Artículo Científico / Scientific Paper 



https://doi.org/10.17163/ings.n29.2023.09 


pISSN: 1390650X / eISSN: 1390860X 

DESIGN OF A MICROHYDRAULIC GENERATION SYSTEM BASED
ON AN ARCHIMEDES SCREW 

DIEÑO DE UN SISTEMA DE GENERACIÓN MICROHIDRÁULICA BASADO EN UN TORNILLO DE ARQUÍMEDES 
Received: 20102022, Received after review:
08122022, Accepted: 14122022, Published: 01012023 
Abstract 
Resumen 
In this work, it is applied the principle of
hydroelectric generation which is used on a large scale in Ecuador. The
system built represents a didactic laboratory tool for teaching courses on
renewable energies. The objective of this article is to construct a didactic
hydraulic micro generator, that enables to take
advantage of the kinetic energy of water to produce electrical power. In
addition, to have such system available in an educational institution becomes
an aid to teach concepts of renewable energies such as microhydraulics,
and promote its applications in rural areas through projects related to the
society. Important design aspects such as power generation, use of the
Archimedes screw model, supply of water resources, cost of materials,
installation of the generator, among others, have been
considered. This proposal offers a lowcost educational solution that
is easy to replicate, which generates a maximum power of 8(W) with a flow
rate of 10(l/s), thus being able to fulfill a particular electric power
demand, mainly for lighting. Through a model validated in the laboratory by
means of the removable system that must be used in a
real environment, tests were carried out using a water storage tank and a
pump. The results enable to conclude that the system built takes advantage of
a reduced water flow rate to produce clean and renewable energy. 
En este trabajo se aplica el principio de generación hidroeléctrica, utilizado a gran escala en nuestro país. El sistema construido representa una herramienta didáctica de laboratorio en los cursos de docencia sobre energías renovables. El objetivo de este artículo es la construcción de un microgenerador hidráulico de carácter didáctico que permita aprovechar la energía cinética del agua para la producción de energía eléctrica. Además, disponer dicho sistema en una institución educativa ayuda a enseñar conceptos de energías renovables como la microhidráulica y potenciar sus aplicaciones en zonas rurales a través de proyectos de vinculación con la sociedad. Se han considerado aspectos de diseño importantes como potencia de generación, uso del modelo tornillo de Arquímedes, suministro del recurso hídrico, costo de materiales para la elaboración, instalación del generador, entre otros. Esta propuesta ofrece una solución didáctica de bajo costo fácil de reproducir, que genera una potencia máxima de 8 (W) con un caudal de 10 (l/s), lo que permite abastecer una determinada demanda eléctrica, principalmente de iluminación. A través de un modelo validado en laboratorio gracias al sistema desmontable que posee para ser utilizado en un entorno real, se realizaron pruebas, utilizando un tanque de almacenamiento de agua y una bomba. Con estos resultados se concluye que el sistema construido aprovecha un caudal de agua reducido para producir energía limpia y renovable. 
Keywords: flow, renewables energies,
microgeneration, microhydraulic, Archimedes screw 
Palabras clave: caudal, energíes renovables, microgeneración, microhidráulica, tornillo de Arquímedes 
^{1,*}Escuela de Formación de Tecnólogos, Escuela Politécnica Nacional,
Ecuador. Corresponding author ✉: alan.cuenca@epn.edu.ec. Suggested citation: Cuenca Sánchez, A.; Farinango Galeano, W. and
Murillo Zambrano, J. “Design of a microhydraulic generation system based on
an Archimedes screw,” Ingenius, Revista de Ciencia y Tecnología, N.◦ 29, pp. 98107, 2023, doi: https://doi.org/10.17163/ings.n29.2023.09. 
