Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco: Empowering rural communities Exhibit

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The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates design — the process of taking a great idea and turning it into a reality. ``With about 60 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering. Autodesk Gallery Ambassadors conduct gallery tours as a sideline to their day jobs. The tours provide employees with opportunities to practice public speaking in front of small groups.

With regard to the Empowering rural communities exhibit:


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Approximately 1.2 billion people around the world — many in rural areas — are living without electricity. That's 17% of the global population who lack a basic, reliable source of power for things like lighting, heating, and cooking. But one company is working to bring clean energy to remote parts of the world by plugging into natural resources.

German-based Smart Hydro Power has developed micro-hydro power plants that produce electricity using power generated from the natural flow of water. The system consists of a gearless turbine designed to sit in a river or canal and features debris protectors and a patented anchoring system.

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The plants don't require the development of new infrastructures (such as dams) or additional power supply (such as a diesel generator) and don't interrupt the flow of water, so they're also economically and environmentally conscious (environment is not polluted with carbon dioxide emissions).

Smart Hydro Power is part of the Autodesk Entrepreneur Impact Program. This program supports clean technology innovators with design and engineering software to help accelerate their development of solutions to environmental challenges. What makes Smart Hydro Power unique is that their micro-hydro power plants use kinetic energy from water to produce electrical energy and are constructed so that they don't require any maintenance and can be operated by laymen.

Smart Hydro's design team pushed the boundaries of how traditional turbines look and function to create three new versions that are appropriate for different conditions around the world.

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Using 3D design and simulation software, Smart Hydro Power created a digital prototype of its micro-hydro power plant and viewed how the different components of the turbine interacted before proceeding to construction. This gave them the opportunity to fix any design flaws and also enabled the small team of eight to bring its product to market faster. Early tests were not without problems, as the team found rising water levels could wash away the turbine, but Smart Hydro Power used the experience and digital design tools to improve subsequent versions.

The turbine consists of a three-bladed rotor, a five-kilowatt generator, a float, and a three-part diffuser that protects the generator and increases water velocity as water passes through.

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Smart Hydro Power used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software to run performance analysis — examining, for example, how water moves in and around the turbine and how it interacts with different materials — before installation.

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Learning from the simulation minimized costly mistakes and helped ensure a smooth installation process.

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The micro-hydro power plant only weighs 360 kilograms (794 pounds) total and can be easily transported.

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It can even be carried by eight people.

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The first system was installed in Peru in 2011, but today, Smart Hydro Power turbines can be found in 40 locations around the world such as other sites in South America, Indonesia, India, Italy, Nigeria, and Germany. The micro-hydro power plant developed by Karl Kolmsee and his team is particularly attractive to those regions that are located far from populated centers and extended power networks.

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Thanks to the Autodesk Gallery team for the descriptive text for this blog post.

The Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and a self-guided audio tour available anytime. Admission is free. Visit us.

Electricity is alive in the lab.