what's new

Natel continues to make good progress on fatigue testing of all the major wearing components with new test rigs coming online in the last month.  The total system performance testing in the hydraulic test facility with the “SLHmini” reached a milestone with an updated version coming online.  


On the commercial front, Natel has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Trade Development Agency to develop two pilot projects and screen sites totaling up to 100 MW in Chile.  In July, Natel exhibited at Hydrovision in Denver and served on a panel at a meeting held by the Advanced Energy Economy in Sacramento.


In the next quarter, Natel will build out manufacturing capability through contract assembly relationships and nearby leased floor space.  This near-term strategy provides flexibility and control over the assembly manufacturing process.

01 project focus

Monroe Drop project status update

Engineering and logistical preparations are underway for the installation of the SLH100 at Natel’s Monroe Hydro Project in early 2014. Here, Mechanical Engineering Technician Andrew Damele tests and calibrates the 10-ton spreader bar that will be used in the powerhouse for SLH100 installation and ongoing maintenance.

02 product development

Full blade fatigue testers

Under the program to test fatigue and load capabilities of all major wearing components, Natel has designed custom test rigs and then run them through high loads and tens of millions of cycles to verify life or uncover problems.  At right, one of the blade fatigue testers for the carbon fiber blades is shown.


Senior Engineer Erick Davidson fits a component for the bearing assembly to be tested in another test rig of his design.
Machinist Peder Aune machines springs for the bearing assembly.

Seal testing

The SLH100 design makes water containment more straightforward. Nonetheless, parts such as the bearings need to be protected from water intrusion. Here, Andrew Damele assembles the rig for testing performance of the selected commercial seals.
SLHmini make 2

Natel verifies the performance of the 500 kW SLH100 by testing a 6.4:1 scale version, affectionately referred to as the “SLHmini”, in a fully instrumented hydraulic test facility located at headquarters in Alameda.  The first release of the SLHmini featured in earlier newsletters and verified simple power curve parameters.  The second release of the SLHmini, shown at right, incorporates much of the functionality in the commercial SLH100.

Testing results show excellent correlation between the expected performance based on CFD models, and measured efficiency. Taking measurements in the controlled environment of the hydraulic test facility is crucial as field conditions often make accurate measurements difficult or impossible.

Cassette mockup

President/CTO Abe Schneider and Alex Conn work on a full-scale mockup of the SLH100 cassette to test and verify assembly procedures.  Here, the process of installing the belts is being examined.

03 business development

Natel won a grant from USTDA

Following on successful participation in a Renewable Energy Trade Mission to Chile sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce in April, Natel developed a strong partnership with a local developer and two major utilities in Chile. In August, Natel and its development partner won a grant from the USTDA to develop two pilot projects and screen a 100 MW portfolio for subsequent construction in Chile. Work commences on this effort in late Q3 2013.

04 media & outreach

Natel at Hydrovision

Natel hosted a booth at the annual Hydrovision conference in July, held this year in Denver.  Interest in low head hydro, particularly as a way to scale hydro with a reduced impact footprint, continues to increase at these conferences.  

In August Natel’s CEO, Gia Schneider spoke on a panel at the “Pathway to 2050: Achieving California’s Advanced Energy Goals” held by the Advanced Energy Economy in Sacramento, highlighting the significant potential for distributed hydro in a low-carbon energy future.


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