Natel hydraulic test facility.

Data-driven design & testing of FishSafe™ hydropower.


We use proprietary CFD simulations and scale-model performance and fish passage testing to create bespoke FishSafe™ designs that enable safe downstream fish passage at new and existing hydropower sites.

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FishSafe™️ design & feasibility studies

Natel develops detailed hydraulic designs to install  new and upgrade existing hydropower plants with  high-performance, FishSafe™ turbine runners. Our designs preserve or enhance turbine performance, ensure fish safety, and support environmental compliance. We offer:

  • Hydraulic modeling to meet desired cavitation and efficiency targets at rated and part flow
  • Fish passage survival estimates based on proprietary simulation tools and experimental data
  • Barotrauma risk assessment
  • Analysis of how FishSafe™ runners integrate with or compare to alternative mitigations
  • Consultation & stakeholder engagement support
  • Grant application assistance

Our process begins with understanding client goals, followed by developing and analyzing preliminary designs, collaborating with clients to discuss findings, and delivering a concise report summarizing results and recommendations. Initial feasibility studies can be completed in 4-6 months.

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Design execution

After assessing runner manufacturability in an initial feasibility study, we work with our OEM partners to finalize all perspectives of turbine hydraulic design including design for manufacturing, operation, maintenance, etc.

Meet Our Partners

Scale-model performance & fish passage testing

We also provide scale-model performance and fish passage testing to compliment our CFD modeling and analysis. Our unique test laboratory in California consists of a 20,000 gallon recirculating system with two branches, one of which is used for fish passage testing and the other of which is used for performance testing. Our system can deliver up 1 cms (35 cfs) of flow and simulate up to 32 m (105 ft) of net head. We offer:

  • Scale-model tests to validate hydraulic and cavitation performance and loads, according to the IEC 60193 standard, with 0.2% to 0.5% total uncertainty on hydraulic efficiency
  • Fish passage testing with a variety of species of interest at representative relative size, using site-specific runner characteristics and strike speed
  • Full-scale hydraulic and fish-passage performance analyses that combine physical results with estimations from proprietary analytical and CFD strike survival tools
Miles enjoying fish testing.
Simone and Sterling inspecting fish
Willa laughing near fish injector
Miguel and Sterling fish nets

Project commissioning

We work with our manufacturing partners to support commissioning by participating in the confirmation of compliance with design specifications and confirmation of hydraulic performance. We will also support any required validation tests of fish passage performance.