Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Scalable, Low-impact, run-of-river Hydropower generator

EPA Grant Number: SU836021
Title: Scalable, Low-impact, run-of-river Hydropower generator
Investigators: Gomes, Mario
Current Investigators: Gomes, Mario , Alm, Hope , Bastian, Geoff , Buckner, Tim , Donnelly, Chris , Dunn, Adam , Fertitta, Joe , Garland, Andrew , Grates, Justin , Kirman, Vulf , Leclerc, Donald , Lentlie, William , Marion, Matt , Matheu, Andres Santizo , McConnaghy, Kelsey , Negro, Mark , Sood, Harshita , Traxler, Shauna , Wang, Michelle
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Lank, Gregory
Project Period: August 15, 2011 through August 14, 2012
Project Amount: $14,936
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The negative ecological impact of existing hydroelectric projects throughout the world are being reexamined and evaluated. Dam sedimentation, river delta and floodplain habitat modification, and involuntary population resettlement, are all due to radical changes in the normal flow of the river. Even micro and pico-hydro power systems can divert large percentages of a river's flow through pipes to feed the turbine.


The objective of this project is to design a scaled-down version of a novel, translating hydrofoil system. This system has the potential to minimally disturb the flow of the river system and thus minimize adverse ecological and social impacts. In order to effectively harvest the kinetic energy of a wide flowing body of water, a novel oscillating wing system will be explored in this project. A translating hydrofoil has the potential to sweep across a large percentage of the entire river cross-section, harvesting energy from the flow, while minimizing the harmful effects of large diversions of the natural flow of the river.


This understanding will be developed through the use of mathematical models of the hydropower system, computer simulations of those models, and an instrumented experimental prototype.

Expected Results:

A more complete understanding of the important design attributes required to produce an efficient oscillating-wing hydropower system will be developed. A scaled-down version of this novel hydropower system will be designed, built, and tested. Possible negative terrestrial and aquatic impacts from the system installation/operation will be identified and plans will be created for quantitatively assessing the size and scope of those impacts.

Supplemental Keywords:

Development of alternative energy sources, innovative technology, renewable energy, low-impact, hydroelectric, and hydro-power

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report