Hydrokinetic Miniturbine: Development to get Electric Energy

Universidad Nacional de Cuyo - Facultad de Ingeniería

June 30, 2014 | 5 ′ 5 ′′


Hydrokinetic Miniturbine: Development to get Electric Energy


It was installed in the turbulent water of river Mendoza and it expects to generate renewable energy for Mendoza’s electric system. It is being tested and in the future, the plan is to install an kinetic" data-toggle = "tooltip" title = "Hydrokinetic technology describes the capacity of producing renewable energy with 0 emissions by water circulation.">hydrokinetic park. In addition to generate environmentally friendly energy, the development has the advantage of using fewer resources than traditional hydroelectric centrals.

Canal San Martín, in the south of the city of Mendoza, is the place chosen to test if with the water flow speed they can get renewable electric energy. This was proposed by the Instituto de Energía de la Universidad Nacional de Cuyo and the State company INVAP, which also plan to design commercial equipment and transfer the electric energy generated in the turbines to the electric grid in the next stages.

A hydrokinetc miniturbine was planned and developed to get electric energy from the turbulent water of Luján de Cuyo.">River Mendoza, in Canal San Martín, in Luján de Cuyo. With the project, the Secretariat of Institutional Development of the University and the INVAP seek to deepen the knowledge about how this technology works to introduce renewable energy in the local electric system. The next stages of the project plan to design commercial equipment and supply the energy generated in the turbines to the electric grid which is in general near irrigation channels.

What does the device consist on?

As the developers indicated to Argentina Investiga, the hydrokinetic turbine captures kinetic energy or flow’s speed energy -in this case water-. The group turbine-generator is 1,200 millimeters long and the generator has a power of 4.50 kilowatts into a case with a diameter of 300 millimeters. This case has a hydrodynamic shape and it is supported by a 1,800 millimeters long pile joined to a beam support structure which crosses the canal transversally. At the same time, the beam is supported by two concrete bases independent of the canal structure (see drawing).

These are the only civil works necessary for this kind of technology, unlike small traditional hydroelectric centrals which are formed by a charge chamber, reinforced pipes, machines case and restitution canal.

The device tested has a rotor composed of 3 blades and a 450 millimeters hydraulic rotor. It has the shaft directly coupled with the generator’s shaft. As it is a pilot test, a reduced diameter rotor was reduced to limit the energy generated, which, at the same time, is dissipated in panels with electric resistances.

The water speed in the canal San Martín of river Mendoza varies according to the flow transported and the slope of the part considered. In the test point of the pilot turbine the speeds go from 3.10 m/s for a flow of 10 m3/s up to 4.28 m/s for a flow of 35 m3/s.

Preliminary studies indicate that Canal San Martín in the first stretch of 19 kilometers long, it has a useful potential higher than 20,000 power kilowatts; equivalent to the power installed in the hydroelectric central of the dam El Carrizal. Considering a use factor of 0.5, the energy produced could supply 20,000 urban houses. After the test of this miniturbine, there is a plan to open a hydrokinetic park in Canal San Martín.

The project is called “Turbinas hidrocinéticas en cauces para la generación de energía eléctrica” and it is directed and coordinated by a managing committee integrated by representatives of the Instituto de Energía and the company INVAP Sociedad del Estado. The municipality of Luján de Cuyo and the departamento general de Irrigación collaborate in its execution.

The Institute of Energy was in charge of defining the adequate site to install the miniturbine as well as the appropriate tests and authorizations for the development of the pilot test and the analysis and evaluation of the possible consequences and hydraulic risks of the installation of this equipment. The device was installed in Canal San Martín, in the stretch Luján de Cuyo. The INVAP Sociedad del Estado developed the hydrokinetic miniturbine and supervised the assembly and the company José Luis Rodríguez Talleres Metalúrgicos collaborated in the construction of the support structure as well as in the assembly and project operation works on the device.

Prensa UNCuyo
loliva@uncu.edu.ar.
Área de Divulgación científica


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