Tunnel vision

Date:29 September 2012 Tags:, , ,

Water flows from as far as 200 km away to reach New York City from upstate reservoirs, but it needs virtually no pumping because the pipes run downhill the whole way. In fact, New York’s and many other urban water systems deploy pressure-reducing valves to dissipate excess pressure before the water reaches the taps of consumers. A startup called Rentricity proposes adding small turbines near those valves to generate electricity; a plan currently being studied by New York City. Rentricity turbines at a gravity-fed water treatment plant in Keene, New Hampshire, now generate 62 kilowatts, enough to run the entire plant. New York may be a tougher sell, because real estate – aboveground and belowground – is highly congested. The feasibility report is due by the end of 2013. – AH

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