A device for generating hydroelectric energy from water in pipes

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The research group Barcelona Fluids & Energy Lab (IFLUIDS) and the Centre for Technological Innovation in Static Converters and Drives (CITCEA) of the UPC participate in the European project H-HOPE, which is focused on the development of solutions to produce clean energy based on water sources that have still not been exploited, such as pipes and water channels.

Hydroelectric energy represents approximately 35% of the electricity generated by renewable sources, a unique combination for the production of safe, low-cost, clean electricity. Taking advantage of this form of green energy is vital in the transition towards more sustainable energy models, to increase resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The project is focused on the development of innovative, sustainable solutions for harvesting hydraulic energy from pipe systems, open water channels and irrigation channels. In this way, an energy harvesting market will be promoted, which will digitalise networks for real-time monitoring, reduced maintenance costs and better management. As a result, managers of water supply networks and water channels will be able to operate their distribution systems in a more efficient way and save energy and costs.

The aim of the project is therefore to design technology in the commercial environment to obtain a new source of hydroelectric energy. The data obtained using this technology can be used to measure the quality of irrigation water for crops, manage irrigation, power weather stations with sensors for gathering various environmental parameters, monitor biodiversity in a river or provide developing communities with their own system for generating electricity with a simple, low-cost system.

Results and expected impact

In the framework of this project, the members will develop three technological devices for generating hydroelectric energy that are adapted to pipes, irrigation channels and open water channels, respectively, which they will test and validate in real conditions reproduced in the laboratory. The work of the research group IFLUIDS and of CITCEA of the UPC will focus on designing a solution adapted to water channel applications. This is a device of approximately 20 centimetres that incorporates piezoelectric materials that, when they vibrate inside the pipe, generate hydroelectric energy. This energy can be used to power various systems, such as IoT sensors.

With the technology developed by UPC researchers, operators of water supply networks and water channels will be helped to identify potential places for pilots, and to gather and analyse the corresponding data that will support the design, testing and validation of the energy.

In addition, the project will make available to citizens an online platform to facilitate the creation of systems for generating hydroelectric energy.

Consortium, budget and funding

The consortium is formed of 13 members from nine countries, coordinated by the University of Padua (Italy) and including the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech (UPC).

H-HOPE is funded by Horizon Europe as part of the European Union’s Climate, Energy and Mobility programme (Horizon Europe 2021-2027). It has a duration of four years (November 2022 to October 2026) and a total budget of €4,854,229.65.




Image: Design of the device adapted to pipes created by UPC researchers.





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