Design of a Low Head Pico Hydro Turbine for Rural Electrification in Cameroon
Rural areas of Cameroon have limited to no availability of grid-supplied electricity, however many locations have significant hydro potential. Pico hydro (less than 5 kW generation capacity) has been identified as a promising means for rural electrification. Tests of previously implemented designs and field research in Cameroon were conducted to contextualize the design process. Field research involved end-user and artisan interviews, market research, site investigations, and artisan collaboration. Findings were used to select an axial flow propeller for the improved turbine. Detailed design used turbomachinery theory towards the development of a locally manufactured low head pico hydro turbine for rural electrification. A propeller turbine with complex blade geometries was designed but simplified to incorporate flat blade geometries to better suit the local manufacture capabilities. A prototype turbine was built and tested. The flat blade propeller turbine performed reasonably well, but was unable to achieve desired power generation targets with predefined head and flow rate conditions.