Bureau of Reclamation Launches Prize Competition Seeking Ideas To Continuously Power Instruments On Power Generator Rotating Shafts

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Existing sources are unable to power instruments for extended periods of time

A hydropower turbine shaft in a powerplant

A hydropower turbine shaft in a powerplant. Reclamation is seeking ideas for powering an electronic instrument on rotating shafts.

Reclamation has launched a new prize competition seeking solutions to provide direct current power of up to 20 watts for electronic instruments on hydropower generating units’ rotating shafts.

The Bureau of Reclamation has launched a new prize competition seeking solutions to provide direct current power of up to 20 watts for electronic instruments on hydropower generating units’ rotating shafts. Power sources for electronics on rotating shafts presently available include batteries and contact solutions. However, existing technologies for these types of power sources are limited with respect to operation, installation, maintenance or other factors. Thus, new solutions are needed to power these instruments, which will be installed permanently on the rotating shaft to collect continuous data of generator operation and performance.

Reclamation is making a total award pool of $250,000 available for this competition. After the competition deadline, Reclamation will select solutions for experimental validation in a laboratory or field-scale demonstration. The solvers selected for this validation will share up to $50,000, with no award smaller than $5,000. Final awards will be granted from the remaining award pool through critical analysis of the demonstration results by Reclamation and its panel of judges.

Solutions for this prize competition can be novel approaches or can build upon existing methods and technologies. The solver should submit a white paper that describes a device for providing direct current power to instruments on rotating shafts as defined in the solution requirements. It should be accompanied by a well-articulated rationale supported by literature and/or patent precedents.

Reclamation is the second largest producer of hydropower in the country, operating 53 power plants. The generating units at these plants are expected to safely and reliably produce the power that is delivered to the western electric grid. Monitoring the generating units is a critical advancement toward keeping these units operational.

Submissions for this competition must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on December 8, 2018.

Reclamation is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration on this prize competition.

To learn more about this prize competition and other competitions Reclamation has hosted, please visit https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/index.html.

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Peter Soeth
Bureau of Reclamation
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