U.S. Army Corps Officials: New Dam Turbines
by Jedidiah Maynes
BURBANK -- Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers claim a new fixed blade hydroelectric turbine increases energy efficiency and improves fish passage.
According to a news release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District, the new turbine is at Ice Harbor Lock and Dam on the Snake River. Recent testing led the engineers to conclude that the turbine is 4% more efficient than previous designs and Corps biologist Brad Trumbo said the survival rate of balloon-tagged juvenile Chinook salmon was a little more than 98%.
According to the release, it's the first turbine specifically designed to create safer passage for fish. On top of the testing on the tagged fish, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory also developed "sensor fish," which collected data to measure pressure and acceleration while bypassing the turbine.
Engineer Martin Ahmann said the turbine reduces strike, exposure to shear, turbulence and low pressure zones.
Ahmann also said the survival numbers "put the turbine passage route at the same level or better than spillway passage."
Installation of turbines at Ice Harbor is currently underway and should be completed in 2021, followed by another batch of turbine installation to be completed by late 2023, according to the release.
The blades were built in collaboration with Voith Hydro, Inc.
In 2019 the Corps awarded a contract for a similar turbine design and replacement process for all 14 turbines at McNary Lock and Dam on the Columbia River. That project is underway as well.
New high-tech turbines at Ice Harbor improve safety for fish, produce more power by US Army Corps of Engineers
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