1. Introduction The development of clean
technologies for electric power generation in Ecuador has enabled to fulfill
a large part of the power demand; hydroelectric generation is one of the most
important nationwide, since it represents 92% of the energy matrix. However,
there are certain remote places that lack a connection to the domestic
electric network due to their remote location or isolation from urbanization. The inhabitants of
such rural areas do not have this basic service, and thus other types of
energy, such as microhydraulics, have
been used as a feasible strategy to supply the electric service. In
Ecuador, this technology is within 1% together with other technologies such
as biomass, biogas, geothermal, as shown in [1], which has enabled to
leverage water resources at a low scale, such as streams, irrigation water or
small water falls [2]. Within the field of microhydraulics, it is known
that Archimedes screw is used as one of the strategies to take advantage of
the flows of rivers and waterfalls. In such application it is known as
hydrodynamic screw, and it consists in applying inverse engineering to the
Archimedes screw, i.e., it will not operate as a rudimentary pump but more as
a turbine. This system is applied at low scale to
capture small water drops in rivers, waterfalls or small dams. From the
technical point of view, this strategy is feasible provided
that it is operated with minimum waterfalls; as opposed to those that
require conventional turbines to operate, the hydrodynamic screws are
highefficiency elements regarding production of electricity for larger
operating ranges, reaching a 90% with small disturbances due to changes in
the flow rate. In addition, its efficiency increases according to the design
volume [3]. This is the reason
why, based on the available flow of water, the use of this technology facilitates
the execution of this project regarding efficiency and cost, as opposed to
the case that it is executed with another type of
turbine, which would the efficiency and versatility of the system. At present,
hydroelectric and micro hydroelectric power generation are generally focused
on the use of three turbine models, namely, Kaplan, Francis and Pelton,
which, based on their structure, place of installation and efficiency [4] are
among the most frequently used and studied. The system built is
based on the model developed by Archimedes, which has been used from the III
century B.C., and was initially employed to raise water and other materials,
i.e., as a pump [5]. Afterwards, a further change in the direction of the
helixes of the screw enabled this system to be used
as a turbine for power generation, as it was previously stated, taking
advantage of low water jumps and flow rates, such as the one put into
operation in 2012 in the Tess river dam located in England [2]. 
The
Japanese company Sumino Co., located in the city of Ena
[6], is one of the pioneers in microhydraulic
systems. It has developed modules of different specifications according to
the features of the installation site, which have been able to supply
lighting systems in rice production places, taking advantage of the water
that circulates through the irrigation channels [7]. The implementation of modules based on
particular features such as the turbine structure, lengths and main elements
used such as an electric generator and the water resource [8], has enabled to
demonstrate various concepts such as energy transformation and the use of the
hydraulic potential in places where it is difficult to access to electric
power, which poses a challenge regarding technological innovation to address
this type of problems. Based
on the above, the main objective is the implementation of a microhydraulic generation didactic system based on a
hydrodynamic screw, to supply one or more lighting loads using a reduced flow
of a water resource. Despite
the advantages offered by the use of this technology with hydrodynamic
screws, if it is chosen as an economically feasible
alternative to be used in the long term in rural areas, it is compulsory, due
to environmental care issues, to measure the impact on the incorporation rate
of oxygen to the river, which should be preserved. Therefore, it is a topic
of study to add a corrective or preventive strategy when using this
technology; indeed, there is very little said and researched about assessing
if there is a significant impact on rivers and lagoons, as well as on marine
fauna [9]. 2. State
of the art Santa Cruz [10] carried the study and design
of a micro hydroelectric system to supply electric power to a household in
Cuenca. This study stated that Archimedes screw is the best alternative for
small water jumps and low flow rates; however, a Kaplan turbine was used because this locality had high flows. Ramírez and Ramón [11] conducted a
preliminary study for the implementation of a hydroelectric microgeneration
system for selfsupply of a hostel in the Ecuadorian Amazon. They found that
it was feasible to install a 7.5 (kW) turbogenerator
that takes advantage of the water of various internal waterfalls that exist
due to the Reventador river crossing; a group of Peltontype turbines were chosen because the
water resource is abundant in the area. Nevertheless, they point out that for
powers below 300 (W) and flow rates below 50 (l/s), it is recommended to use
hydrodynamic screws. Arias [12] conducted a feasibility
study of a hydroelectric microgeneration system using Kaplan turbines 
communities that do not have a high population growth and
are at distances smaller than 500 meters from the power supply point. In
addition, this study states the importance of implementing lowcost microhydraulic systems to supply the power demand of
particular lighting loads, and shows that hydrodynamic screws are an
excellent alternative. Lucio [13] carried
out the construction of an Archimedes screw mini turbine, where it is shown
the optimal operation of the system in an irrigation channel, obtaining power
and torque levels that are appropriate to generate mechanical power (it does
not supply electric loads). All the studies
described above show the importance of microhydraulics
in Ecuador and its applications; nevertheless, none of them presents the
design and implementation of a costeffective electric microgeneration system
based on hydrodynamic screws for selfsupply at places that have small water
jumps and low flow rates, and are isolated from the electric network.
