Archimedes Screw Turbines: A Sustainable Development Solution for Green and Renewable Energy Generation—A Review of Potential and Design Procedures
1.1. Sustainable Development
1.2. Renewable Energy
1.4. Archimedes Screws
1.4.1. Archimedes Screw Pump
1.4.2. Archimedes Screw Turbine
2. Advantages of Archimedes Screw Generators
2.1. Technical Advantages
2.2. Economic Aspects of ASTs
2.2.1. Capital Costs
2.2.2. Operational and Maintenance Costs
2.3. Environmental and Social Advantages
Wildlife and Social Advantages
3. Disadvantages of Archimedes Screw Generators
3.1. A Relatively New Technology
3.2. Insufficient General Design Guideline
3.3. Technical Limitations
4. ASTs: A Conceptual Approach
4.1. Site Considerations
- Allowing hydroelectricity generation in regions where construction of large dams is not reasonable or feasible. For example, in relatively smooth plains where suitable conditions do not exist to support the construction of large dams.
- Maximizing the hydroelectricity generation even in regions where a large dam exists by extracting energy alongside the river downstream.
- Reducing the electricity power loss alongside the distribution network by generating power near where it is required and consumed, which could reduce the length and cost of the distribution network (such as illustrated in Figure 7b).
- Generating baseload power with small hydropower plants. Currently, in many locations, the majority of electricity baseload is mainly generated by fossil fuel and nuclear powerplants and hydropower is used to meet peak demands. However, the proposed theoretical chain of ROR powerplants could generate baseload since most of the ROR plants do not store water.
4.2. Reducing Erosion and Disturbance of Natural Sedimentation Processes
4.3. Power Generation from Unconventional Water Resources
4.4. Conservation and Improvement of Resources
4.5. AST Plant Configurations
4.6. Future Sustainability
5. Design Archimedes Screw Hydro Powerplants Principles
5.1. Archimedes Screw Hydro Powerplants Design Assessments
- Estimate the required power as well as predict the possible future changes in demand.
- Determine whether the powerplant will be connected to the grid or will be off-grid.
- If the AST powerplant is designed to be off-grid, it would be important to:
- Consider the comparison of the value of reliable baseload power versus maximizing the annual production of the powerplant in making decisions for the design.
- Define and consider the needed voltages and/or currents.
- Permitting requirements, restrictions on access or water use should be determined.
- The flow duration curve of the river should be used to determine the baseload and other options for the operation of the powerplant. This information also helps to make decisions in the plant design step.
- Ecological assessments should be done, and the water needs of other users or ecological functions should be determined. For example, the required flow for fish passage or installing a fish ladder should be determined.
- The potential plant location should be selected based on the following considerations:
- Accessibility for construction, operation, and maintenance. This is important for civil works and installation of the screw, especially for larger powerplants that have big and bulky screw(s) that need cranes for installation
- Geotechnical concerns, particularly stability and suitability for plant foundations
- Supply channel and outlet channel routing
- Conflicts with other site use considerations.
- For steady flow, a single-speed plant could be considered as a simpler and more efficient option. On average, the cost per watt of these systems is less than the variable-speed ones. Even if the available flow is not sufficient to fill the screw at its operating speed, fixed speed screws can still generate power in a partially full condition .
- For large surplus flow, variable-speed screws could be recommended to generate partial power at low flow times. It would be particularly important if the powerplant will be off-grid, or other power sources (like diesel generators) are not available or are expensive. Generally, variable-speed screws are recommended when there is an excess flow that could be used to generate more power from an available flow of when the flow varies. The main reason is that although operating ASTs at the full capacity may be the most mechanically efficient operating condition, it will not definitely lead to the highest overall energy generation. Therefore, it may not be the most economically efficient operating condition .
- A sluice gate to control flow to the plant, and trash racks to prevent large debris from entering the plant, must be planned upstream of the screw. Ease of trash rack cleaning is important.
- Provision to dry out the top and bottom of the screw for bearing inspection, maintenance should be included in the plant design. The sluice gate should be able to shut off all flow. At the outlet, build vertical grooves to hold stop logs to allow drying out of the screw outlet.
