Stumptown Startups Blog

In-pipe turbines to generate electricity from drinking water for the first time

In-pipe turbines to generate electricity from drinking water for the first time »Play Video

The tap water you drink may soon help power the lights in your house.

Portland startup, Lucid Energy, is in the construction phase of a never-done-before project.

The company is installing a pipe and four turbines at Southeast 147th and Powell next week that will capture the energy produced when drinking water travels from Bull Run to your faucet.  A generator will then convert the energy into electricity, and that electricity will be sold to PGE.

“We’re able to produce electricity with no environmental impact,” Lucid Energy President and CEO Gregg Semler said.

The company has developed the technology over the last five years; the city of Portland agreed to the project in 2011 as long as it wouldn’t cost taxpayers any money.

Lucid Energy and its investors are footing the bill and will share a small percentage of revenue.

“Relatively small cost savings on this first project, but as we do multiple projects over the next few years, people will see an impact,” Semler said.

Portland’s Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff said the city will pass on any savings to water customers, but he doesn’t expect enough for customers to notice.

“It’s more of a demonstration,” Shaff said.  “If you had a lot of these throughout the country, you might be able to generate a lot of electricity, but for Portland, overall, it’s a pretty small amount.” 

Still, Shaff says he’s excited about the technology and the project’s potential.  “It will be interesting to see how it will play out.”

You can see a turbine prototype in the video above from my report on KATU News, and you can also check out my original blog post on the company.