How it works
The hydroEngine machine design combines the low cost characteristics of simple, easy-to-manufacture blades with the high specific speeds necessary for efficient, low head application.
The hydroEngine operates by transferring energy from water impacting a series of blades mounted to carbon fiber belts traveling between two parallel shafts. A generator is connected to the shafts and synchronized with the grid through a SCADA-compliant control system.
Watch the video below to see how the hydroEngine works.
Operations of the hydroEngine
The hydroEngine delivers high performance and low cost for high flow, low head sites. It is more compact and less expensive than conventional lower head Kaplan or crossflow turbines, while delivering similar power.
In addition, because it is an impulse turbine, it does not cavitate, enabling simpler civil works and reducing excavation by as much as 80%.
6 m of head
|Cost||Low||Med to High||High||High||Med to High|
The two models of the hydroEngine reduce excavation up to 80% compared to the conventional bulb turbines, allowing for higher flexibility and lower cost.
The reduced excavation, shorter penstock, and simpler configuration of the hydroEngine allows 30% to 50% cost savings in civil works, compared to the conventional Kaplan turbines.
Reduced capital cost
Performance & testing
Natel has extensively verified both generation output and durability of hydroEngine through field-verified hydraulic scale testing and a rigorous component fatigue testing program.
Hydraulic Test Facility
To support ongoing hydroEngine R&D efforts, Natel built a fully instrumented hydraulic test facility at its headquarters in Alameda. The test facility runs a 6.4:1 exact scale models of the hydroEngine and was built to the PTC-18 standards for scale model hydro turbine performance testing.
The in-house facility provides data to validate computational fluid dynamics models for both design verification and for optimizing site configurations. The facility utilizes a recirculating variable-rate pump-driven loop, with high precision flow, pressure, torque, speed measurements.
Natel’s Fatigue Lab has the ability to life-cycle test all wear components of the hydroEngine. Dedicated test rigs put components through high-cycle fatigue tests at full scale.
The testers are designed to go through high loads and tens of millions of cycles to verify life of core components. Focus has been primarily on long running fatigue testing, and on exploring new materials and methods of fabrications.