Linear Turbine Project

Final year undergraduate engineering students at the University of Auckland and University of Canterbury are investigating the design of a linear turbine for use in developing communities. The turbine can be implemented in villages with nearby tidal or river flows as a useful prime mover for household power.

Academic institute: University of Auckland and University of Canterbury

Project mentor: John Service

Expected completion: November 2014

Project Details

Linear_Turbine.jpgThere is a need in developing countries for a simple, inexpensive means of harnessing the seasonal low head energy flow of rivers. The linear turbine, which consists of a cascade of vanes moving in a horizontal loop across the river flow, is ideally suited to this application since, due to low flow loadings and simple design, it can be constructed from locally available material and by local manpower. A small-scale linear turbine design has been developed as a useful prime mover for household power and as a means to develop the skill and experience to build larger units. 

The design uses two loops of chain to support sheet metal vanes which are balanced so that the vane angle can change to suit operating conditions and the vanes can be tripped for speed control. Power take off is by means of a modified bicycle transmission and “v” belt drive to two car alternators. The whole assembly is supported in the river by floats and cables to the river bank.

Final year undergraduate engineering students at the University of Auckland are investigating and optimising the design of the linear turbine for use in developing communities with nearby tidal or river flows. They will be undertaking a computer analysis of flow conditions and considering possible configurations in order to determine the most appropriate solution using locally available materials.