Students at Cambridge University have recently created a portable hydroelectric generator that is able to supply up to 1 kW of electricity when installed in free-flowing rivers. Called the “FloDrive Turbine”, this generator could be used to power homes in developing countries, being very easy to install and needing no special equipment or infrastructure.
According to the students, this 500 kg device is designed for small-scale use on flowing rivers rather than dam-controlled waterways. Along a single river multiple devices could be deployed. “However, a large proportion of rivers are constantly flowing in slow flow rate. Therefore, the FloDrive Turbine was designed for river with a minimum flow rate of 1m/s and a uniform flow rate profile,” said Li Jiang, the project’s engineer.
The students have also designed the device to adapt to different river sizes, by creating an on-land supporting system allowing easy maintenance and installation. Besides this, they created a brushless generator to increase the device’s lifetime and robustness. These kind of generators have previously been used in wind turbines.
Until now, several university consultants have shown the interest in purchasing the FloDrive Turbine, but the team wanted to make it more efficient before putting it on the market and believe that the design needs another year’s work.