As governments at the municipal, state and federal levels mandate renewable energy consumption levels, the race is on to be the next “it” solution for these agencies. Current sources have their limitations, however. For instance, cloudy days inhibit solar power, and calm conditions won’t move wind turbines. Lucid Energy’s new offering – the LucidPipe Power System – captures energy from moving water inside large water pipes to produce clean, low-cost electricity, according to Director of Business Development Josh Kanagy.
LucidPipe is applicable to a range of flow conditions, volumes and velocities. “Our mission is to produce up to 20 percent of a water-intensive customer’s electrical needs with a source of energy that is self-generated and will reduce their annual electricity costs,” Kanagy says.
“In-conduit hydropower is usually more cost effective than other sources of renewable energy such as wind and solar,” Kanagy adds. “Part of that is because the water is flowing through the pipelines at all times, so there are no issues of intermittence that you might have with wind and solar. It creates a compelling renewable energy alternative for energy-intensive users like municipal utilities, irrigation operators and companies that produce paper, energy, chemicals and food.”
The LucidPipe Power System’s lift-based, vertical axis, spherical turbine design generates electricity by extracting excess head pressure from large-diameter, gravity-fed water pipelines and effluent streams. The system can be installed into a single pipeline without disrupting operations.
According to the company, the amount of electricity generated is a function of the rate of flow and the pressure inside the transmission pipe. For example, in a standard 60-inch-diameter pipeline, with flow velocity of 7 feet per second and 12 feet of excess head pressure, a single LucidPipe unit can produce up to 100 kilowatts of power while extracting less than 1 PSI from the system. Adding multiple turbines in a pipeline with these characteristics has the potential to generate millions of megawatt hours of renewable energy without environmental impact.
New to the Scene
Lucid Energy was formed in 2007 as an innovative clean technology company focused on hydrokinetics; in 2009 the company invented its in-pipe turbine generator. In 2009, the company also formed a partnership with Northwest Pipe Co., the largest manufacturer of steel water transmission pipe in the United States, to develop a complete in-pipe hydropower generator system.
Since 2009, Lucid Energy says it has secured more than $3 million in private funding and more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. Between 2010 and 2011, Lucid Energy piloted three generations of the LucidPipe Power System in in-line water pipelines at the Western Municipal Water District in Riverside, Calif.
It recently added its first commercial system in Riverside, and the company is working with other cities throughout the United States to provide clean, local sources of energy that reducing operating costs and improve energy security. Kanagy says Lucid Energy is working on projects in New York, Texas, California, Oregon, Canada and Israel.
According to Kanagy, Lucid Energy’s systems can be applied wherever large amounts of water are being transported in gravity fed pipelines. This means the company is not limited to serving municipalities alone. Kanagy says the system also has industrial and agricultural applications.
“Where there are large amounts of water being used, there usually are large amounts of energy being used, as well,” Kanagy says. “When there is a large amount of energy, you need a lot of water to support that. That makes the LucidPipe Power System applicable for various market segments in terms of reducing energy consumption.”
Along with providing a reliable resource of renewable energy, the LucidPipe Power System has the potential to improve energy security in the United States, according to Kanagy. Since the system is distributed through out a region and relies on hydropower contained within pipelines that never shut off, the chances of grid interruption on a macro scale are minimal.
“Large infrastructure companies are recognizing the nexus between energy and water,” Kanagy says. “The LucidPipe power system is an important innovation in the race to deploy smart energy and water infrastructure.”