'First of its kind' turbine to be installed at Brainerd hydrodam as part of study
A hydroelectric turbine generator will be installed at Brainerd's hydrodam next spring. The new, improved technology will hopefully generate more electricity for the city, said Bob Schulte, vice president of marketing for Amjet Turbine Systems, t...
A hydroelectric turbine generator will be installed at Brainerd's hydrodam next spring.
The new, improved technology will hopefully generate more electricity for the city, said Bob Schulte, vice president of marketing for Amjet Turbine Systems, the Iowa-based designer of the turbine generator.
At least that's the goal with the project, which is the first of its kind, he said.
Amjet will pay for just about everything during the study, like the installation, cost of the turbine and the operation.
The only tab Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) will pick up comes with a feasibility study, said BPU Superintendent Scott Magnuson.
Up to $15,000 will be paid by BPU, with the rest being covered by Amjet.
The study, which was conducted Tuesday, will detail the potential future capability for technology at the hydrodam.
It can be used in the future as the city looks to upgrade the hydrodam, Magnuson said.
The next step is to install the unit at the dam, which will happen sometime next spring.
"We're hoping to demonstrate to the world that this technology works," Schulte said.
Brainerd will be the sole test site. Three other dam operators were interested in the study, but Brainerd proved the best, Schulte said.
A neutral third party, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, will follow and document the test throughout the six-month period.
The turbine itself is 5 feet long and 7 feet in diameter, which is smaller than traditional turbines. It can generate enough to power up to 600 homes, Schulte said.
The goal is to produce electricity at dams for significantly lower costs, Schulte said.
The city will keep any profit and electricity generated during the six-month study.
The current five generators were installed at the hydrodam site 80 to 100 years ago. While they still operate well, the older technology isn't as efficient as the new, Schulte said.
"The new technology allows for more electricity to be made," he said. "There's more water there than the dam uses to make electricity. We think Brainerd can get more electricity out of the dam than it's currently getting."
Just how much more isn't clear yet, but Schulte says it's "significant."
The hydroelectric turbine generator that will be installed in Brainerd is the first of its kind, Schulte said.
The Department of Energy helped fund the project through grants, and will be watching the project closely, Schulte said.
If it's successful, it could have international attention, he said.
At the end of the six months, the city will have the choice to keep the hydroelectric turbine or not.
If they don't, Amjet will absorb the costs and remove the turbine. Amjet will restore the site to what it was.
If the city keeps it BPU can buy the turbine right away or wait as long as it wants.
The cost is yet to be determined, but Schulte said it would be discounted.
The decision to buy the turbine falls to the BPU Commission, Magnuson said. Though if BPU has to borrow money, it will be a city decision.
Either way, Brainerd will have the knowledge of what works and what doesn't in advanced technology for the future, Schulte said.
Magnuson said there are no cons in the deal.
"If we don't want it, he takes it out," he said.
Magnuson added that if something happens to the current generators in the future, they'll have an existing plan of what they can and can't do to remedy the problem, and if the new technology works.