- Be sure to plan for flooding water levels, and be sure to protect electrical components from water damage. This could be done by elevating the generator, sealing the powerhouse, and/or putting control equipment on the bank at a higher level.
5.2. Design of Archimedes Screws
- Di: Inner diameter
- DO: Outer diameter
- L: Total length of the screw
- β: Inclination Angle of the Screw
- N: Number of helical planed surfaces
- S: Screw pitch (Distance along the screw axis for one complete helical plane turn)
- f: Fill Height of the bucket 
- Gw: The gap between the trough and screw
- hu: Upper (inlet) water level
- hL: Lower (outlet) water level
5.3. Estimating the Generated Power of the Archimedes Screws
5.3.1. Bucket Volume Theory
5.3.2. Flow Rate and Leakage Models
5.3.3. Torque and Power Models
5.4. Archimedes Screw Power Loss Models
- Inlet losses due to head loss through the screw entrance
- Internal hydraulic friction between water and moving screw surfaces
- Outlet losses due to exit effects, geometric head losses, and additional drag torque
- Friction of bearings
- Additional mechanical and electrical losses in gearboxes, generators, and electrical controls
- To increase the number of suitable sites for power generation even in sites with very low flow rates and/or water head. ASTs can be designed to operate in a wide range of flow rates (currently from 0.01–10 m3/s) and water heads (currently from 0.1–10 m), including at sites where other types of turbines may not be feasible. This increases the number of potentially suitable sites for hydropower.
- To maximize hydropower generation even in rivers with high flow rate fluctuations. ASTs can handle flow rates even of up to 20% more than optimal filling without a significant loss in efficiency . Even when the conditions are not perfect for a single screw, installing more than one screw, and utilizing variable-speed ASTs, allows developers to fully utilize available flow at a wider range of sites, including those with high seasonal variability.
- To retrofit old dams or upgrade current dams or mills to make them economically (power generation) and environmentally (renewable energy) reasonable. Using ASTs as an upgrade for retrofitting old dams or upgrading operational dams makes it possible to add electrical generation with extremely low incremental environmental impact, at reasonable costs and with good potential for low social impacts while providing an incentive to maintain aging dams and infrastructure. ASTs utilized in this manner could help to reduce fossil fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions by displacing electricity generated by more polluting methods.
- To reduce the hydroelectricity major operational and/or maintenance costs: In addition to retrofit/upgrade current dams advantages, at appropriate sites, the capital costs of AST hydropower can be less than other hydropower technologies. The overall maintenance demands and costs of ASTs are often lower than other turbines. Major maintenance is required after the 20 to 30 years.
- To reduce the disturbance of natural erosion and sedimentation processes which could lead to soil and land conservation.
- To make hydropower generation safer for aquatic wildlife, especially for fish.
- To generate electricity for small communities or regions that are hard to access or connect to the power grid, especially because of the low operation and maintenance demands and costs of ASTs. These characteristics make ASTs a potential candidate for providing electrical power in undeveloped, remote regions, and small communities that currently lack energy infrastructure.
- To improve the welfare of the developing countries and regions with limited access to the power grid or other infrastructures. Despite many other technologies, ASTs do not require high manufacturing capabilities and hi-tech technologies to design, implement, operate, or maintain. Simplicity, low operational demands, and moderate costs make ASTs a practical environment-friendly and sustainable solution for supplying energy, especially in developing countries. At remote locations with a low head water supply, ASTs may provide a possible means of providing electricity that would otherwise be impractical in developing communities. Improving the economy and welfare of such communities is a win-win futuristic sustainable development approach that could be facilitated by using AST hydroelectric plants.
