Portable Hydroelectric Generators

Navy SBIR 21.2 - Topic N212-102
MCSC - Marine Corps Systems Command
Opens: May 19, 2021 - Closes: June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt)

N212-102 TITLE: Portable Hydroelectric Generators

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements (GWR);Microelectronics

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Materials / Processes

OBJECTIVE: Develop a personnel-portable ruggedized hydroelectric generator that will provide power from hydrokinetic water sources and has the ability to be dropped in a stream or other area of moving water and provide a level of power needed to recharge a unitís batteries or meet other low-power requirements.

DESCRIPTION: There is a need within the DoD to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel power generation. Bulk fuel movement is expensive, presents a high safety risk to personnel, and will become less reliable in distributed operations. Renewable energy is one way to reduce costs, increase safety, and provide more reliable power. Unfortunately, renewable energy systems can be heavy, bulky, difficult to deploy, and have a significant footprint during transport and operation and high cost.

The intent of this SBIR topic is to develop a pico-hydro power (micro-hydropower) energy system that is personnel-portable, low volume during transport/operation, efficient, reliable, and cost-effective. The system will be capable of being transported on a vehicle to the hydro resource. It shall be offloaded, carried, and deployed by hand. Water flow and Multi-axes kinetic generation are potential solutions. This SBIR topic seeks innovative scientific and engineering solutions. Proposals should specifically describe the technology that will be applied to solve the problem, how it will be developed, what the estimated benefits will be and how it might be transitioned into the DoD.


System must meet Threshold requirements = (T)

It is highly desirable for the system to meet Objective requirements = (O)

The proposed system must address the following requirements, at a minimum:

  1. Capable of producing from 500 W (T) to 1500 W (O) (500W continuous, 5kW peak).
  2. Capable of producing 500W using a water flow that has a velocity of 0.5 m/sec (O) or 1 m/sec (T).
  3. Operable in rivers or streams with a minimum depth of 0.5 m (O) or 1 m (T).
  4. Capable of optimizing electrical power output for any range of water velocities and minimum depths (O).
  5. Capable of making use of input water velocity, kinetic energy, or pressure from any direction to generate required and additional electrical power. (O)
  6. Component weight of no more than 88 lbs (two-person portable).
  7. Total system transport volume/cube not to exceed 1 m3, which includes electrical cables, connectors, ropes/tethering/anchoring (if applicable).
  8. Ability to meet the requirements of the Marine Corps in all of its operating environments (MIL-STD 810).
  9. 24VDC output (MIL-STD-1275D, Ref 3).
  10. Operated with little or no human intervention.
  11. Capable of repair in the field with plug-and-play line replaceable units or parts produced by expeditionary advanced manufacturing (additive manufactured 3D printed / subtractive manufactured CNC milling or lathing parts).
  12. Capable of operation in fresh and brackish water.
  13. Able to withstand debris fouling without degrading performance.
  14. Capable of being quickly and easily interconnected to produce power in excess of the 500 Ė 1500 W range of an individual system. (See #1 above.)
  15. Able to be deployed and operational by 2 people, after reading quick card instructions, within 30 minutes (T), less than 5 minutes (O), starting from its transport configuration.
  16. Retrievable and ready for transport within 30 minutes (T), less than 5 minutes (O).

PHASE I: Develop concepts for an improved hydro-electric generator that meets the requirements described above. Demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs. Establish that the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling, as appropriate. Provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones, and that will address technical risk reduction.

PHASE II: Develop a scaled prototype for evaluation to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Marine Corps requirements for the hydro-electric generator. Demonstrate system performance through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Marine Corps requirements and develop hydro-electric generator for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Marine Corps use.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use. Support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use.

Commercial applications include recreational use, humanitarian aid/disaster relief, and "off-grid" home designs. The recreational industry has seen a significant increase in the last few years specifically with off grid application. This application is directly applicable to this market segment. This recreational market is seen as having the highest potential for commercialization and sales. Support for disaster relief and humanitarian aid are other applications. Additionally, there is application in developing countries and areas underserved by electrical power distribution.


  1. Beerman-Curtin, Sharon. "SBIR Topic N112-147: Person-Portable Micro-Hydropower System." Solicitation 11.2, 2012. https://www.navysbir.com/n11_2/N112-147.htm.
  2. "Marine energy - Wave, tidal and other water current converters - Part 300: Electricity producing river energy converters - Power performance assessment. IEC TS 62600-300:2019, 12 September 2019. https://standards.iteh.ai/catalog/standards/iec/8a96e94d-2e9a-4597-b14e-74749352eb54/iec-ts-62600-300-2019.
  3. "Marine energy - Wave, tidal and other water current converters - Part 301: River energy resource assessment." IEC TS 62600-301:2019, 12 September 2019. https://tc114.us/standards-development/purchase-iec-tc-114-documents/.
  4. Lambert, Brent. "Check Out the Incredible New Portable Air Conditioner & Underwater Turbine Powered River Current." FEELGuide, 9 September 2019. https://www.feelguide.com/2019/09/09/check-out-the-incredible-new-portable-air-conditioner-underwater-turbine-powered-by-river-current/.
  5. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. "WPTO Announces $4.4 Million for Phase I Small Business Innovation Projects." 21 May 2020. https://www.energy.gov/eere/water/articles/wpto-announces-44-million-phase-i-small-business-innovation-projects.
  6. Naval Sea Systems Command. "2019 Naval Power & Energy Systems Technology Development Roadmap: Energy Harvesting." https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Portals/103/Documents/2019_NPES_TDR_Distribution_A_Approved_Final.pdf?ver=2019-06-26-132556-223.
  7. "Underwater Turbines." Pioneer Valley Renewables, LLC. 13 July 2020 http://pioneervalleyrenewables.com/.

KEYWORDS: Hydropower; hydro-electricity; pico-hydro; portable; turbine; micro-hydro; renewable


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 21.2 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

The DoD issued its 21.2 SBIR BAA pre-release on April 21, which opens to receive proposals on May 19, 2021, and closes June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt).

Direct Contact with Topic Authors: During the pre-release period (April 21 thru May 18, 2021) proposing firms have an opportunity to directly contact the Technical Point of Contact (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the specific BAA topic. Once DoD begins accepting proposals on May 19, 2021 no further direct contact between proposers and topic authors is allowed unless the Topic Author is responding to a question submitted during the Pre-release period.

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