Whooshh Innovations has developed an innovative technology solution to a vexing worldwide problem. As climate change becomes increasingly pressing, producing more clean energy from hydropower while also restoring the ecosystem is more important than ever. Native fish are integral to the food chain, their habitats and ecosystems.
Read on to discover how Whoooshh Innovations inventions enable fish to safely glide past barriers while producing more hydropower flow and why an investment today can be a win win for everyone.
The Hot Topic of Climate Change
I'm Vincent Bryan, CEO and one of the founders of Whooshh Innovations, and I've been with the company from the start. Climate change headlines are frequently featured in the media, describing the very urgent need for our scalable solutions today. We believe hydropower, as the largest renewable, is an important component of the climate solution and plays a crucial role in reducing CO2 emissions and the realization of a carbon-free electrical grid by 2050.
Our technologies address two of the largest industries in the world, food, and energy. In some states, such as Washington, hydropower is actually the largest energy producer by far. To understand the role Whooshh plays, you need to know about the typical way fish pass dams - a fish ladder. A fish ladder is a structure built in or around a dam or other man-made obstacle to help fish migrate upstream to their spawning grounds. Fish ladders are designed to provide a series of steps or pools that fish can swim up in order to circumvent the obstacle.
This ladder is necessary for the fish to pass the dam, but as the surface water in the forebay warms up, the act of climbing each step of the ladder, stresses the fish, drains its energy, so many are unable to reach their spawning grounds. This is called pre-spawning mortality. The traditional fish ladder option for fish passage have resulted in the loss of vital natural resources, including water resources, as water is spilled to “help” the fish ascend the ladder. We are losing up to 10% of the water resource in any river flowing past a hydropower dam that deploys traditional ladder designs since that “lost” water does not produce power and is coming down the ladder to benefit the fish. As a result, most dams were built without fish ladders.
The traditional custom and civil engineering fish ladder projects - projects that primarily use concrete, steel, and rebar - are too slow to build, and too costly. Efforts to improve fish passage in the US have been ongoing for many years, with federal, state, and local agencies working to identify and remove barriers to fish movement, as well as implement new fish passage solutions. However, nearly every site struggles with fish passage issues using traditional fish passage solutions.
Whooshh Fish To Safety
Whooshh! That's the exact noise you hear when we send fish safely over a dam through our novel smart fish passage systems. How does it work? We developed a novel Migrator tube, filled with air and that is lubricated with mist. This modular system transports migrating salmon and other fish species from the river below the dam, up over the dam and into the lake above in a matter of seconds. When the salmon reach the entrance of our Passage Portal, they naturally swim into an attraction flow we use at the entrance to the system, and that is where their incredible journey begins. Once inside, the fish swim through a small 6 inch waterfall and then simultaneously dewatered and autonomously scanned to determine size and species to ensure they are not invasive species. When the scanner sends the information to the sorting computer, the sorting computer switches a gate, and the computer determines if the fish is a native fish destined for the Whooshh Migrator tube or if it is an invasive fish destined for an alternative resting place - all in less than a second. The native fish are quickly and safely transported through our pneumatic Migrator tubes over the dam in less than a minute.
“The fish pass through without so much as a scratch. Also, you won’t have to divert water, as you do in a ladder system. Out here, the economy is all about agriculture, and water is gold. That’s what makes Whooshh such a great concept.”
- Mark Johnston, Yakama Nation Fisheries Biologist
The return of salmon to the Pacific Northwest is particularly important to the N. American indigenous tribes.
Whooshh is interested in helping solve fish passage issues in N. American and the more than one million dams around the world as well. This will provide time to develop other clean energy solutions for the electric grid, while assuring that we do not extirpate all of the fish first.
Hydro-powering A Safer World
Depending on the dam's size, our Passage Portal costs just a fraction of a traditional fish ladder system. 58,000 of the one million dams are taller than 50 feet, and only 3% of all dams currently provide fish passage. It is estimated that there are 85,000 dams in the United States. If we install 11 systems a day, it would still take us 20 years to build fish passages on just these dams. We must accelerate deployments and scale up now.
We have a lot of work to do!
Watch our recent recap here and join Whooshh Innovations on StartEngine as we enable more efficient use of water resources and promote the development of clean, renewable energy, while ensuring that our native fish species will recover to their historical numbers.