Hydrokinetic proposal for Mississippi river

Mar 23, 2010 by Lin Edwards report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Everyone is looking for alternative forms of energy, and one company proposes to generate electricity from the flow of the river Mississippi in the US, without using dams to control the water flow.

The company, Free Flow Power (FFP) from Gloucester in Massachusetts, has high hopes for its proposals because, unlike tidal hydroelectricity generation, the river water is fresh and will therefore be expected to produce fewer corrosion problems. According to US army data, the river water at New Orleans flows at about 6 kph (4 mph), and this flow could turn the blades of submerged turbines sufficiently to generate electricity to power thousands of homes, especially as moving water can generate 800 times more than wind.

The proposal should work in theory, but it is still unclear whether or not hydrokinetic power is feasible commercially. FFP has already carried out a six-month test of a submerged at Baton Rouge, and spokesman Jon Guidroz said they were happy with the results, although he gave few details.

The proposal for the Mississippi is to anchor concrete pilings deep in the river, and attach turbines to them. The only thing visible from the shore would be the cables emerging at the banks. The turbines, each with seven 3 meter (10 foot) blades, would turn very slowly to reduce the hazard to fish and marine mammals, although the noise of the turbines could still affect the behavior of animals using the river.

The design also takes the aquatic environment into account, even though some efficiency was sacrificed. The turbines are lubricated only by water, so no hazardous lubricants can leak into the river if a part breaks.

The company plans to start from the river in 2013, but the project must first be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A FERC spokesman said there were over 100 applications on file for hydroelectric and hydrokinetic projects, including proposals for the Mississippi and Ohio , which are large enough to have the potential to make hydrokinetic energy financially viable. Two other applications for hydrokinetic permits (one by FFP and one by Morgan City) are for the Wax Lake Outlet of the Atchafalaya river that empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Explore further: Research shows how householders could stay warm for less simply by storing heat better

More information: Free Flow Power - www.free-flow-power.com/Technology.html

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User comments : 10

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finitesolutions
not rated yet Mar 23, 2010
I thought of a similar solution some time ago. The main problem I see unsolved is the logs that the river is caring will inevitably stop the blades. Some sort of a conical deflection bars need to be placed in front of the turbine. But the bars might get clogged too by smaller branches.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (3) Mar 23, 2010
I thought of a similar solution some time ago. The main problem I see unsolved is the logs that the river is caring will inevitably stop the blades. Some sort of a conical deflection bars need to be placed in front of the turbine. But the bars might get clogged too by smaller branches.

No, no, no. You POWER the blades every once in a while to turn it into a giant food processor/disposal unit! HA! HA! HA!

In-Sink-Erator would probably pay to sponsor it!
croghan27
not rated yet Mar 24, 2010
Would the energy taken out of the river to turn the blades have any effect on the overall flow? Would it perhaps cause silt to build up near the turbine as the velocity of the water is reduced?
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Mar 24, 2010
Would the energy taken out of the river to turn the blades have any effect on the overall flow? Would it perhaps cause silt to build up near the turbine as the velocity of the water is reduced?
Interestingly, the overall flow of the river's water doesn't really slow. It just piles up a bit in front of the turbines and subsides behind. It's the pressure differential that really powers the turbines.
croghan27
not rated yet Mar 25, 2010
Interestingly, the overall flow of the river's water doesn't really slow. It just piles up a bit in front of the turbines and subsides behind. It's the pressure differential that really powers the turbines.


I know the Mississippi is a big river .. but a string of these turbines across any channel (where the flow is quickest) it seems to me, would effect the movement of water.

I guess you are saying it would be an immediate and localized phenomena.
ubavontuba
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2010
Interestingly, the overall flow of the river's water doesn't really slow. It just piles up a bit in front of the turbines and subsides behind. It's the pressure differential that really powers the turbines.
I know the Mississippi is a big river .. but a string of these turbines across any channel (where the flow is quickest) it seems to me, would effect the movement of water.

I guess you are saying it would be an immediate and localized phenomena.
Correct. They're obstructions, not dams. The water will actually move a little faster around them. The average flow for the system will remain the same.
croghan27
not rated yet Mar 25, 2010
Thanks for you patience, uba ... but I still have questions about the energy taken out of the river .... is it that large that it would make no difference?
ubavontuba
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2010
Thanks for you patience, uba ... but I still have questions about the energy taken out of the river .... is it that large that it would make no difference?
Look at it this way. When the water slows, it has to pile up (like with a dam). Dams have to release water to keep from overfilling. In this case, the water piles up in front until it overcomes the obstacles, and the flow simply resumes.

The energy isn't really coming from the river. The energy comes from the water cycle (evaporation and rain). It's really just a concentrated form of solar energy.
Caliban
1 / 5 (3) Mar 28, 2010
Not to forget Gravity.
ubavontuba
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 29, 2010
Not to forget Gravity.
Gravity isn't an energy source. It's only good for energy storage. It's called, "potential energy." The potential energy is delivered to the system by some other means (in this case, solar energy).

Here's an article about it:
http://en.wikiped...l_energy

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