City pipes generate energy from tap water

One of the main pipelines in the city of Portland, Oregan uses pipes that harvest energy as water flows through them. Unlike hydropower, the technology reportedly has no environmental impact.

According to an article on FastCo.Exist, small turbines in the pipes spin as the water flows through them. The energy is then sent into a generator to create electricity. Designed by Lucid Energy, the energy harvested from the pipes in Portland is sent into the city’s grid. While it’s not enough to power the entire city, the pipe’s can still power individual buildings or help to offset the city’s total energy bill.

The system can make it cheaper for cities to provide clean drinking water or power streetlights at night. And unlike wind or solar energy, it can operate regardless of the weather or time of day, explains the article. The pipes even contain sensors that can monitor pressure – an indicator for whether a pipe is leaking or not – and water quality.

The biggest drawback is that the pipes only work in locations where the water naturally flows downward with gravity; to use water pumps would cancel out any energy gains made. Nonetheless, Lucid hopes to install the new systems in cities around the world as old pipes wear out and perhaps even expand to developing countries, particularly in rural regions that require a form of remote power.


Photo credit: Lucid Energy via

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