Policy / Systems / Technology

December 25, 2013


Japanese Institute Develops New Water Wheel to Generate Power from Low Gradient Flow

Keywords: Environmental Technology Renewable Energy University / Research institute 

innovative_water_wheelCopyright National Agriculture and Food Research Organization All Rights Reserved.

The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) of Japan announced on September 10, 2013, that the NARO team developed an innovative water wheel that does not require large-scale construction and can derive energy from water flowing through open channels having a low gradient, which have been hard to use as an energy source.

Whereas Japanese rural areas have a lot of hydropower potentials that could be harnessed to produce electricity, most of irrigation channels are low-gradient open channels which have been difficult to use as an energy source. The newly developed wheel, however, has an attached water-level-adjustment cover which makes it possible to produce energy from the flowing water by making adjustments to the degree of the opening in the cover, and consequently using the wheel itself to increase the water-level difference between the upstream and downstream sides of the wheel. In the case of a channel with a width of 0.9 meters, a gradient of 1/500 to 1/300, and a flow rate of 236 liters per second, the wheel can generate up to 465 watts. Moreover, the new water wheel can be installed by a crane without any major construction.

NARO expects that installing the new wheels in relatively small irrigation channels could contribute to the development of smart villages taking advantage of renewable energy sources in rural parts of Japan.