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July 2024

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Torrents of water flow beneath cities all over the world, creating pressure in their pipelines which must be vented. Lucid Energy in Portland, Oregon, has found a way to harness that pressure and change it into useable energy, without disrupting water delivery or the environment. The company has invented a series of water turbines, which look like giant egg beaters that are placed in large, gravity-fed pipelines. As water flows through the pipes, the turbines spin, creating renewable energy which can then be used to generate clean water or be sold back to the power company.

Sensors installed in the pipes can also detect changes in water pressure, helping to predict potential burst pipes, saving millions of gallons that would otherwise be wasted. They can also monitor for contaminants in the drinking water. This system is capturing energy—free energy—that is otherwise being lost. It operates day and night and is completely independent of the weather. And since it’s already enclosed, no fish or wildlife are harmed. For water utilities, which use massive amounts of electricity, this approach is a game changer that can make it cheaper to provide clean drinking water.

They can either use the power themselves or sell it as a new source of revenue. Now, in places like Riverside, California and Portland, Oregon, when you turn on the tap, you are generating excess electricity that runs water operations during the day and powers the streetlights at night. With the U.S. water infrastructure due to be overhauled over the next 20 years, there’s an opportunity here, to add these water turbines everywhere, creating renewable energy within existing water delivery systems. And this is just the beginning, as this technology is gaining worldwide attention, because the production of clean water and energy are so closely dependent, and are now more sustainable.

This story brought to you by Arroyo Seco Live. Building community through creativity. SecoLive.org
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