Outrunner Hydrokinetic Turbine

Description of the market need:
The subject innovation is the development of a Hydrokinetic Turbine to convert the “mechanical energy” of a moving body of water, such as rivers and tidal movement, into electric power. The design is based on a stationary outer housing and a rotating inner cylinder where internal blades/vanes are attached. One of its applications is in rural regions that are disconnected from a major power grid. It is also suitable for regions of the world where water resources are available but with no access to power to meet the necessities, such as refrigeration.

Description of how this approach addresses that need:
This power generation design is environmentally-friendly, clean energy with no byproducts or adverse effects. The design can be scaled up or down depending on the availability of the water flow rate. The device would provide communities with electric power with minimal investment and operate continuously with minimal maintenance.

Key Features/Benefits

Description of the benefits of using this approach:
Hydrokinetic power system does not need a dam or reservoir, and uses flowing water making it much less expensive and more practical than a traditional hydropower plant. This turbine can be scaled to the size of the water source and operate well in both rivers and ocean tides. A reverse operation can also be configured for possible use as a “Propulsion” system/engine for a watercraft.

Description of other competing approaches:
Most hydrokinetic turbines are based on wind turbine configuration and use the water to generate rotational motion of a central shaft that is connected to a power generator. High rotational speeds are common feature to such design. Current design configuration is similar to an “out-runner” electric motor where the core allows or free water flow and the energy conversion occur when water rotates the turbine blades that are internally attached to a rotating cylinder, which is then connected to planetary small generators by gears. Hydrokinetic turbine spins slower, but creates high torque. Using gearboxes, the high torque is converted to high rotational speeds in a water free environment to operate the three small generators located on the outer stationary housing.

Faculty/PhD/Staff Inventor(s)
Jillian Chu
Alexander Kim
Joseph Pagliuca
Research Category
Advanced Materials Manufacturing & Mobility
Patent Status
Case Number