Pico-Hydro Turbine Design for Powering Water Disinfection


This project has been outsourced to WERL by a Toronto-based company that is currently developing innovative inline systems for water disinfection. The company is focusing on two potential markets for their technology: swimming pool treatment (reducing the amount of harmful chemicals a user must manually put in their pool) and small scale drinking water disinfection. The disinfection systems use electrochemical processes appropriate for each application. Power is provided by a generator that is coupled to a pico-scale turbine spun by the water flow within the system. The systems do not require electrical power or external control, which makes them well-suited for improving drinking water access in communities that lack reliable power sources.


Some key challenges exist for the design of pico-scale turbines. There are very few pico-hydro systems reported to operate within the ranges necessary to provide power for this application and current research of design techniques for these turbines is sparse. The current turbine efficiency is relatively low at certain flow rates within its range of operation: improvements here will increase the robustness of the disinfection system under variable operating conditions.


Research Objectives

The goal of this research is to develop a pico-hydro turbine capable of powering an in-line electrochemical water disinfection system for a variety of input flow conditions. This goal is broken down into the following research objectives:

  1. Develop a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model to evaluate the performance of different turbine and system configurations. Validate the CFD model with comparisons to experimental results.
  2. Implement an iterative multi-objective optimization scheme to modify the turbine geometry and improve the system’s performance across a range of operating points.
  3. Improve models of the electrochemical processes and electrical systems to enable better automatic control and load-matching in the disinfection system.