A historical survey of low-head hydropower generators and recent laboratory based work at the University of Salford
All life depends upon water. For man, however, water can supply the power necessary to relieve him from the drudgeries of life and give the time and means to enrich his existence beyond the bounds set by the mere need to survive. Large scale hydropower makes a significant contribution to the total generated power of the developed world. The means of harnessing water power for large flows and heads above three metres are efficient and well established. There remains however, the fact that many people, especially in developing countries live adjacent to water courses and tidal estuaries where heads of 2 metres or less exist but are not exploited. The reasons for this are often that practical machines do not exist or are insufficiently well developed to be used. Much effort has been made in recent years to develop equipment suitable for small, low-head sites in remote places. The writer has worked on three such devices in both the laboratory and on site - these are the Salford Transverse Oscillator, the AUR Water Engine and the Underwater Motor. This thesis describes these machines in detail together with other contemporary devices. The initial chapter contains an assessment of machines used in the past to exploit low head sites. There is little doubt that some of these older machines, suitably brought up to date in design and materials, would be more suited to the needs of developing peoples than many of the esoteric devices described in later chapters. The thesis is concerned mainly with the need to provide a means of generating power rather than the assessment or suitability of a site for power generation. The writer draws on experience gained in the laboratory, and as a Mechanical Engineering Consultant for small installations in the United Kingdom and overseas.