Design and Validation of a Siphonic Hydropower Systems Tool

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The Ohio State University

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Small hydropower (less than 30 MW) provides a path to adding power to the current energy infrastructure in a clean, renewable way. Further, since the available resource is consistent, it can supplement other forms of more intermittent green energy, such as wind and solar power. A large reason it is not implemented more broadly is its high initial costs, especially due to civil works during construction and installation. To mitigate this, small hydropower can be supplemented using siphonic hydropower with non-powered dams. Non-powered dams are structures already built over a waterway, primarily used for river control. By constructing a large siphon overtop of these dams and placing a reaction turbine in the middle of the piping, one can quickly, cost-effectively, and efficiently construct further hydropower schemes without the need for extensive civil works. Rickly Hydropower is a company building siphonic hydropower systems, however, they are in need of a tool to be used in the design phase for initial calculations. In this work, the construction and validation of a siphonic hydropower design tool in Microsoft Excel is explored. The tool uses certain inputs such as characteristics of the site, dimensions of the dam, material of the piping, and the flow rate through the turbine. In turn, the tool calculates various outputs, such as sizing (including length and diameter) of the piping to be used, pressure and cavitation concerns at several points, and the flow rate responses of the system. The developed tool was then validated through the construction of a scale model dam and siphon system within a flume on campus. Pressure values at two points of the siphon were found using manometers and compared to the predicted values initially produced by the tool. Results from this experiment will further confirm the efficacy of the tool, which will, in turn, aid in the design of these systems.