In the Pipeline: A New Approach to Hydro Power

It probably won't be replacing dams and turbines anytime soon, but a new approach to generating electricity with water has caught the attention of some Canadian scientists. Instead of using the force of water flow to mechanically drive turbine blades attached to a generator, these researchers have tapped the source—the water itself—for power.

03/01/2004


It probably won't be replacing dams and turbines anytime soon, but a new approach to generating electricity with water has caught the attention of some Canadian scientists. Instead of using the force of water flow to mechanically drive turbine blades attached to a generator, these researchers have tapped the source—the water itself—for power. Water flowing through a channel naturally creates a buildup of positive and negative ions, as channel walls become charged—either because ions from the water stick to them or because some of the channel material itself dissolves. This can create problems when working with modern ceramic filters that feature extremely small openings, because the buildup of opposing charges can slow down water flow through the filter.

Larry Kostiuk, mechanical engineering professor at Canada's University of Alberta in Edmonton, and his colleague, assistant professor Daniel Y. Kwok, saw this phenomenon as an opportunity. They and their research team attached electrodes to both ends of a filter that incorporated some 450,000 channels, each one-hundredth of a millimeter wide. The filter was placed over a beaker, and water was run through it. The result: a measurable, if extremely weak, electric current was generated.

In a New York Times article related to the research, Kostiuk suggests that this kind of electrokinetic generation could someday power micro-electro-mechanical systems, which are microscopic machines manufactured using silicon-chip technology.





Product of the Year
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
40 Under Forty: Get Recognized
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
MEP Giants Program
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
September 2018
Power boiler control, Product of the Year, power generation,and integration and interoperability
August 2018
MEP Giants, lighting designs, circuit protection, ventilation systems, and more
July 2018
Integrating electrical and HVAC systems, emerging trends in fire, life safety, ASHRAE 90.4
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
click me