LEVIATHAN’S HYDROELECTRIC Benkatina.
(photo credit: Sharon Udasin)
In the middle of the arid Negev desert, just minutes from the Gazan border,
Leviathan Energy unveiled a new hydroelectric technology that operates not in
outdoor dams but in underground pipes, where it is fine-tunable according to
changing pressure of the pipe flow.
The Jerusalem Post was on a tour of
the company’s testing site at Kibbutz Re’im, where the parts for the system are
manufactured at the on-site kibbutz company, Isralaser.
hydroelectric turbine – called the Benkatina Turbine – can operate inside a
water pipe, taking the excess pressure from the piping system and turning it
into electricity, according to the company.
Unlike in a dam, where water
flow conditions and pressure are stable, the water flow inside a pipe is
variable, and Leviathan’s machinery makes use of only the pipe’s excess pressure
to maintain the system’s integrity, explained CEO and founder of the company,
Dr. Daniel Farb, who was not actually onsite at the day of the
“In spite of these challenges, we are here today to celebrate the
fact that we have achieved 55 percent efficiencies even at very low flow rates,
and we expect higher efficiencies, closer to that of traditional hydroelectric
power, as we continue to test higher flows and develop the next round of
engineering,” Farb said in a statement.
Isralaser, whose office parking
lot contains a massive water pipe transformed into a kassam-rocket shelter,
provides Leviathan – and many other bodies across Israel – with laser beam
cutting and water-jet slicing of metals, to quickly mold and meld metal
Although around 60% of Isralaser’s clientele is military, the
firm also has many private civilian customers, and never shuts down production
even in the midst of falling rockets, according to marketing manager Eron
Isralaser is in charge of assembling every part of Leviathan’s
products, from its new hydroelectric developments to its small, tulip-shaped
vertical wind turbines.
Outside assembly and in practical use and
implementation, three trial phases of the hydroelectric apparatus have thus far
occurred, two in Mekorot National Water Company pipelines and one in Malagos,
the Philippines, Avner Farkash, vice president of research and development and
chief engineer for Leviathan, explained at the launch meeting, also attended by
the Energy and Water Ministry’s chief scientist.
such a system could allow industries to reduce their electricity bills, as the
system can inject useable electricity into the grid and thereby provide a
feed-in tariff to customers, according to Farkash.
For both agricultural
sites in Israel and remote villages in India or Africa that do not yet have
electricity, the system could provide a much needed source, he added. In
addition, the inpipe hydroelectric apparatus could be a homeland security tool,
as it can act as an undercover supply of power.
The generators, Farkash
said, have a supply capacity of anywhere between 20 and 60 kilowatts of energy,
and the flow of the turbines is constantly “tunable.”
The company is
hoping to conduct a full-fledged pilot project of the system in cooperation with
Hagihon municipal water supplier in Jerusalem, so that it can further prove the
efficiency of its techniques, said Joe Van Zwaren, vice president for business
“This is a technology that can be quickly implemented,
assuming complete cooperation on all fronts, throughout the country to help
relieve the electricity shortage by next summer,” Farb said. “Furthermore, it is
completely clean and functions on current infrastructure.”