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Hydrovolts Newsletter

Hydrovolts generates power from all kinds of flowing water

"Power from Water!" April 2011
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Hydrovolts' new hydropower technology taps a plentiful but overlooked global source of renewable energy from water currents in canals and channels. Hydrovolts turbines offer an economical and easy way to generate reliable, local clean power in millions of locations around the world. There's nothing else like it.

Hydrovolts' floating Flipwing turbine is simple to deploy and connect. Just drop it in the water and tether or anchor. No dams, weirs or site preparation are needed, reducing costs and minimizing environmental impacts.

Hydrovolts technology offers reliability, predictability, cost-efficiency and control unmatched by other renewable energy sources.

Hydrovolts' potential market is huge: There are tens of thousands of man-made water canals in countries around the globe whose currents are ideal for generating power from the Flipwing turbine.

Hydrovolts capitalizes upon the large global opportunity of untapped energy of controlled flowing water, enabling clean electricity in places never before possible.


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Hydrovolts had two technology breakthroughs this month.  At the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Midshipman Travis Nicks demonstrated that a "backpack - style" Hydrovolts Flipwing rotor, designed by Hydrovolts's director Dr. Paul Curtis, rotates in waves and can function as a wave energy generator.  The Academy operates a 120-ft long wave/tow tank, and Midshipman Nicks designed a jig to hold the rotor in the artificial waves inside the tank.  
Below:  The 120-ft wave/tow tank at the Naval Academy.
US Naval Academy Wave Tank
The Flipwing in the tank, from overhead:
Flipwing in Navy tank
See Youtube video of the Hydrovolts Flipwing wave energy converter in operation.  

This is an extraordinary development - we thought the Flipwing had some potential in breaking waves but not in regular swells!  It could be used as an ocean wave energy generator on a large scale.  This opens a new market for our technology - although we will not develop it ourselves (our business model remains canal power), we are establishing a partnership with the US Navy and will include this in our existing partnership with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Hydrovolts CEO Burt Hamner will visit the US Naval Academy on Thursday April 14 to present a lecture on hydrokinetic energy for ocean applications, including the exciting news from the Academy tank itself, for the school chapter of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.  He will also visit the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division and the David Taylor Model Basin where the Navy has invited Hydrovolts to test its turbines later this year.

Separately, we proved the "switchblade" turbine, with a barrel-shaped rotor, works just fine as a waterfall energy generator.  The West Sound Utility District wastewater treatment plant in Port Orchard, Washington has an internal 12-foot waterfall at the end of the treatment channel.  They have been eager to harvest energy from it.  We designed our turbine so it can use a barrel rotor as an overshot or undershot paddlewheel and tried it out on April 8.  Here's a drawing of it:

Hydrovolts waterfall turbine drawing

The turbine worked great, exceeding expectations, with potential from making over a kilowatt of constant power from this relatively small wastewater plant with flow of about 2 million gallons per day (MGD).  Here's a picture of the installed turbine, spinning up to 190 RPM and making over 200 watts in just a fifth of the flow (this is just a prototype proof of concept):

Hydrovolts turbine in wastewater treatment plant waterfall
Our next step is to use (more) sandbags to create a funnel and narrow the waterfall so all of it hits the turbine rotor.  Look for more results next month.

We know of several other plants with flows over 10 MGD with similar drops where larger turbines will make more power.  This is another exciting development, as there are over 25,000 publicly owned wastewater treatment plants in the USA, and who knows how many waterfalls where this will work.  And, the turbine is our canal turbine, just with a different rotor.  And like the canal turbine, it installed in just a few hours.  In some regions we are sure this machine will pay for itself within two to three years.  Know of any waterfalls or spillways where people nearby need renewable power?

Meanwhile at Harvard the Hydrovolts student team has named their project turbine the Blade Runner and is towing in Harvard's Olympic pool to test it out.  Here's the gang in the Engineering building basement shop:

Harvard Hydrovolts student project gang in the shop

The testing will be done this coming week.  To participate, Hydrovolts CEO Burt Hamner will give a lecture at Harvard on Wed April 13 , to which the public is invited, see link for details.
Imagine H2O logo and winner 
Last month Hydrovolts won First Prize in the international Imagine H2O Water-Energy Nexus competition, beating more than 50 companies for the prize.  10 distinguished judges selected the finalists based primarily on the practicality and promise of their business plans, and obvious impact of their technology.  Hydrovolts won $20,000 in cash and $30,000 in legal and accounting services from Cooley LLP and PwC.  The Imagine H2O prize has created amazing media attention for Hydrovolts, including a feature article in the New York Times.  Over 50 papers, websites and blogs have covered our win.  We have received excited inquiries from around the world and a very serious proposal to provide turbines to Pakistan as part of the US government's support for economic development in that country.  Pakistan is perhaps the most heavily irrigated country in the world, with over 53,000 km of main canals and over a million km of minor canals. 
Due to the Imagine H2O prize, Hydrovolts has been invited to be an exhibitor in the US EPA National Sustainable Design Expo on the Washington Mall on April 16-17.  

US EPA P3 Exhibition featuring Hydrovolts
The exhibit features only a few companies, and over 50 university student teams from around the USA demonstrating their own sustainable innovations.  If you are in Washington DC that weekend come to the exhibit, it's free, but come early, it gets crowded, over 5000 people attended last year.

Further evidence of the growing support for the new hydrokinetic energy industry is the introduction in the US Senate of S.630, the Marine and Hydrokinetic (MHK) Renewable Energy Promotion Act of 2011. It authorizes $75 million a year for three years for technology and environmental R&D grants and has bi-partisan support (hard to believe but true).  

Conferences and Exhibitions

The US Council of Irrigation Districts is holding a conference on Emerging Challenges and Opportunities for Irrigation Managers in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 26-29.  It features a full-day session on low-head hydropower for canals.  Hydrovolts management will attend the conference.

The company will be presenting at the Investor's Circle Spring 2011 Venture Fair & Forum on May 2-4 in downtown San Francisco.  Investor's Circle is an international group of investors seeking social as well as economic impact.  Bay area friends are encouraged to get in touch to plan social and business meetings that week.

Hydrovolts CEO Burt Hamner will be presenting a paper on hydrokinetic turbine rotor comparisons on June 16 in Boston at the TechConnect Cleantech / Water Technologies conference session.  He will also be working with Harvard and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that week.  Boston area friends are encouraged to get in touch to plan social and business meetings that week.  
Hydrovolts will be featured at the Water Environment Federation's big conference on Energy and Water 2011: Efficiency, Generation, Management, and Climate Impacts, in Chicago on July 31-Aug 3.  We will participate with the Imagine H2O organization which is a sponsor. 
Thanks to everyone who came to our party at Hydrovolts' home in the McKinstry Innovation Center last month.  It was great to meet new friends and supporters.  Many people asked about investing in Hydrovolts.  An investor package can be obtained by contacting  

Thanks again to our investors and supporters for helping us advance this great new clean energy technology for the world.
On behalf of everyone at Hydrovolts, Inc.
Our best regards,

 Burt Hamner, CEO
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