Lewis and Clark Lake near Yankton could benefit from a national contest focused on new technology for fighting sedimentation.
In turn, the technology could apply to the Missouri River and other major bodies of water. The new approaches could lengthen the lifespans of the nation’s reservoirs.
The Missouri Sedimentation Action Coalition (MSAC) sponsored a webinar Friday featuring one of the three finalists in the “Guardians of the Reservoir Prize Competition.”
The Bureau of Reclamation partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NASA Tournament Lab and HeroX on this competition. The program was launched July 14, 2020, to develop more cost-effective sediment removal methods for reservoirs.
The contest can provide a major boost for Lewis and Clark Lake, according to Sandy Stockholm, the MSAC executive director from Springfield.
“The lake is nearly 30% full of silt and is expected to become half-full by 2045 unless the problem is addressed,” she said. “On average, the Lewis and Clark Lake sediment extends 400 feet per year.”
Mazdak International, Inc., was spotlighted during Friday’s webinar. The Sumas, Washington, firm captured the Innovation Award in the competition with its slurry pulsejet engine.
The new technology captures, dewaters and moves the sediment to dry or semi-dry form. The process is based in minimizing water and power consumption.
Baha Abulnaga and David Dibley of Mazdak developed this new technology.
“The invention is called ‘Slurry Pulsejet Engine’ because it generates pulses of slurry,” Abulnaga said.
The “Guardians of the Reservoir” innovations can help overcome past dredging and flushing challenges such as time, cost, labor and the need for large equipment, Stockholm said.
“MSAC feels it is important to keep up to date on emerging technologies to address reservoir sedimentation,” she said. “Innovation does not happen overnight. It’s great to see people developing a concept, testing it in labs and looking to test it in the field. I can imagine it takes a lot of persistence and determination.”
The Bureau of Reclamation selected D-Sediment team from Germany as the $100,000 prize winner of the Guardians of the Reservoir Prize Competition. The 3 D Dredger™ Team was presented with the Versatility Award.
The competition sought to stimulate new ideas to current techniques, Abulnaga said.
“The Guardians of Reservoirs noticed that current technology at depth exceeding 50 feet was very limited and challenged the innovators for new solutions for depth of 50 feet to 200 feet or even deeper, such as the Hoover Dam that is 600 feet deep,” he said.
During Friday’s webinar, Abulnaga described transporting sediment using the power of available water along with compressed air and fuel, similar to the operation of a gas-powered car.
“Mazdak International developed a new submersible platform that operates on the principle of an internal combustion liquid piston engine,” he said.
The approach takes into account a large network of natural gas pipelines near large reservoirs on the biggest rivers, Abulnaga said.
The inventors are also working on collecting methane emissions from reservoirs to convert them as fuel for dredging, using the slurry pulsejet engine, Abulnaga said.
According to one estimate, the methane emissions from water lakes, rivers and reservoirs could have covered all the electricity needs for the world in 2018, he added.
The Mazdak project is conducting lab tests in developing prototypes, Abulnaga said. He outlined the cost-benefit ratios for various sizes of small, mid-sized and large projects and reservoirs. The large projects can provide the greatest efficiencies, but the mobilization and demobilization costs must also be taken into account, he added.
Stockholm asked if the approach would well for Lewis and Lake. Abulnaga replied that the process can be adjusted for the lake’s depth and current level of sedimentation. The effort would also take into account the impact on the environment, wildlife and purposes such as hydropower, he added.
MSAC has sought to create and build on awareness of issues facing the Missouri River and other bodies of water, Stockholm told the Press & Dakotan.
“More and more people and water resource managers are recognizing reservoir sedimentation as a problem around the nation,” she said. “That’s a necessary step in finding answers.”
A coalition has fought sedimentation for more than two decades, Stockholm said. Now, the groundwork and partnerships are leading to concrete action, she added.
“With Phase 2 of developing a sediment management plan, we hope to have a clearer economic picture of what has been lost and what could be lost if sedimentation accumulation continues,” she said.
“We also expect a list of management techniques, including results of the Solutions Workshop held in Yankton in 2021 along with information from the Guardians of the Reservoirs challenge which just wrapped up in September.
“Phase 2 is on track to be completed by the end of the year or early next year. Phase 3 could get more specific in regards to looking at one or more of those techniques closer.”
MSAC intends to host webinars with the other two finalists of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Guardians of the Reservoir prize competition, Stockholm said.
“As MSAC works with stakeholders to develop a sediment management plan at this stage, we want to keep many sediment management techniques on the table to consider,” she said. “It’s an ongoing process.”
To learn more about this competition, visit https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/sediment-removal.html.
For more information about MSAC, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit its website.
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