eGen Low Flow Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Harvester

Period of Performance: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2011


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Groton, CT 06340
Principal Investigator


Rural communities throughout the United States suffer from a severe lack of job opportunities, poor education, and poor healthcare. The population of many of these communities is shrinking at the same time and compounding problems. Simultaneously there is an increased concern regarding climate change and the nation's reliance on foreign energy supplies. The renewable energy firm, eGen LLC, has developed a hydrokinetic energy harvester that is capable of producing clean, renewable energy from slow moving water without emitting any greenhouse gases. This technology will not require the construction of dams or the rerouting of any water sources and it is designed so that it can efficiently and cost effectively be built in the United States. We have designed two patent pending devices that are being used in this energy harvester. To maximize the efficiency of the technology, vital to any renewable energy system, further research and development is required. This effort will be coordinated with the engineering school at the University of Connecticut, who will provide a testing lab with a water flume for testing and expertise including a computational fluid dynamics analysis. An Acoustic Doppler Velocity (ADV) meter (Sontek) will allow us to visualize the 3D flow velocity fields in the vicinity of the cylinder at specific locations and continuous time. Strain or displacement sensors will be attached at key locations in the structure and gage data will be collected with a data-logger and appropriate software (LabView or LoggerNet). A Linear Variable Differential Transformer (LVDT), a device used for measuring linear displacement, will allow us to measure the motion of the cylinder pinions so that estimates of power produced can be made even in the absence of an alternator. The completion of this research will provide a detailed understanding how several variables behave and allow eGen to produce a highly customized product based on the flow conditions at any site. One of the markets that we are currently targeting is the manmade watercourses, which provide several benefits including a streamlined FERC licensing process, clean water, and abundance. The US is crisscrossed with thousands of miles of aqueducts and irrigation ditches, which provides a large and unique opportunity. Many of these watercourses flow through rural farmland, where the potential for installing many units to produce large quantities of energy exists. This will provide these regions with jobs in the form of manufacturing, installing, and maintenance of the units. Additionally the end users could become energy generators and sell the excess energy. This will help the US achieve its clean energy goals, energy independence, and provide the communities in rural America an important economic opportunity.