team photo

Team 33

Team Members

Faculty Advisor

Daniel Piro
Christopher Rinaldi
Huy Nguyen
Ryan Bottass

Tianfeng Lu



sponsored by
Don Vaccaro

Lake Mark – Economical Hydropower Generation for Small Dams

The goal of this senior design project was to design a hydroelectric power generation system that maximizes power output for a low flow dam. The central challenge of this project was figuring out how to effectively utilize the small flow present at the dam while maximizing efficiency and minimizing cost. An efficient hydropower system requires a higher flow than what is present at the dam; however, the water level in the lake must also be maintained and not permanently drained. To do this, two systems were designed, prototyped, and tested, that utilize different aspects of the lake in order to maximize energy production while also controlling the water level. These systems are a pump-actuated siphon, that uses water level sensors and a pump to start and stop a siphon which runs the turbine, and a self-starting siphon, which uses the drainage pipe present at the lake and a specialized inlet configuration to self-start and stop the water siphon which runs the turbine. Both systems achieve the same goal of managing the water level in the lake during dry months with low flow while also capitalizing on high flow events such as heavy rain, storms, and floods. Using flow data, dam and system dimensions, and turbine information, it was determined that an average of 3000 kWh of energy can be produced annually from the lake. Energy production is highly dependent upon rainfall conditions, where energy production is proportional to flow rate through the turbine. Analysis conducted on the prototype provided a scaling factor to understand how the systems can be scaled and implemented at Lake Mark. Further analysis also gave insight into key aspects of the design such as the effects pipe length, pipe diameter, and head loss.

Our team collaborated with Electrical and Computer Engineering 12 on this project.