The REDC Story

How did you get into the field of inventing clean energy technologies to help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues today?

It started when Kelly Fetters Sr. went to The Evergreen State College to study Geo-hydrology and business to add to his Power Engineering Degree (Transmission of High Voltage Electricity). His reason for choosing The Evergreen State College was because they had an Independent Learning Contract (ILC) and he could study anything he wanted and get college credit, as long as a professor signed off on the learning experience.

Kelly chose to prove his thesis that Bamboo and an inexpensive centrifugal pump could be used together to generate low-cost carbon-free electricity 24 hours a day with a run-of-the-river Micro-hydropower application. A downward flowing (200Ft. elevation difference) stream is needed and Kelly found one.

The Bamboo Hydropower Project was born and Kelly conducted R&D, built a test bench and burst multiple species of cured bamboo to come up with a working pressure for the bamboo.

Test bench for bamboo pressure testing with water

Common or Bambusa Vulgaris and Moso bamboo were the most promising species and tests proved a working pressure of 50PSI.

150 PSI Moso bamboo!

Implementation: A Clean Energy Site in Morton, Washington was found and selected for site development, testing and removal. Kelly located a property owner with water rights and he agreed to implement it for temporary testing only and then remove it after the data had been collected. In his final year at Evergreen he proved his Thesis that Bamboo can be used as a pen-stock pipe for Micro-hydropower electric generation system and that a small centrifugal pump can be used in reverse operation to create mechanical energy when a shaft is coupled to the impeller of the centrifugal pump.

Coupling, couples bamboo together for miles if needed without leaking or bursting.
Powerhouse built from local resources.
Intake pipe at the weir. The bamboo coupling allows 2 1/2 to 3 inch PVC to be coupled to one another

During his ILC at Evergreen he invented a coupling and a boring process that allows bamboo to serve as pressurized water piping at a low-cost for those in developing nations. When properly cured the bamboo help pressure up to 150 PSI and water flow of 200 gallons per minute. A working pressure was estimated between 50-60 PSI by Kelly.

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Weir / Micro -hydropower dam made with rock and leaf.
When forcing pressurized water down the discharge, the impeller is forced to rotate backwards. The connected shaft rotates and mechanical energy is present. The centrifugal pump can be used in place of expensive Micro-hydropower turbines. The cost, availability, and its simplicity were the reasons for its selection.

To reduce the up-front development costs of the Micro-hydropower site further, Kelly used an inexpensive centrifugal pump as the turbine for his Micro-hydropower application. The technology is mass produced, inexpensive, easy to repair and simple to operate. Kelly simply used the pump in its reverse operation. Water is forced under pressure down the discharge tube of the pump. The force and pressure of the water makes the impeller rotate backwards and water exits the suction tube. The connected shaft now rotates and mechanical energy is available for electric generation.

Hydropower provides 24 hour carbon-free electricity and normally costs between $7.00 and $10.00 per watt to develop a “normal” site. The “Bamboo Hydropower Project came in at a cost of just $0.89 per watt.

Kelly wrote a paper for USAID’s Powering Agricultures Energy Grand Challenge. Kelly used the Bamboo Hydropower Project testing results for his grant. In Kelly’s business model, electricity is used for grinding grain during the day and at night women use the electricity to build Bamboo Lightsticks for $1.51 and sell them between $5.00 and $10.00 (USD) at the local market. The made in Africa Lightstick is rechargeable, is low-in-cost and provides new revenue streams for the Micro-hydropower electricity business, women and households. The Bamboo Lightsticks made their way to Muhuru Bay, Kenya where they were used by local community members. The product was well received and tested for a period of 30 days in July 2014.

Rechargeable Bamboo Light Sticks taught uneducated women in rural developing nations how to use electricity to manufacture a product that can be sold for a profit.

Since his scientific clean energy projects for developing nations at college he has invented the Solar Food Preservation Facility and started his own company.

Click here to watch our You Tube video

Solar Food Preservation Facility

The Fetters Hydrokinetic Turbine

Fetters Hydrokinetic Turbine

Retrofitting Americas Infrastructure with clean energy solutions. Pipes, canals, storm drains, dams, locks and water distribution and collection infrastructure all possess wasted energy. We retrofit the Fetters Hydrokinetic Turbine to already-in-place infrastructure.

Fetters Hydrokinetic Turbine retrofit for already-in-place infrastructure.

Throughout Kelly’s leadership in the clean energy industry he has invented the Bamboo Lightstick, Bamboo Coupling, Fetters Hydrokinetic Turbine, REDC’s Hydrokinetic Pumped Energy Storage System for Micro-grids, the Solar Food Preservation Facility, REDC Solar Heat Exchanger, REDC Ammonia Absorption Heat Exchanger and the REDC Canning Kettle. He’s the Author of the Bamboo Hydropower Project @ Evergreen State College, USAID’s Powering Agriculture Energy Grand Challenge Paper the Bamboo Hydropower Project For Rural Farmers in Developing Nations, The Department of Energy’s Hydrokinetic Pumped Energy Storage System for rural Micro-grids and the Solar Food Preservation Facility.

Kelly C. Fetters Sr.