Although the system built has academic purposes, it is
intended to formulate projects related to the society to repower it
for its use at isolated places. In addition, this work contains all the
technical information for the implementation of the microturbine
and its application, showing the contribution of this paper in the area of
renewable energies. Table 1 gathers some
papers that analyze the parameters, operation, modelling, etc. of microhydraulic systems that use Archimedes screw
generators. These papers remark the efficiency of these turbines to generate
hydroelectricity at places with little height and moderate flow rate. Table 1. Similar papers about
Archimedes screw generators
Simmons et al. [19] analyzed Archimedes screw
generators for sustainable energy development, generating hydroelectric
energy in plants of up to 200 (kW). In addition, they state that this type of
technology can be used for rural electrification in developing regions with
reliable little water resources. Raza et al... [20] remark
that the electricity generated using hydraulic energy is cheaper and
environmentally friendly; in addition, they state that microgeneration
systems not connected to the network may use waste water, and that Archimedes
turbine is the most appropriate one for a hydroelectric plant with a low waterfall. 
The
objective of this research is to develop a costeffective
and easy to replicate didactic system, to disseminate the knowledge in the
area of microhydraulics, generating clean and
renewable energy. Lowcot materials were used for
the construction of the microturbine. The energy
generated enabled to supply lighting loads using low water flow rates, thus
validating the operation of the system developed. The system put into
operation in this research work may be repowered to
supplement and lower costs in projects [10–13]. In addition, it may be used
in a didactic manner in university labs to motivate students to study and
become experts in the area of renewable energies, to contribute to the change
of the energy matrix in Ecuador. 3. Materials and methods This section
presents the development stages of the project, describing the materials and
methods employed. The system proposed may be divided into two parts: 1. Mechanical design 2. Electricelectronic system 3.1. Mechanical design 3.1.1.
Power of an
Archimedes screw turbine In the case of a
hydraulic turbine, the power is governed by variables defined by the place
where it will be installed, such as the inlet flow rate, the height, and also aspects such as water density and gravity.
Equation (1) establishes the parameters to be included to obtain the
hydraulic power of a turbine [21].
Where
P_{H} is the hydraulic power in (W), ρ corresponds to the water density
in (kg/m^{3}), g is the gravity on earth in (m/s^{2}),
Q is the flow rate that enters the turbine in (m^{3}/s), and H
is the height of the waterfall in (m). 3.1.2.
Inertia and
area of the helix Table 2 considers
the inertia of the turbine as a function of the contact area. A minimum area is contemplated for this design; specifically, a 10 % is
considered since the inlet area of the recirculation water is smaller than
one inch. Considering
the equations for such 10 %, it is obtained that A is the area of contact of
the water with the helixes of the turbine in (m^{2}), R is the external radius of the turbine in (m)
and Y_{c} is the inertia of the
blade in (m) depending on the area of contact to be chosen [21]. 
Table 2. Inertia
of the turbine as a function of the percentage of the contact area [21] 3.1.3. Theoretical torque and power Figure 1 shows the
horizontal thrust force exerted by the water (F_{X}), the
tangential force exerted by the water (F_{Z}), the thrust
force in the direction of the X plane (F_{R}), the force
exerted by the water on the housing (F_{y}),
the vertical force (W) and (α) the angle external to the helix [21].
