Start-up business for water-power technology to open in Hamilton

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

A new business start-up that’s developed water turbine technology for alternative energy will open in Hamilton at BizTech Center by the end of January.

The company, kW River Hydroelectric, was co-founded in 2013 by Paul Kling, of Colerain Twp., a retired Duke Energy executive; and Fred Williams, retired from the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, the device’s inventor.

Williams has developed a device that fits on a low-head dam in a river. It captures the power of water flowing over the dam, converting it to electricity. Water goes in the turbine, spins a generator, and comes out the other side.

The device’s spinning wheels are contained in an enclosure that’s safe for canoes and debris to float over, and for fish and other wildlife to pass through without harm. The turbine has an added safety benefit of covering the deadly turbulence at the bottom of the dam for people in the river.

Water is a reliable, predictable source of energy, Williams said.

“If a person is not completely convinced that global warming is happening, at least this can address the threat by generating more electricity from pollution-free means,” Williams said.

“Bottom line, coal is not sustainable into the indefinite future,” Williams said. “We need to transition to renewable.”

A low-head dam has an elevation of less than 15 feet. There are more than 72,000 low-head dams across the United States, including the Great Miami River that winds through this region on its way to the Ohio River, according to Kling’s and Williams’ research.

Many of these dams were built before 1950 for flood control and as a reliable source of water for surrounding industries, according to Kling and Williams.

“There’s energy there that’s being wasted,” Kling said.

Currently, kW River Hydroelectic is seeking investors and grants to finalize the design and manufacturing of the product. Meanwhile, Central State University has been researching simulated models of the hydroelectric turbines using previously awarded grant funds from the Electric Power Research Institute.

A prototype of the turbine will be tested at a low dam in the Great Miami River in Hamilton, one reason for kW River opening at BizTech.

BizTech, 20 High Street, offers discounted rent and other services for new business start-ups.

“The question always comes up, why didn’t somebody come up with this 50 years ago? There’s nothing new here,” Kling said.

“The reason was coal was so cheap and available… but then all of a sudden, coal became un-cheap and people got interested in solar and wind,” Kling said.

“Solar only works during the day, on a good day, for three or four hours. Wind only works when the wind blows,” he said.

“The water comes over this dam 24/7.”

Hydro-power could provide an alternative source of energy for utilities to add to their portfolios. Hamilton city government, for example, which owns its own electricity and water utility services, wants to provide 100 percent renewable power by 2015, said Antony Seppi, business development specialist for the city.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio currently requires electric distribution utilities and electric services in the state to get 25 percent of power sold from renewable energy sources by 2025.

If 3 percent of the dams in the U.S. were each outfitted with three of these turbines, it would produce the power equivalent of a 720 megawatt coal-fired plant, Kling said.


©2013 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)

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