelligent designs to extract more energy from flowing water. The 8-blade turbine would only take away a fraction of kinetic energy because it strikes an accurate balance between water volume, water pressure and consumption of hydrokinetic energy, which boosts efficiency without reducing the momentum of running water to guarantee a reliable water supply. Turbine blades are carefully sized to intersect the largest possible area of water flow and minimise water bypassing.

To achieve maximum power output, a revolutionary design made the central rotating shaft hollow on the inside to minimise energy losses when driving the generator and utilize the harvested energy in full. The team also made the water more energetic and produced a strong current with a special metal block placed at the centre of the pipe to compress and accelerate the water flow. To further protect our drinking water, the turbine does not have moving parts and does not need any lubricant to eliminate the slightest change of contamination.

The mini-hydro power has been put to test in a number of locations including underground pits and outdoor environments. The principal investigator, Prof. Hong-xing Yang from Department of Building Services Engineering commented, “We have made the water pipes self-sufficient.” In full operation, an array of in-pipe turbines is expected to save 700kWh of electricity and reduce 560 kg of carbon dioxide emission per year.

It is not only a green innovation to further cut our reliance on coal-based power plants, but also an engineering triumph that gives WSD an easy access to electricity in areas without power grid, such as treacherous terrains and underground. “This technology also points to viable turbine solutions for waters that have little potential for energy generation,” added Prof. Yang.

The invention won a Silver Medal from the 40th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva in Switzerland in April this year, validating the growing excellence of PolyU in creating working solutions to curb energy consumption and carbon footprint. PolyU spares no effort in the research and development of groundbreaking technologies that help protect the environment, and our experts are gear up for that challenge.

Wilfred Lai | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.polyu.edu.hk

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Energy hybrid: Battery meets super capacitor
01.12.2016 | Technische Universität Graz

nachricht Tailor-Made Membranes for the Environment
30.11.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>