Energy / Climate Change

June 29, 2008


Micro Hydropower System with Spiral Water Turbine under Development

Keywords: Renewable Energy University / Research institute 

Copyright Assist. Prof. Hiroshi Takimoto of Toyama Pref. Univ.

Since 2001, a research team led by Assistant Professor Hiroshi Takimoto of Toyama Prefectural University has been developing a micro hydro electric generation system using a spiral water turbine. The spiral water turbine, which has spiral blades, was invented by a blacksmith in Tonami City, Toyama Prefecture in the early 20th century.

With its convenience and economical efficiency, the water mill spread nationwide in prewar Japan as a major power source for farm machinery for threshing and straw processing. The number of the water mills, however, declined radically in the postwar days as a result of the mechanization of farming.

The spiral water turbine developed by the team has about 60 percent efficiency in energy capture. When compared with conventional water wheels, such as undershot water wheels, which have 10 to 30 percent efficiency, the spiral water wheel is substantially more efficient and has greater potential for practical applications. The research team aims to improve the efficiency to more than 80 percent, which would be the same as modern hydraulic turbines.

Unlike conventional turbines, the new turbine allows hydropower generation with minimal vertical drop or flow volume, and can be applied in many untapped flows. The team plans to use the system for micro power generation for street lighting, communication devices, emergency power requirements in times of disaster, and plant growth controls in agriculture.

Posted: 2008/06/29 10:29:38 AM