Figure 1. Forces that act on an Archimedes screw [21] If
the relationship between the XZ plane is considered,
the relationship given by equation (2) may be obtained. Where
the tangential force (F_{z})
together with the inertia of the blade (Y_{C}), describe the
torque generated at the moment of contact of the
water with the screw, thus obtaining equation (3). Equation
(4) may be obtained analyzing the tangential force (F_{Z});
this equation describes the torque of the screw considering the effects of
the water, the height, the contact area and the angles.

Where
T is the torque of the turbine in (Nm), ρ is the water density in (kg/m^{3}),
LT is the total length of the turbine in (m), whose value is assumed based on
technical criteria of design, materials, manufacturing feasibility and versatility,
Θ is the
inclination angle of the turbine in (°) and h is the height of the hydraulic
head; LT, Θ
and h are shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Dimensions considered for the turbine On the other hand,
the theoretical mechanical power of an Archimedes screw may
be also expressed as shown in equation (5).
Where T is
the torque obtained from equation (4), and ω is the angular
speed in (rad/s) given by equation (6).
Substitution of
equations (4) and (6) in equation (5) yields equation (7), which describes
not only standard variables as in equation (1), but is also makes emphasis on
the contact area, inertia, angles and lengths.
In order to obtain
the angle α, it is considered that the efficiency should be assumed in
this case due to various factors such as friction, weight of the turbine, the
environment, etc. Hence, equation (8) gives the efficiency of a turbine.
Where η is the efficiency of a turbine
and P_{theoretical_max}_{ }is
the maximum mechanical power that can be reached by
the turbine in (W). Simplifying equation (7) and substituting the result in
both variables of equation (8) yields equation (9), where it 
can be observed that tan^{2}
(α) is 1 in the
numerator because the maximum angle α should be 45°. From
Figure 2 it is determined that the height is given by equation (10): Considering
equation (10) and substituting and simplifying equation (9) results in
equation (11), which can be used to determine the value of the external angle
(α): The
theoretical torque and power that may be obtained from an Archimedes screw
turbine can be found using equations (4) and (7). 3.1.4. Dimensions and modeling It was adapted an
Archimedes screw with three threads and two revolutions along a plastic shaft
with a length of 0.76 (m), according to the base design taken as reference.
This piece was divided into two sections that may be
coupled. Figure 3 shows the Archimedes screw; it does not have a solid
filling and has a thickness of 0.003 (m) in its shaft and a thickness of
0.002 (m) in its helixes. In the lateral end it has
a hole to attach the turbine with respect to a metallic shaft.
Figure 3. Archimedes screw hydraulic microturbine A
prototype of the existing microgeneration turbine was taken
into account for the design of the microturbine.
The corresponding geometrical specifications were adapted to the proposed
design, and such features are specified in Table 3. 
Table 3.
Features of the hydraulic microturbine
Measures to prevent
friction in rotating parts include maintaining the bearings lubricated and
protecting the metallic parts from rust, since in Archimedes screws it is of
vital importance to avoid friction, especially in the helical helixes,
because of efficiency issues [22]. A metallic
structure, with the dimensions shown in Table 4, was
designed to fix the bearings that bear the microturbine.
This structure is the support of the water stream channel and the microturbine, and also holds the
generator and the electronic circuit. Such structure is associated to
auxiliary mounts that define the inclination and equilibrium of the surface
on which the entire turbinegenerator system will be deployed. Table 4.
Features of the hydraulic microturbine
Once
the purpose of the base metallic structure has been defined,
the plane of its final design is obtained (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Support base of the hydraulic screw Figure
5 shows the 3D model of the microturbine. An
insulated container is placed in the back of the 
Figure 5. Rendered
design of the microgeneration system 3.2.
Electricelectronic
system A water recirculation system was used for the laboratory tests, and thus a storage tank
was arranged to receive and discharge the fluid by means of a 372.85 (W)
hydraulic pump. A brushless DC motor
(BLDC), whose main parts are shown in Figure 6, was
used to produce electricity. This BLDC is operated
as a generator without velocity multipliers, and is coupled to the back of
Archimedes screw. This element adapts to the revolutions by means of a direct
mechanical coupling provided by the turbine; in addition, the inclination of
Archimedes screw and the flow rate that enters the turbine through the
helixes have influence on the conversion from mechanical energy to electrical
energy. Figure 6.
