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The exploitation of low-head hydropower by pressure interchange with air, using siphons.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2001
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A: Journal of Power and Energy
Number of pages8
Original languageEnglish


The paper describes and analyses a hydropower system based on siphons in which the pressure of low-head water is converted into air pressure. The analysis suggests that, with careful design of the flow passages to minimize losses, air-pumping efficiencies of 70 per cent or more should be achievable; the overall efficiency of the hydropower system should be better than 60 per cent. Although such values of efficiency are lower than usually found in hydro plant, the economics of the system are likely to be attractive owing to the low capital cost of the system compared with conventional water turbine systems. It is shown that a siphon plant is suitable, in single-stage from, for heads up to about 1.7m. For higher heads the system can be used in two or more stages.