Water Pipes that Generate Electricity in Portland*
By John Vibes
Lucid Energy, a Portland-based energy company, has come up with a brilliant idea to harness electricity from the water that flows through a city’s pipes. Small turbines are installed into the pipes which send the energy collected from the flowing water into a power generator.
“It’s pretty rare to find a new source of energy where there’s no environmental impact. But this is inside a pipe, so no fish or endangered species are impacted. That’s what’s exciting,” Gregg Semler, CEO of Lucid Energy, said in a statement.
“We have a project in Riverside, California, where they’re using it to power streetlights at night. During the day, when electricity prices are high, they can use it to offset some of their operating costs,” Semler says.
Lucid’s new power-generating pipes have recently been installed in Portland, where they are powering many different public spaces throughout the city. This is even more efficient than many other renewable forms of energy because these pipes can harness electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, in any weather.
“We made electrical infrastructure really smart over the last 20 to 25 years, but the same hasn’t happened in water. They didn’t really know that the pipe burst until somebody from UCLA called. Our pipe can get indicators like pressure, a leading indicator for whether a pipe is leaking or not. So before it bursts and before we waste all the water, there are onboard information systems that water agencies can get to more precisely manage their infrastructure,” Semler said.
Sensors in the pipe can even monitor the quality of the water to ensure that it is safe to drink.
Semler said that this technology could be even more useful in remote areas that are farther away from central power grids.
“It’s a great source of remote power. So in places outside the city that don’t have an electrical grid, you’re able to use the system to generate energy. There’s a lot of energy in going into making sure we have safe clean drinking water. Our focus is really on helping water become more sustainable,” he said.