Army Corps of Engineers introduce new advanced turbine at Ice Ha - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Army Corps of Engineers introduce new advanced turbine at Ice Harbor Dam

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For most of these engineers it also happened to be the first time they have seen their creation to full scale. For most of these engineers it also happened to be the first time they have seen their creation to full scale.

WALLA WALLA COUNTY, WA- Every now and then you hear about projects across our region making national headlines. Well, it is happening once again. This time, in the hydro-electric world.

The Army Corps of Engineers unveiled a brand new turbine at Ice Harbor Dam, that's been years in the making. It will be replacing equipment that is over five decades old, "Hydropower energy is the largest single renewable energy source in the United States. It is green, non-carbon emitting and sustainable," said Steve Miles, the Director of the Hydroelectric Design Center.

The $58 million dollar project funded by the BPA is a first for these engineers who have been working for years on its design. "We designed the next generation turbine, one that is safer for fish and one that we expect to improve hydropower efficiencies," explained Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Vail, Commander for the Walla Walla District.

The new advanced technology turbine is a stainless steel monster at 150 tons and it is 12 feet tall. It will replace some adjustable blade runners, making it safer for fish to pass through, "There's a lot of welding and grinding and coating that goes into the installation," Kevin Crum explained. Crum is the Project Manager for the Walla Walla District.

"You have to take all the generating parts out, the rotar, we have a lot of electrical work that we are going with that. Essentially we are bringing everything up to date," said Crum.

This specific design changes the way the blades strike the water and how much pressure is funneled through, "We are building a ceiling component here, this is designed to help improve the flow conditions as water flows and exits the turbine unit itself," Crum explained.

Early testing already shows the new turbine may also increase power generation by 3 to 4 percent. "The turbine will just simply be dropped into place and then you just work your way up. It is about an 14 month process from beginning to end," Crum described.

This is a major group effort, the Army Corps of Engineers, Voith Hydro, Bonneville Power, and NOAA fisheries brainstormed and carried out the project.

For most of these engineers it also happened to be the first time they have seen their creation to full scale.

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