UPDATE / Sep 25, 2019
TECHNOLOGY INSPIRED BY NATURE
Turbulent is a green-tech company developing damless, eco-friendly water turbines for rivers or canals with small drops. Turbulent’s design is inspired by nature itself, using vortex technology to deliver continuous and cost-effective renewable energy on-site without cost to the local ecosystem. The turbine allows fish and debris to pass through unharmed, keeping maintenance low, while control software keeps efficiency high. And it’s easy to install —anywhere in the world!
Whether in urban settings or off-grid rural projects, Turbulent believes energy production can work together with nature to satisfy growing global energy demands, and has finally created a robust solution that investors and developers can be confident in. The turbine is based on the vortex principle, using a natural whirlpool to generate energy. The interaction between gravity, the natural flow, and the rotor allows the turbine to harness energy from the stream.
What’s new about this technology is that by removing all the complexity and substituting it with simple components, Turbulent makes hydropower more simple than ever before. As a scalable solution, a single turbine can generate up to 100kW. As an interconnected organism, a Turbulent low-head hydropower plant can generate up to several MW. The turbine’s innovative design ensures a robust and reliable green energy technology that can be developed and maintained locally. With a remote monitoring system included, the turbine can be controlled and kept at a high level of performance from anywhere at any time. In time, this feature will also make a predictive maintenance plan possible; the user will know that a component needs to be maintained in advance, not because production is down!
In other words, the Turbulent turbines are made to be simple, predictable, scalable and cost-efficient, reducing civil works, logistics, installation requirements, and maintenance, as well as to be neutral to fish, debris and sediments without extra structures.
The CORE Unit
The turbine’s core unit can be divided into five parts: a mechanical core, an electrical core, a sluice gate for flow control, a trash rack for large debris and a safety mesh. The mechanical core is basically an impeller that is mounted in a cage for easy installation. This impeller rotates with the natural flow of the stream, creating a low-pressure vortex. The kinetic energy generated by the rotation of the impeller is then transferred to the electrical core.
The electrical core consists of: a gearbox, a generator, and power electronics. In essence, the gearbox transmits the power of the turbine to the generator, where it is converted into electricity. During the industrialization process, Turbulent has incorporated some of the world’s top-class suppliers for components, such as Siemens-Flenders for couplings, the gearbox, and a premium efficiency IE3 generator, all three being synonymous with high quality in the industry. The blades of the impeller can be customized for the flow of the stream to maximize its performance. Furthermore, they can be manually tilted to produce the most energy in both summer and winter flow.
With only the impeller and drive shaft as movable parts and by using some of the highest quality components, the Turbulent turbine requires minimal maintenance and it has very low operating costs.
Transport, Installation and Civil Works
As long as there is a dirt road, the core unit can be easily transported. Model A can be carried on a pickup truck, Model B on a small-medium truck and Model C on a medium-large truck. A small-medium crane will be for most cases sufficient for placing the turbine in the basin. The civil works are locally manufactured and they can be done by local workers without specific construction skills, which facilitates a smooth local distribution and development partnership.
In summary, all the features mentioned make Turbulent a perfect fit for continuous, on-site green energy generation. For more information, see our technology page.
15kW Pilot Plant Gone Viral
In 2016 after winning several well-renowned innovation prizes in 2016, Turbulent was ready to scale up. A privileged hydrology, new local incentives for net billing law, as well as winning EUR 60.000 for the 1st prize Engie Endeavor Innovation, made Turbulent choose Chile for their first international installation.
The 15kW pilot plant in Doñihue, Chile, is the first commercial-scale vortex turbine operating in real-life conditions. It is being used to test and verify all technical developments so far and to test the Chilean market. It provides energy for Molino California, a local aviculture farm, who at that time was operating at a loss due to high electricity costs from their local energy supplier.
In October 2017, the Turbulent team released a promotional video about the functions and features of the installation including animated renders and real footage of the 15kW turbine. The video was later posted on Reddit and in only two days it reached more than one million views. It caused such a hype that The Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, invited co-founder Geert Slachmuylders to give a workshop about how Turbulent reached 18 million views in 2 months.
Since the launch of the video, new editions have been posted everywhere across social media channels such as Tech Insider, Cheddar, Viral Trend, World Economic Forum, 9GAG, Springwise, and many others. In total, Turbulent vortex turbine has now received more than 100 million views, which has translated into several thousands of requests worldwide!
The Future of Renewable Energy: Decentralized and Interconnected
The renewable energy revolution has just begun, and there is no question that in the next few years it will become a large —if not the largest— player in the world’s rural electrification. However, most of the technology available is either non-continuous —and therefore in need of batteries— or requires large installations with costly and long transmission networks. In many cases, they also take up significant surface space and can drastically modify the natural environment. Instead of building one giant plant, why not making a micro-interconnected network?
Turbulent truly believes in decentralized and connected devices —just like nature, which also works in networks of small units. With a potential of nearly one-third of the annual global energy requirement, low-head hydropower still has a major role to play in the future. Furthermore, the type of drops and flow in which the turbines can be installed can be easily found in most rivers around the globe. As a run-in-river technology, Turbulent has one of the lowest carbon footprint of all electricity generation technologies as it requires far fewer raw materials (steel, concrete) than most. The decentralized units reduce infrastructure costs and distribution losses by producing power where it’s consumed. This way, Turbulent provides a solution which is continuous, easy to maintain, and economically competitive.
You can stay updated about Turbulent on our social media channels.
Our warmest regards, the Turbulent team.