Tablespoon pico-Hydro Turbine

A Low-Cost Pico-Hydro Turbine Made with Tablespoons  


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.

The research of MAE graduate student Kyle Gaiser and his faculty advisors (Profs. Stroeve, ChEMS, Erickson, MAE, and Delplanque, MAE) focuses on developing such a turbine. A low-cost, Turgo turbine made from tablespoons and readily available materials was designed, built, and characterized. This turbine reached a maximum power of 1.5 kW and a 62% efficiency.

The outcome of this investigation is a set of standardized equations to optimize the most important design parameters of a Turgo turbine. Hence this work enables the custom design and local manufacture of low-cost efficient Turgo turbines. In addition, the results can be expressed in terms of dimensionless parameters, which allow for scaling to systems larger than 5 kW.

You can read the proposal here.


Gaiser_Turgo_CAD_50_2               Gaiser_Turgo_SetUp_50_2

UC Davis Researchers

Graduate Student:
  • Kyle Gaiser
    Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering
Undergraduate Students:
  • Terence Hong (Graduated Dec 2012)
  • Roger LeMesurier (Junior, expected 2014)
  • Yuka Matsuyama (Junior, expected 2014)
  • Kevin Wong (Graduated June 2013)
Faculty Advisors:
  • Prof. Jean-Pierre Delplanque
    Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering
    California Small Hydropower Collaborative
  • Prof. Paul Erickson
    Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering
  • Prof. Pieter Stroeve
    Chemical Engineering and Material Science
    California Solar Energy Collaborative