An Australian company is winning praise for its uniquely designed micro hydro-turbine system aimed at providing power mainly in remote communities, where expensive, high-emissions diesel is often the fuel of necessity.

Sundermann Water Power, located in Hamilton South in New South Wales, Australia, earned a spot as a finalist in the recent Australian Cleantech Ideas Competition (and some love from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, where we happened upon the story) for its Sundermann Turbine. What’s so special about it? It’s all in the blade configuration, the company says.

micro hydro-turbine, Sundermann Water Power
image via Sundermann Water Power

Instead of being fixed, the turbine’s blades tilt during the rotating cycle, turning half a revolution for each full revolution of the central shaft. “This configuration allows each blade to contribute a unidirectional force to the central shaft, for virtually the entire rotational cycle,” the company says. “In this way they can efficiently utilize the kinetic energy of the moving water.”

micro hydro-turbine Sundermann Water Power
image via Sundermann Water Power

Sundermann says its turbine is 90 percent more efficient that traditional tidal power devices, where water hits the blade and flows past or around it. This allows the turbine to function in low-flow situations, reaching maximum operational efficiency in rivers or ocean currents moving at just 6 to 12 knots.

The company says that the turbine can work solo to deliver up to 100 kilowatts (kW) of power, or production scaled up to 1 megawatt using multiple turbines. As for environmental impact, it generates clean energy, and the company says impact on marine life is minimized by the slow rotational speed of the turbine along with protective barriers.

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