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INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – VOLUME 47, NUMBER 6
New technology turns gravity-fed pipes into power producers
“PBS Newshour” recently interviewed Susan Priddy, director of operations for startup Lucid Energy. The company has developed a system that uses the flow of water through gravity-fed drinking water pipes to produce electricity, according to the program.
Priddy and Lucid engineers monitor the energy water generates as it flows through turbines integrated into the pipes. The system is billed as the first hydroelectric system designed to harness the energy, which can be found in gravity-fed water pipes through the country.
“We have got water flowing this direction,” Hani Sreenivasan said. “The turbine is right here. And the flow of the water, because it’s a lift-based system, just turns the turbine. And then the turbine is connected to the generator. And from the generator, it goes through some power electronics across the street to the grid.”
At that time the system was generating 200 kilowatts, roughly enough energy for 150 homes. Lucid officials say the system produces electricity around the clock with no environmental impact.
Tradisional sources of renewable energy cost three or four times as much to produce, they told Sreenivasan. The pilot project’s 60-foot pipe and four turbines inside cost nearly $2 million to build and install. Although that’s far more expensive than a traditional water pipe, private investors funded the bill.
The city’s power utility has agreed to buy the energy for the next 20 years, with Lucid Energy, the city’s water bureau and investors sharing the profits.
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