Permanent magnet synchronous motor [23] It was designed the electronic
circuit for the voltage rectifier circuit that will supply the loads. This
circuit has stages for rectifying, filtering and linearizing the alternate
voltage wave at the output of the generator. In addition, a stepup DC–DC
booster converter (MT3608) was incorporated to regulate and amplify 
the filtered DC voltage waves. The
electronic scheme is shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7. Electronic scheme of the
fullwave ACDC voltage rectifier 4. Results and discussion Taking into account all the
parameters, features and requirements of the hydraulic microgeneration
technology, a costeffective and easy to replicate didactic system was built
capable of using a water resource to generate up to 8 (W), supplying the
demand of 6 (V) LED lighting loads. The system may be easily disassembled for
its transportation from one place to another when it is required to observe
its operation, either in the laboratory or outdoors.
In addition, the system designed and built represents an innovative and
efficient solution that may be improved for generating electricity from
unconventional renewable sources The hydraulic screw
was made through 3D printing (Figure 8) in fused deposition modeling (MDF),
using polylactic acid filament in the entire
structure of the hydraulic microturbine.
Figure 8. Metallic structure that
supports the microgeneration system 
Figure 9 shows the
system built and operating in the laboratory, the demand (6V LED lights) is
satisfactorily supplied using to the inlet flow of water that is
recirculating through the system. Figure 9. Metallic structure that
supports the microgeneration system En la Figura 10 se observa el sistema construido y funcionando en laboratorio, la demanda establecida (luces LED de 6 V) es abastecida correctamente gracias al flujo de agua de entrada que se encuentra recirculando por el sistema. Si bien el sistema de microgeneración cuenta con una bomba de agua para un circuito hidráulico que recircula el agua, esto sirve para emular el medio físico donde se instalaría dicho sistema y realizar las respectivas pruebas de funcionamiento en laboratorio. Para la adaptación y utilización del sistema en lugares externos al laboratorio no son necesarios estos componentes por lo cual se pueden desmontar fácilmente, ya que lo único que se necesita es la presencia de un riachuelo y la colocación del generador para el paso de agua (Figura 11).
Figure 10.
Hydraulic microgeneration system 
As a constant flow
rate (minimum) of 0.583 (l/s) enters the turbine, it rotates at a speed in
the range from 18.85 to 20.94 (rad/s) with the corresponding coupling to the
generator. As a flow rate (maximum)
Figure 11. Microhydraulic
generation system installed in a stream Tests were carried out for different inlet flow rates, measuring
the power generated to supply a particular load. Table 5 and Figure 12 show
the power generated by the microturbine built in
this work, as a function of the inlet flow rate. The power generated was established through operation tests, which show that
as the inlet flow rate increases so does the power. With the minimum flow
rate of 0.583 (l/s), a current of 0.4 (A) and a voltage of 6 (V) were
obtained, which can be used to supply a LED light with these specifications,
whereas the maximum flow rate enables supplying up to 3 LED lights. Although
there are various systems to supply the power demand without connecting to
the electric network, even obtaining higher levels of power, the microturbine built represents a very attractive
alternative for school students to get involved in the area of microhydraulics. This type of technology is capable of
recovering the energy from a great variety of small water jumps, and its
installation and maintenance costs are very low compared
to other renewable energies. The system presented
in this work is feasible because it uses lowcost materials; in addition, the
technical information presented in this paper constitutes a basis to build,
replicate and repower a system, that can also adapt
to different environments, indoors or outdoors. These results
evidence that the objective of the microgeneration didactic system was
fulfilled, which is to contribute to the development of students’ knowledge
about renewable energies, by means of the supply of the demand of lighting
loads from the kinetic energy of water. Figure 13 shows the training of
students from the Escuela de Formación
de Tecnólogos (ESFOT) of the Escuela
Politécnica Nacional, in the operation of the
system. 
Table 5.
Values of power generated as a function of the inlet flow rate
Figure 12.
Power generated by the microturbine vs. inlet flow
rate Figure 13.
