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Small water turbine for installation on sluices optimally protecting aquatic ecosystems (enabling passage of fish and bed load)

Country of Origin: Austria
Reference Number: TOAT20191113001
Publication Date: 13 November 2019


An Austrian SME developed a modular hydro power system which fully complies with the EU Water Framework Directive to protect ecology and biology of rivers. It is easily and quickly installed on (existing) sluices at low investment costs. The innovation lies in the vertical adjustment of the turbine together with the design of the blades. A prototype was successfully tested. A world patent (PCT) was applied for. The SME is looking for buyers of the patent worldwide except for Austria.


The current Water Framework Directive from the European Union (EU) stipulates, that running water (i.e. a river) has to be open (traversable) from the beginning to the end for fish, sediments and bed load (solid material such as stones, which is transported along with the running water). In addition, at weir systems (mainly for diversion power stations) a certain amount of residual water after the weir has to be guaranteed. As a consequence, approval of new water power plants will be extremely difficult in the future because most of the current systems are not able to fulfill all requirements of the directive. Existing diversion power plants will have to adapt their residual water flows.

The Austrian SME developed and successfully tested a system for a small water power plant, which fully complies with the EU directive. The system can be installed on an (existing) sluice (hydraulic gates) of a weir.

It mainly consists of a radial turbine which is arranged downstream of the weir on the sluice below an overflow ramp. In this way the turbine can be moved vertically together with the sluice to fulfill the specified residual water flow in times of low water and to adjust the surplus water flow in times of high water. This adjustable water flow drives the turbine for power generation.
In addition, the turbine is mounted so as to be vertically displaceable on the sluice. This enables fine adjustment of the position of the turbine to optimize its performance and the protection of fish. In times of floodwater the turbine can be moved upwards on the sluice to protect it from heavy bed load.

The shape and arrangement of the turbine blades have been optimized for the passage of fish. Tests of the prototype have confirmed that fish can pass without injuries.

In order to make use of the whole width of a weir, several modules of the system can be placed side by side on the weir.

Technical details of the prototype:
- width of module: 2.10 m
- height of module: 2.06 m
- output is depending on water level and residual flow and will be further developed and optimized
- designed for a residual water flow of 2000 l/sec

For this novel hydro power system a world patent (PCT) was applied for. The Austrian SME is looking for buyers of the patent for countries all over the world except for Austria.


Advantages and Innovations

The main innovative aspect of the system is the vertical adjustment of the turbine which is installed downstream of the weir directly on the sluice together with the design of the turbine blades for optimized fish protection.

The novel water power system:
- fully complies with the EU Water Framework Directive: it is able to protect and restore aquatic ecosystems
- is designed in a modular way and simply and quickly installed on (existing) sluices => low investment and maintenance costs => low priced power generation
- enables downstream passage of fish without injuries
- reduces bed deepening and bank collapsing downstream
- decreases deposition of sediments and bed load upstream; it helps to maintain the volume of the river bed, which is crucial in times of high water to avoid flooding
- is suitable for many rivers and river conditions

For existing diversion power plants, which will have to increase their residual water flows: the resulting loss of output can be compensated by installing the novel system on the weir.

Stage Of Development

Prototype available for demonstration

Stage Of Development Comment

A prototype of the novel small hydro power plant has been installed in a river of Upper Austria. Tests of this pilot plant have confirmed fish passability. Further tests will be performed to optimize power generation.

Requested partner

Specific area of activity of the partner:
- manufacturer of hydro turbines
- water power plant construction and/or operation companies
- steel construction for hydraulic engineering (manufacturer of weir panel, sluice, grate etc.)
- manufacturer of agricultural machinery or plant construction companies to build up a new business segment

Task to be performed by the partner:
the Austrian company is looking for buyers of the patent for countries all over the world except for Austria.
It is also planned to offer trainings about bed-loads and transportation of sediments to patent buyers.

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