Conflicts of Interest
|Effective cross-sectional water area at the screw’s inlet||(m2)|
|Maximum cross-sectional water area at the screw’s inlet||(m2)|
|Coefficient of dimensionless flow rate||(-)|
|Coefficient of dimensionless area constant||(-)|
|Coefficient of dimensionless rotation speed constant||(-)|
|The inner diameter of the Archimedes screw||(m)|
|The outer diameter of the Archimedes screw||(m)|
|Fill height of water in a bucket of screw||(-)|
|Gravitational constant||(9.81 m/s2)|
|Upper (inlet) water level of the screw||(m)|
|Lower (outlet) water level of the screw||(m)|
|Gap width (The gap between the trough and screw)||(m)|
|The total length of the screw||(m)|
|The wetted gap length along with a single turn of one flight that is submerged on one side and exposed to air on the other||(m)|
|The wetted gap length along with a single turn of one flight that is submerged on both sides||(m)|
|Number of helical planed surfaces||(-)|
|The hydrostatic pressure at any point on the plane surfaces at a depth z below the water level||(Pa)|
|Output power/shaft power of screw||(W)|
|Total flow rate passing through the screw||(m3/s)|
|Gap leakage flow||(m3/s)|
|The main flow that is contained with the buckets and causes torque generation||(m3/s)|
|The maximum flow rate that could pass through a screw when and||(m3/s)|
|Overfilling flow leakage||(m3/s)|
|No guiding plate leakage||(m3/s)|
|Pitch of the screw (Distance along the screw axis for one complete helical plane turn)||(m)|
|The torque of a single bucket||(Nm)|
|V||The overall volume of a bucket||(m3)|
|Axial transport velocity||(m/s)|
|Total torque of the entire screw||(Nm)|
|The location along screw centerline||(m)|
|Minimum bucket water depth of the screw||(m)|
|Maximum bucket depth of screw without overflowing||(m)|
|The actual water depth within the bucket||(m)|
|, ,||Wetted angles around the gap||(rad)|
|The inclination angle of the screw||(rad)|
|The head difference||(m)|
|Coefficient of the loss|
|Contraction discharge coefficient|
|Density of water||(1000 kg/m3)|
|ω||The rotation speed of the screw||(rad/s)|
|The maximum rotation speed of the screw (Muysken limit)||(rad/s)|
|Water surface level|
|Surface 1 (downstream side of bucket)|
|Surface 2 (upstream side of bucket)|
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|Type||Turbine||Head (m)||Flow Rate (m3/s)||Notes|
|Impulse||Pelton ||50 *–1000 ||<50|
|A high-pressure jet of water is directed at bucket-shaped blades and nearly all of the flow energy to be converted to rotational mechanical energy .|
|Turgo ||50 **–250 ||<10|
|A modification of a Pelton that incoming water jet is directed at an angle of 20 degrees to the buckets. A larger jet stream of water relative to the turbine diameter for the same flow and head produces more power or can be constructed smaller .|
|Reaction||Francis ||40–600 ||0.2–1000|
|Flow enters the turbine radially then is redirected in a direction along the axial length of the turbine. The pressure difference across the blades is accomplished by changing flow direction and can be 90% to 95% efficient . Efficiency reduces dramatically in flow rates below 75% of the design flow |
|Flowing water pushing past the propeller blades creates a pressure difference . Best suited for headsless than impulse and Francis turbines for the same flow, and for flow rates higher than Francis and Pelton turbines for the same head. The propeller angle can vary to optimize energy extraction.|
|Quasi-static Pressure||Water wheel ||<10||<5||Vertical axis Water Wheels rotate due to the force exerted to the paddles by the momentum of the flow. Horizontal axis Water Wheels rotate because of the momentum of the water, as well as the weight of water on the small water buckets formed between the paddles. So, they are a bit more efficient than conventional horizontal ones . The efficiency of well-constructed WWs is 50%–70% . The hydraulic efficiency of Vertical Water Wheels is reported up to 85% .|
|Archimedes Screw||<10 |
|Efficiency range between 60% and 80% and remains high even as available head approaches zero. Produce up to 355 kW  of power . Practical even in combined low head and low flow|
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YoosefDoost, A.; Lubitz, W.D. Archimedes Screw Turbines: A Sustainable Development Solution for Green and Renewable Energy Generation—A Review of Potential and Design Procedures. Sustainability 2020, 12, 7352. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187352
YoosefDoost A, Lubitz WD. Archimedes Screw Turbines: A Sustainable Development Solution for Green and Renewable Energy Generation—A Review of Potential and Design Procedures. Sustainability. 2020; 12(18):7352. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187352Chicago/Turabian Style
YoosefDoost, Arash, and William David Lubitz. 2020. "Archimedes Screw Turbines: A Sustainable Development Solution for Green and Renewable Energy Generation—A Review of Potential and Design Procedures" Sustainability 12, no. 18: 7352. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187352