There are 23,000 potential sites for Rentricity's hydrokinetic energy recovery systems in the U.S. alone
400 Billion gallons of water run through pipes each day. The moving water has to be slowed down with pressure reduction valves, creating friction and wasting energy
Given the availability of precise measurements for flow rates and pressure, in-pipe hydro is more predictable than wind or solar energy
Currently, 20 % of water flowing through pipes is lost to leakage. Rentricity's solution offers better leak detection for improved water quality and conservation
400 billion gallons of water run through pipes each day, half of which is used in energy generation primarily for cooling, a quarter of which is used in agriculture, another 50 billion gallons for personal use, and 50 billion gallons for industrial use. Most of this water is gravity-fed. The moving water gains speed and pressure and has to be slowed down with pressure reduction valves, creating friction and wasting energy.
Rentricity currently deploys two in-pipe hydro energy recovery systems, Flow-to-Wire and Sustainable Energy and Monitoring Systems (SEMS) to convert excess pressure in water pipes into clean electricity. These systems generally include a micro-turbine, generator, sensors, processors, electronic controls, and communications equipment. The electricity produced can either be sold to the electric grid or used behind the meter to offset water systems’ energy requirements, which account for 4 percent of electricity consumption in the U.S. (7 percent globally).
Given the availability of precise measurements for flow rates and pressure within water systems, in-pipe hydro provides a more predictable power supply than other renewables, like wind or solar energy. This consistent in-system electricity generation could provide power for distributed water treatment to increase water quality. It could also power sensors for better leak detection. About 20 percent of water flowing through pipes is lost to leakage, so having a way to detect leaks in more remote sections of water systems could make a significant difference in water conservation.
There are 23,000 potential sites for Rentricity’s hydrokinetic energy recovery systems in the U.S. alone, including industrial and wastewater treatment systems, mandated small dam releases, and water transfer stations, and a significant amount of water infrastructure is currently being built or repaired across the globe. Rentricity envisions a world where all water and wastewater pipes undergo an “energy recovery audit” to identify potential opportunities.
The central idea behind Rentricity’s technologies is to capture energy that’s being wasted and convert it into usable electricity. That, in and of itself, is a dMASS strategy. But Rentricity has greater potential to address multiple problems within a complex system.
First, Rentricity’s systems currently bypass water pressure reduction valves (PRVs). Eventually, the company may develop a “pressure reduction turbine” to both generate electricity and perform the function of a PRV, thereby replacing the need for two separate pieces of equipment. Already, the technologies rely primarily on pre-existing infrastructure. Second, Retricity’s technology provides an energy source closer to the end point of water systems, which could enable more effective, distributed water treatment, as well as power distributed sensors to detect leaks. Finally, Rentricity’s technology comes at an important time. America’s water infrastructure is in disrepair, with hundreds of billions of dollars going towards replacing and upgrading pipes and valves that were put in place up to one hundred years ago. Worldwide, new infrastructure is being built at a rapid pace. Placing an energy harvesting system within these new water systems now will provide a significant source of power and will build resiliency into the systems.
Rentricity was founded in 2003 and has received funding from state energy agencies in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island to test and develop its technologies. The company has installed systems in two water treatment plants in the Pittsburgh region and one in Keene, New Hampshire, and another four systems will come on line in 2013.