Low-cost DIY Turgo Turbine.
A low-cost DIY hydroelectric Turgo turbine made from household tablespoons and optimized to achieve 1.5 kW mechanical power at over 60% efficiency.

About[edit | edit source]

Through a grant from the UC Davis Blum Center for Developing Economies, a student-led team was sent to Rwanda to conduct educational workshops and feasibility studies for locally-manufactured small scale hydroelectric systems. The trip included surveys of existing and potential hydroelectric sites, village workshops that leveraged participatory design and ideation for local sourcing of hydroelectric materials and their costs, as well as an internship for two engineering students that included technical training and business and government networking. Having identified capital costs and turbine inefficiency as two factors hindering the implementation of pico-hydro systems in rural villages, the student team designed, built, and tested a low-cost pico-hydro Turgo turbine made from tablespoons. The Turgo Turbine is well suited for high head, low flow applications. Here, this low-cost "tablespoon" turbine is optimized by experimentally testing six design parameters: nozzle diameter, jet inlet angle, number of spoons, turbine speed, spoon orientation, and jet impact location. The turbine achieved 1.5 kW of mechanical power at 63% efficiency.

Video[edit | edit source]


Research Article[edit | edit source]

Source[edit | edit source]

Kyle Gaiser, Paul Erickson, Pieter Stroeve, Jean-Pierre Delplanque, An experimental investigation of design parameters for pico-hydro Turgo turbines using a response surface methodology, Renewable Energy, Volume 85, January 2016, Pages 406-418, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2015.06.049. Full Text Open Access

Research Abstract[edit | edit source]

Millions of off-grid homes in remote areas around the world have access to pico-hydro (5 kW or less) resources that are undeveloped due to prohibitive installed costs ($/kW). The Turgo turbine, a hydroelectric impulse turbine generally suited for medium to high head applications, has gained renewed attention in research due to its potential applicability to such sites. Nevertheless, published literature about the Turgo turbine is limited and indicates that current theory and experimental knowledge do not adequately explain the effects of certain design parameters, such as nozzle diameter, jet inlet angle, number of blades, and blade speed on the turbine's efficiency. In this study, these parameters are used in a three-level central composite response surface experiment. A low-cost Turgo turbine is built and tested from readily available materials and a second order regression model is developed to predict its efficiency as a function of each parameter above and their interactions. The effects of blade orientation angle and jet impact location on efficiency are also investigated and experimentally found to be of relatively little significance to the turbine. The purpose of this study is to establish empirical design guidelines that enable small hydroelectric manufacturers and individuals to design low-cost efficient Turgo Turbines that can be optimized to a specific pico-hydro site. The results are also expressed in dimensionless parameters to allow for potential scaling to larger systems and manufacturers.

Paper Highlights[edit | edit source]

  • A pico-hydro Turgo Turbine was built from household materials at a cost of $30 USD.
  • Experimentally determined the effect of jet angle, blade number, nozzle diameter and RPM on efficiency.
  • Empirical formulae enable optimized turbine design for any given head and flow and achieved 62% mechanical efficiency.
  • Results indicate that all parameters have significant second-order main effects and interactions.
  • Optimum parameters were: 35° nozzle angle, nozzle diameter to blade spacing ratio = 0.94, and speed ratio of 0.43.

Keywords[edit | edit source]

Do-It-Yourself; Pico-hydro; Turgo turbine; Hydroelectricity; Optimization

Photos[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]