Bourne Energy Develops the Flow-Thru Dam

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A major expansion in worldwide dam construction is now under way. Bourne Energy has developed a new form of dam, the Flow-Thru Dam, which has a smaller footprint, quicker to install, and smaller ecological impact than the standard dam.

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Hydropower is the most successful form of renewable energy, being the largest source of renewable power in the world as well as the lowest cost renewable energy. But instead of spending billions of dollars and years of construction on big dams, Bourne Energy has developed an alternative, the Flow-Thru Dam.

Bourne Energy believes hydropower is the best renewable power source but plans to harness it in an entirely different way. The standard dam is a fixed construction that stops a river’s flow and stores the water at a level higher than that of the turbine generators. Bourne’s Flow-Thru Dam operates inside a river without utilizing a reservoir. It is composed of large numbers of interconnected hydrokinetic generators. Pre-assembled modules are brought to site and plugged together then anchored to the bottom and/or shore. Most of the dam is submerged; all that is visible are the stabilizing floats that can also incorporate solar panels to boost power during daylight hours. This configuration reduces visibility, allows surface debris to flow through and creates a silent, energy dense system.

A standard dam produces more energy than Bourne’s Flow-Thru Dam. But more energy is consumed to build a standard dam than a Flow-Thru Dam. In fact, Bourne estimates that the Net Energy (energy produced less energy consumed to produce it) is quite similar. And because this type of dam does not stop river flow, the sediment carried by the water does not drop to the bottom, allowing the river to continue to rebuild itself. Due to the lack of heavy construction and machinery needed for this type of dam, it can be built where a standard dam cannot, opening up many new hydropower sites, some much closer to the power consumer. This means less money invested in costly transmission lines as well as less power transmission losses.

The Flow-Thru Dam will bring much needed additional electric power generation to the world without the high labor, energy and materials consumption required by the standard dam configuration. It does not require costly heavy-duty roads to be built nor long construction periods of five to ten year. And, in a time of decreasing water resources, the Flow-Thru Dam does not lose large amounts of freshwater due to evaporation in the standard reservoir.

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C. Catlin
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