Municipal Water Leader
Interview

How NuSTREEM’s Small Hydro Units Can Save Municipal Water Agencies Money

NuSTREEM is an innovative small-hydropower-unit manufacturer based in Connecticut. Its low-head NuTURBINE can be inserted into existing municipal water systems to harvest the energy latent in the water flowing through a facility and convert it into electricity. In this interview, Kathy Bielert, NuSTREEM’s technical sales manager, tells Municipal Water Leader about the idea behind the company’s technology and why it should be of interest to all municipal water managers. 

Municipal Water Leader: Please tell our readers about NuSTREEM, its history, and its turbine products. 

Kathy Bielert: NuSTREEM is an innovative manufacturer of small hydroturbine equipment. We started designing a modular and intelligent hydroturbine over a decade ago. In 2014, NuSTREEM completed two projects: one 500‑kilowatt (kW) installation in Connecticut consisting of five 100 kW units and a 100 kW installation in Massachusetts. Both sites have been successfully running ever since. 

Our equipment is designed to rapidly build a hydropower site that is economically feasible based on average energy prices. Our NuTURBINE is a low-head Kaplan turbine that operates with 8–40 feet of head. It is made in America and is loaded with proven, modern features to automate operation. This is a contemporary dual-regulated Kaplan design with electronically controlled, motor-drive-actuated wicket gates and runner blades. Although the NuTURBINE is based on the tried-and-true Kaplan-style turbine, NuSTREEM has a patented design variant that can take full advantage of current electronics technology and intelligent control capabilities. Our patented NuTECH controller ensures optimal hydropower system output by maximizing efficiency, regardless of the hydraulic or machine conditions. Last but not least, our NuCONTAINER uses an industry-standard shipping container modified to house a NuTURBINE and controls. The turbines arrive on site inside their permanent housing, ready for installation. The NuCONTAINER allows users to bypass many of the costly and time-consuming geotechnical and civil efforts that traditional hydropower sites require. 

A NuTURBINE being transported.

NuSTREEM’s products are based on technological evolutions that significantly improve the performance of a long-accepted hydropower turbine paradigm. Those changes eliminate the need for a dam, offer a decentralized generation capability and the ability to harvest energy from existing hydropower intensive systems, and reduce environmental effects, all with a low setup and procurement cost. The hydropower community has recognized that the future of hydropower lies with modular, intelligent small hydropower equipment that protects and even improves our environment. NuSTREEM saw this need coming over a decade ago. Today, we can quickly deliver modular, intelligent equipment that has been proving its reliability for over 6 years. 

Another part of NuSTREEM’s strategy to become experts in the hydro industry is to take advantage of membership opportunities with different organizations and groups. We’ve been part of the National Hydropower Association for 3 years and have received invaluable help and connections through its programs. 

Municipal Water Leader: What was the inspiration behind your in-pipe turbine design? 

Kathy Bielert: Harvesting energy from water that is being piped to another location is a sustainable, green energy source that helps reduce a user’s carbon footprint. With the right conditions, our standard NuTURBINE can be used to produce energy from this underused source, helping to offset the costs of a plant. 

Municipal Water Leader: What diameter of pipe is your turbine designed for? 

Kathy Bielert: NuSTREEM’s standard NuTURBINE inlet is 48 inches. Pipes over 24 inches in diameter that can be increased or reduced to 48 inches can also be used. 

Municipal Water Leader: What are the flow range requirements for your turbine design, and what is its likely energy output? 

Kathy Bielert: The optimal flow range of the NuTURBINE is 40–100 cubic feet per second. Our turbines’ generators range from 75 to 250 kW in capacity. These turbines work with an available head of 8–40 feet. 

Municipal Water Leader: How easy is maintenance on your turbines? Can they be accessed, worked on, and removed easily? 

Kathy Bielert: With proper valving, the turbine can easily be removed for maintenance. The turbine is small enough to put on a truck. The NuTURBINE is standardized, so common parts are available. If the flow cannot be interrupted, a bypass loop can be added to allow the water to flow while the turbine is being serviced. 

Municipal Water Leader: What is your message to municipal water managers about your turbine design’s ability to help them recapture expenses? 

Kathy Bielert: NuSTREEM’s NuTURBINE can be added to an existing system to harvest the energy that is currently lost when water flows through your facility, recapturing the energy as electricity and using it to run your plant. 

Municipal Water Leader: How do you deal with risk in municipality capital equipment asset management? 

Kathy Bielert: NuSTREEM offers products with proven, reliable technology. As experts in the small hydro industry, our team has spent lots of time developing, testing, and manufacturing these machines. NuSTREEM’s products were conceived and originally designed by an extraordinarily successful team of machine designers from the aerospace industry. With a background in designing machines that must work without fail and with super-high efficiency, they brought the ultramodern technology of the aerospace world to hydro equipment design. The NuTURBINE has been designed with an increased focus on longevity and ease of maintenance. The ongoing maintenance costs are minimal, while the access and ease of operation provide an unusually easy-to-manage usage life. Our equipment is modular and exceptional in its ability to integrate into your hydro site system with ease. 

Municipal Water Leader: If our readers have more questions, how should they contact you? 

Kathy Bielert: They should e-mail me directly at kathy.bielert@nustreem.com or call me at (860) 324‑8262. 

Kathy Bielert is the technical sales manager at NuSTREEM. For more information about NuSTREEM, visit nustreem.com.