Implementing Practical Pico-hydropower

EPA Grant Number: SU835506
Title: Implementing Practical Pico-hydropower
Investigators: Gaustad, Gabrielle , Stoker, Adam , Sinko, Andrew , Carney, Bridget , Harper, J.D. , Krueger, Kate , Burke, Matthew , Selyuzhitskiy, Sergey
Current Investigators: Gaustad, Gabrielle , Stoker, Adam , Harper, J.D. , Krueger, Kate , Burke, Matthew
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2013 through August 14, 2014
Project Amount: $14,999
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


The proposed research will study the feasibility of pico-hydropower implementation and provide the quantitative data and design necessary to implement a micro-hydropower system within the Rochester Institute of Technology’s new Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS) building.  This work will test a micro-hydropower unit in the lab, use data from these tests to determine an efficient implementation design, and quantify the economic and environmental impacts from such implementation.  Phase II would then integrate the unit into the current rainwater collection and storage infrastructure present in the new GIS building.


This project will purchase a micro-hydropower unit and the materials necessary to convert it to building use capacity.  This unit will be tested in the lab under a range of conditions that will simulate its actual implementation.  Energy generated under these various conditions will be recorded and then used to feed into both environmental impact analysis and economic feasibility modeling. The project will also monitor rainfall and stormwater run-off in the new GIS building; total magnitude, flow rates through-out the stormwater collection system, and degree of cavitation will be recorded.  Data from the building monitoring and lab testing will be combined to model expected output of the fully integrated micro hydropower unit.  Streamlined environmental impact assessment will be performed for the system in order to quantify potential cumulative energy demand (MJ) and greenhouse gas emissions savings (kg CO2 eq).  Process-based cost modeling will be used to estimate annual operating costs and to quantify both energy and economic pay-back times for the unit.

Expected Results:

Deliverables for this proposal will be energy output data modeled from experimental testing of the hydropower unit and monitoring of the stormwater handling infrastructure in the GIS building; along with a design and engineering plan for implementation and building integration to be carried out in Phase II.  This research project is innovative in that micro-hydropower has not been extensively studied for use in the built environment.  The project is also extremely interdisciplinary due to the varied backgrounds of the student team (undergraduate focuses in fine arts, graphic design, civil engineering, sculpture, interior design, industrial design, etc.), focus on the PI (material science and sustainability), and the involvement of supporters (the design-build team for the GIS building).  Successful results will advance technical and practical knowledge for the feasibility of hydropower in the built environment.  Increasing the opportunity to use this green energy source within urban environments has potential to reduce the impacts from fossil fuel usage including resource depletion, air and water pollution, and hazardous wastes.  When able to make use of current stormwater drainage and collection systems, this also provides a competitive economic advantage as dollar savings would result from offsetting other energy sources.

Supplemental Keywords:

green buildings, stormwater use and cycling, life-cycle analysis;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report