Students observing the operation of the microgeneration system in the
laboratory The
installation of a rectifier was considered to supply
the lighting load, in order to avoid the intermittency in the lamp used and
to stabilize the power delivered by the generator. 
Consequently, based
on the microturbine design specifications, there
are losses due to different factors, such as the friction, resistance of the
generator, weight, etc., which cause losses in the stage of transformation
from mechanical to electrical energy. Nevertheless, hydrodynamic screws
exhibit high efficiency regarding generation of electricity for larger
operating ranges, reaching 90% with little disturbances in the flow rate; in
addition, its efficiency increases according to the design volume. The system built is
a contribution to the development of knowledge about microhydraulics,
since the results obtained enable to verify that the module operates
correctly and that it may be used for teaching
activities in laboratory practices. In addition, it should
be pointed out that the operation tests have been carried out with the
system to recirculate the water (pumps, pipes and storage tank) in the ESFOT
laboratory and in a stream in the locality of Guayllabamba,
being able to satisfactorily supply lighting loads. Therefore, it is stated that the didactic microturbine
implemented in this work may serve as a base to extend the system to real
applications in areas isolated from the electric network, taking into account
the demand that should be fulfilled. An aspect that
should be considered is the energy storage system that would be used by the
lighting load during dry seasons; however, a continuous and stable presence
of the water resource has been considered for the present project, i.e., it
is used the energy produced when the system is operated.
5. Conclusions Based on the values obtained and
on the implementation of the microgeneration system, it is emphasized that
the water flow is the resource used to produce movement, as it was verified
in the tests carried out with a water flow rate of 0.583 (l/s), in which the
screw moved at a considerable speed. However, a higher efficiency is obtained
when the flow rate is increased, generating better torque and a power of up
to 8 (W) to supply a larger number of loads connected. The microgeneration
system based on an Archimedes screw enables to supply up to three LED lights
of 6 (V) and 0.4 (A). Although it is a didactic system, it could
be improved and its performance extended to supply a larger demand. The turbine was
thoroughly calibrated and adjusted, so that there is no direct contact of the
turbine with the metallic structure and also to guarantee that it is as
centered as possible at the moment of starting
operation. The dimensions of the general system were defined and mechanical
design planes were made for the corresponding
description. 
Taking into account
the electric demand to be
In
the present work, a system based on clean and renewable energy was designed and built. Lowcost materials were used to
obtain a costeffective and easy to replicate system, and
also easy to repower compared to other types of technologies. The
system built is a contribution for the microhydraulic
technology and its socialization in educational institutions, so that
students and other people interested may know and learn about this type of
technology. In the case of the ESFOT, the microturbine
can be used for didactic applications in the
laboratory, where students may extend, strengthen and supplement their
knowledge related to renewable energies. In addition, this work is framed within the area of Applied Technology projects
at the ESFOT, which have enabled to state technical solutions in different
projects that involve a relationship with the society. References [1] Ministerio de Energía y Minas, Ecuador consolida la producción eléctrica a partir de fuentes renovables. Ministerio de Energía y Minas. República del Ecuador, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://bit.ly/3jbARot [2] J. E. Santa Cruz Herrera, “Análisis energético de un tornillo de arquímedes para canales de regadío con una caída de 2 m y caudal de 2 m^{3}/s,” 2018. [Online]. Available: https://bit.ly/3BHjzG4 [3] M. E. Madrid Wolff and J. M. Toro Bedoya, “Viabilidad técnica y económica de tornillos hidrodinámicos para generación eléctrica,” 2013. [Online]. Available: https://bit.ly/3v1axzK [4] Enel. (2022) Turbina hidroeléctrica. [Online]. Available: https://bit.ly/3Pzvmf7 [5] E. Martínez Rull. (2019) Lista la primera central de tornillo de Arquímedes. [Online]. Available: https://bit.ly/3FsebaI [6] JGoodTech. (2022) Corporate profile. [Online]. Available: https://bit.ly/3WnNb3b [7] M. Sumino. (2022) Generador móvil de energía hidráulica ultrapequeño, tienes agua tienes energía. [Online]. Available: https://bit.ly/3PuN4k9 
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