Amjet - Model ATS-63 series - Hydro Turbine/Generator
The ATS-63 series hydro turbine/generator combines the turbine and generator functions in to a single housing, thereby creating an in-line unit that can be suspended in a conduit or placed on a bulkhead. The unit is made of high-strength, engineered composite components like those now found in innovative automobiles and advanced jet aircraft, reducing weight and eliminating corrosion. The resilient water-contact services diminish erosion and reduce damage from small objects passing through the system.
Power generation is accomplished using a brushless direct current (DC) rim generator providing a very power-dense, low-weight, compact unit. Mechanical flow control surfaces are eliminated. Flow control is obtained electronically in a more efficient manner, producing efficiency performance over a wide range rather than just the 'sweet spot' of conventional systems. A 1/8 scale model was tested and validated by the University of Iowa, confirming the basic approach and performance capability of the ATS-63.
The ATS-63 has been in development since 2009, with investor funding and assistance from the State of Iowa, Lee County, and the City of Keokuk. A 1/8-scale model unit was successfully tested for hydraulic and electrical performance by the University of Iowa’s Hydraulics Lab in 2012, confirming computer performance designs and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) performed earlier. With funding from the DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) program in 2013, ATS completed the full-scale unit design and is now ready to manufacture them. In April 2014, the company received an additional $1 million DOE/EERE Small Business grant for continued efforts. A full-scale demonstration test at an actual operating site is planned for early 2015.
With the exception of the generator magnetic and electric conductive elements, the demonstration unit will be made entirely of composite materials. Portions of the unit will be made using 3D printing techniques, within the current state-of-the-art. The demonstration project includes additional research to enable additional portions of the unit to be built using 3D printing materials and techniques as that technology continues to mature.
The ATS-63 series hydro turbine/generator, because of its compact size and low weight, has its own lifting mechanism to move the unit from an operating position to a maintenance position in which any part or the complete unit can be serviced or replaced in one day.
Power delivery to the grid is done through an inverter specially adapted to operating in conjunction with the DC generator. The unit includes a control system that integrated operational data and accepts control commands for maintaining the pool level. ATS will maintain a central control station via the Internet which monitors all ATS units in operation and included automated early-warning signals and controls to alert local operators.
The units can be installed in dam bulkheads in a weir, in canals or conduits, submerged in a bypass dam or canal, or in any variety of retrofit applications to replace existing older units.
Most current low-head hydro technologies use multiple separate and site-customized components brought together to achieve a complete generating plant. These individual 'boxes' as shown below are assembled to work together to go from water-to-wire.
Water flows through a civil works 'box' to a turbine box. The turbine box typically has mechanical wicket gates to control the water flow in such a way to enable the turbine to operate at constant speed. The pitch of the turbine blades is typically also varied by a hydraulics box as water conditions vary. The turbine is connected to a gear box to change the turbine rotational speed into the required constant generator speed. Finally, the generator box converts the rotation of the shaft into electricity and feeds it to the switchgear box for connection to the electric grid. Some conventional technologies have up to 70 mechanical moving parts in all of the boxes.
In dramatic contrast, the ATS-63 incorporates all of these functions into a single, integrated turbine/generator unit. It has only one moving part - the turbine rotor. The result is reduced mechanical complexity, weight and maintenance. We smile when we hear organizational theorists encouraging everyone to 'think outside the box'. With the ATS-63, we emphasize the advantages of thinking inside the box.
Some recent technologies also use a single box. But they are made of metal so they are heavy, can corrode, most do not have the Amjet advantage of variable speed, and they are imported from overseas.