Free Flow Power Demonstrates New Hydropower Technology in Mississippi River

Free Flow Power Corporation, the startup attempting to develop hydrokinetic turbines for use in the  Mississippi River, announced that it has been successfully operating its first full-scale hydrokinetic turbine generator in the River since June 20, 2011.  FFP has raised over $5.6 million from 31 private investors, plus a significant amount of public money, including a $1.4 Million Advanced Water Power grant from the US Department of Energy.

In February and November of last year, the company tested its turbine in a controlled flow at the US Geological Survey’s Conte Anadromous Fish Laboratory at Turner Falls, Massachusetts. The current hydrokinetic deployment represents the first time the equipment has generated electricity in the Mississippi River.

The turbine is installed on a research surface platform that includes instrumentation to allow the Free Flow Power research team to monitor key performance metrics like stream velocity, electrical current and voltage to evaluate the turbine’s performance.  The Dow Chemical Company is supporting Free Flow Power’s efforts by hosting the floating demonstration installation at the company’s dock along the Mississippi River.

After several weeks and many hours of continuous generation, Dr. Ed Lovelace, Chief Technology Officer for the company, expressed satisfaction with the results. “Performance to date has been consistent with our design predictions, which makes it very competitive with published data on similar devices being developed around the world,” said Dr. Lovelace. “The equipment is handling the Mississippi River conditions without power interruptions or degradation,” he added.

“It’s pretty clear that river hydrokinetics provides a steady, continuous, and predictable renewable energy source. These attributes, combined with limited land use, no fuel requirements, and proximity to grid infrastructure and maintenance access make river hydrokinetics a unique value proposition in the renewable energy market,” said Lovelace.

Free Flow Power is pursuing approvals from State and Federal regulators led by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to install arrays of its hydrokinetic turbines at various locations in the Mississippi River that would provide enough power to represent a viable alternative to conventional power plants.

Tulane University is also working on their Riversphere project on the river, which would serve as a cleantech incubator for hydrokinetic research and other similar technologies.