Making Hydropower More Environmentally Friendly With Sensor Fish

Hydropower has long provided a flexible, low-cost, and renewable source of power for the United States—since the 1800s, in fact. Even today, in fact, hydropower accounted for roughly half of the nation’s renewable-generated electricity in 2013.  The Energy Department, in collaboration with the national laboratories and industry, is working to advance hydropower technologies by making them more efficient and environmental friendly.

Over the past 15 years,  the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)  has developed and improved a small device called the Sensor Fish that measures the physical forces fish experience as they pass through hydroelectric facilities such as dam turbines and spillways.

The Sensor Fish provides researchers with quick, reliable feedback on changes in pressure, acceleration, strain, turbulence, and other forces as the neutrally-buoyant device moves through hydro facilities—providing a close picture of what the fish would experience.

The Sensor Fish, funded in part by the Energy Department’s Water Power Program, represents a big breakthrough for biologists and engineers, who previously relied largely on live fish tests or computer models to study spillway and turbine passage environments. Researchers can now use the Sensor Fish in combination with other available methods to collect better data and help improve the design of more fish-friendly turbines and hydropower projects, improving the survival rate of fish populations and lessening the chance of individual fish injuries.

Full Article: http://ow.ly/DErkl

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