With the goal of doubling hydropower generation in the U.S. by 2030, the U.S. Department of Energy is investing in developing technologies that will reshape the concept of hydropower by lowering costs, improving performance, and preserving the environment.

The Free Jet hydroEngine is rated 50-1400 kW.The Free Jet hydroEngine is rated 50-1400 kW.A DOE Small Business Innovation Research award has enabled California-based Natel Energy to pursue development of its low impact hydroelectric power technology.

Their turbines produce electricity using a cascade of smaller dams with low head drops, as opposed to one big dam. The low head installations restore wetlands and slow the rate of water runoff, which is y important for mitigating floods.

The turbines do not require high pressure, which means the head can be much smaller, and operate at constant water pressure which eliminates cavitation problems. Civil construction costs are much lower than for big dams, as these turbines can be installed in numerous small structures which take advantage of natural river landscapes without disrupting the ecosystem (see video).

The Free-jet hydroEngine is rated to 50-1400 kW. Reduced excavation, shorter penstock, and simpler configuration of the hydroEngine allow 30% - 50% cost savings in civil works compared to conventional Kaplan turbines, the company says. Generation output and durability have been verified through hydraulic scale testing and a component fatigue testing program.

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