Reclamation selects prize competition winners to improve hydropower generation unit monitoring

Written by: Peter Soeth

Power generators like these ones at Parker Dam may benefit from the information learned in this prize competition.
Power generators like these ones at Parker Dam may benefit from the information learned in this prize competition.
Hydropower units at Bureau of Reclamation facilities reliably and safely produce power and rely upon electronic instruments to collect data and monitor the hydropower machines. Through the Powering Electronic Equipment on a Rotating Shaft Prize Competition, Reclamation selected nine ideas to share $35,000 in prizes that show potential to improve these monitoring devices.

"It is important that hydropower generating units be able to operate longer with reduced downtime," Reclamation Science Advisor David Raff, Ph.D. said. "The solutions submitted show there is the promise to find sufficient power sources for devices that can provide the information facility managers need to ensure the safe and reliable operation of hydropower generating units."

Wireless data acquisition units on hydropower units have a finite amount of energy available, typically using batteries, allowing them to operate for a limited length of time. This limitation requires the generating unit to be taken out of service for short durations to perform testing and recharge or replace the batteries that power the equipment.

The CoScientific LLC team of Darren Verebelyi and Clint Schneider based in Tuscon, Arizona, and the team of Fredrik Kauma and Andreas Berggren residing in Skelleftea, Sweden, will each receive $7,500 for their submissions. CoScientific proposed using small-scale wind turbines attached to the rotating shaft and requires no external power source. It uses off-the-shelf components with a minimal amount of custom manufactured components for the installation on the device on the rotating shaft. Kauma and Berggren proposed using a shaft-mounted spinning gyro-generator. It is self-contained, easy to install and appears capable of providing a steady power supply before, during, and after shaft rotation.

The following submissions will each receive $5,000:

  • Halina Stromecky of Des Plaines, Illinois, proposed the use of flexible photovoltaic cells on the rotating shaft illuminated by stationary LED light sources.
  • Eric Nutsch of Burley, Idaho, proposed using flexible photovoltaic cells with an infrared light source to produce power.
  • Christine Parisani's, Goose Creek, South Carolina, proposal uses magnetic induction via two stationary permanent magnets and two shaft-mounted coils with accompanying electronics to generate a DC voltage and charge lithium-ion batteries.
  • Christopher Suprock, of Warren, New Hampshire, proposed using magnetic induction by near or far field radio frequency power transfer.

One solution submitted was from an individual that was ineligible to win a prize under the rules of the competition. Although the submission was not eligible to receive a prize, Marek Knor of Poland, still granted the federal government a license to use his submission. An honorable recognition goes to Knor for his idea to use magnetic induction via multiple externally mounted permanent magnets in an alternating configuration and a shaft-mounted, elastic belt consisting of multiple independent inductor modules.

The selected projects were provided the opportunity to submit prototypes of their winning Phase I ideas to be evaluated in Reclamation’s lab and potentially tested on a generator at a Reclamation facility in a field-level demonstration.

Reclamation partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration, and Department of Energy on this prize competition.

To learn more about this and other prize competitions at Reclamation, please visit Reclamation's Water Prize Competition Center at

Published on August 30, 2019