A company from Belgium wants to make hydropower green again. Turbulent’s whirlpool turbine can be installed in most canals or rivers, harnessing flowing water to generate power for as many as 60 homes, according to Business Insider. The clean, fish-friendly energy source can operate at night and during the day.
Turbulent’s nature-inspired micro hydropower plant can deliver decentralized energy at low cost, according to the company’s website. Their technology works well in rural areas, as long as there’s a river nearby. The company says their turbines don’t harm the environment and are easy to install. Business Insider said the system can be installed in a week.
The whirlpool turbine makes use of small rapids or waterfalls to harness energy. The company digs up land near the water source to install a concrete basin. A generator and impeller goes inside the basin. Then a river wall is lifted so some of the river water will pour into the basin, getting the turbine going. Business Insider said in their video, “It produces limitless free energy as long as water is flowing” – if a river froze in the winter, production would could to a screeching halt.
Turbulent says the turbine possesses just a single moving part, so it can have a longer operating life and doesn’t require much maintenance. A self-cleaning screen captures large debris. The company says the life of the concrete basin is 100 years, and fish won’t be harmed in the turbine; a video Turbulent produced shows fish swimming freely through the basin and even the turbine.
The company claims in a video that hydropower has become less sustainable over time, with high-pressure turbines and dams, and their goal is to make the energy source sustainable again. Unlike large dams, their low-pressure turbine requires a height difference of roughly five feet to function effectively.
Tested in rivers throughout Belgium, the device can be scaled up to generate 15, 30, and 100 kilowatts. Earlier this year, the company celebrated the official opening “of the first microcentral Turbulent in Chile.”
Images via Turbulent