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Hydropower's Future Relies on Next Generation Water Power Technologies - Hydro DamAlthough other renewable sources of energy may be growing at a faster rate, more electricity continues to be generated in the U.S. by conventional hydropower than by wind, solar and geothermal power combined. Hydropower accounts for 52 percent of the nation’s renewable electricity power generation and 7 percent of total electricity generation. Hydropower is the safest and cleanest source of power generated in the world today.

To date, a large percentage of the potential hydropower capacity has been developed in North America and Europe. However, considerable potential capacity remains in Africa, Asia (specifically China and India) and Latin America.

A major challenge stalling the accelerated growth of the hydropower industry is the large upfront capital investment required to build a new plant. Complicating matters is that the industry is heavily regulated and new investments are subject to the significant site, feasibility and environmental assessments by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Committee). A primary goal of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 was to expedite the licensing process in an effort to shorten the start-up process for new plants. 

Even though hydropower is considered less variable than wind or solar energy, over the long-term, it remains dependent on the level of precipitation and/ or water run-off. To realize the full potential of water power, innovative technologies are needed to harness resources from a wide array of water sources, from streams to oceans.



Download White Paper

Download The Future of Renewable Energy Relies on Innovations Focused on Increasing Output and Decreasing Costs White Paper to learn about emerging technologies designed to increase the profitability and reliability of renewable hydropower plants.


Most promising water power technologies

The Office of Energy Efficiency has identified what it classifies as the five most promising water technologies. These include:

1. Modular hydropower--uses separate, similar components that can be constructed offsite and then easily integrated into new or existing sites and scaled to greater capacities. The result is reduced installation and civil works costs, as well as less environmental impact

2. Powering non-powered dams--approximately 80,000 dams in the US don’t produce power, of which 50,000 have been identified as viable for power generation. Turbines could be added to these sites to efficiently add new hydropower capacity to the grid. (The powering of non-powered dams is another focus area of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.)

3. Pumped-storage hydropower (PSH)--works like a big battery, pumping water to a higher elevation, which can then be released at any time to turn turbines and meet energy demand.

4. Tidal energy--although there are no permanent tidal power plants in the US as of June 2017, the Energy Department has funded research to develop new ways to install and maintain tidal power plants, specifically in the Pacific Northwest and the Atlantic Northeast regions. The Department is specifically looking to optimize a way to deploy and retrieve three tidal turbines together as a single system with one on-water operation without diver support.

5. Wave Energy--ocean waves pack immense energy but researchers have yet to identify a technology that can safely, reliably and cost-effectively convert wave energy into usable electricity.


Turbines are changing the game

Turbines that turn underwater to capture the hydrokinetic energy of the tide offer tremendous potential (as compared with the more traditional hydro-powered dams that rely on gravity to create energy). Water has a higher density than air which creates a bigger mass flow and generates more energy. To date, however, they have not proven cost-efficient or reliable over the long-term because underwater systems are harder to maintain and subject to corrosion.

Other hydrokinetic technologies leverage the motion of currents in the ocean, as well as streams and rivers. There has also been some exploration in small-scale hydropower using a cross-flow turbine to operate at the exact point where water spills over a non-powered dam.


Smarter maintenance technologies increase efficiencies

As is the case with other types of renewable power plants, there are additional opportunities for smarter maintenance strategies in hydropower plants. Advances in digitalization software have significantly improved in this area, analyzing previous failures to predict future issues and downtime. Beyond this, however, the industry needs more durable components that last longer to streamline maintenance requirements. While seemingly simplistic, such durability is critical to lowering long-term costs since most hydro plants are remotely located and more expensive to maintain.

Other approaches to streamlining maintenance include the greater use of flange systems to reduce the amount of welding required. A variety of newer piping solutions are also impacting maintenance budgets. Consider, for example, actuation systems that open wells and gates at plants and typically use a hydraulic cylinder and lots of pipes to connect with the cylinder. An autonomous system directly on the cylinder that’s driven by electricity could significantly reduce the amount of piping required, saving material costs and maintenance time.

Hydropower's Future Relies on Next Generation Water Power Technologies - Parflange F37 - Parker HPCE Division

Hydropower's Future Relies on Next Generation Water Power Technologies - Parflange connections - Parker HPCE Division








Parflange F37 Non-welded Tube & Piping System - The innovative system is comprised of seamless cold drawn tube and pipe, a broad range of interconnect components, valves, and clamps, and is fully supported by Parker’s Complete Piping Solutions fabrication services.


Key to the future of renewable hydropower energy

The benefits of hydropower as renewable energy are well documented and include:

  • Generating energy that produces no greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels and reduces some types of air pollution.

  • Diversifying energy supply and reducing dependence on imported fuels.

  • Creating economic development and jobs in manufacturing, installation and more based on demand.



Download Future of Renewables White Paper

Hydropower's Future Relies on Next Generation Water Power Technologies - WP Future of Renewables But renewable hydropower continues to face major challenges. Download The Future of Renewable Energy Relies on Innovations Focused on Increasing Output and Decreasing Costs white paper to learn about emerging technologies designed to increase the profitability and reliability of renewable hydropower plants in order to make them a truly viable long-term alternative.





Article contributed by Parker Energy Team



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Hydropower's Future Relies on Next Generation Water Power Technologies

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Parker Sporlan's new web-based product selection program, Virtual Engineer, allows the user to size, select and fully configure products for Air Conditioning and Refrigeration applications. Virtual Engineer features quick selection of single or multiple components by template. An innovative dashboard and project system make saving, editing, and sharing projects easy. 

Virtual Engineer replaces Parker Sporlan’s legacy Selection Program. The legacy Selection Program was originally created to perform distributor calculations for internal purposes. Over the years, its use expanded to include many of the products Parker Sporlan offers and became an industry standard tool for selecting products in HVACR applications. 

By using Virtual Engineer, OEMs, Wholesalers, and Contractors can select the latest Parker Sporlan products with the most up-to-date refrigerants available on the market today. Users can select and size easily while out on the job site, in the equipment room or from their office. Parker Sporlan is committed to serving the HVACR industry with new and updated innovative tools to help users get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Virtual Engineer highlights 17 product areas with a basic template layout.

Product areas:

  • Distributors

  • Expansion Valves

  • Solenoid Valves – Discharge, Suction, Liquid

  • Catch-Alls® – Liquid, Suction          

  • Suction Filters

  • Discharge Bypass Valves

  • Evaporator Pressure Regulators

  • Discharge MTW Valves

  • Head Pressure Control Valves

  • Differential Pressure Regulators

  • Temperature Responsive Valves

  • 3-Way Hot Gas Defrost Valves

  • Condenser Split Solenoid Valves

  • 3-Way Heat Reclaim Valves

  • Secondary Coolant Valves

  • Liquid, Discharge and Suction Line Sizing

  • Flash Gas Bypass and Gas Cooler Valves


Getting started - Background and the basics

 With the use of an interactive template, all product areas are represented on the Dashboard when the user accesses the login page. The user can toggle from part to part from within the different categories, then is prompted to enter specific information when the part is chosen. Once a part is chosen, the Sizing and Configuration tools for each product appears. This feature is particularly valuable in systems such as cooling loops in which the optimal sizing and selection path is not intuitive. First-time users can now complete sizing and selection with minimal assistance.

Virtual Engineer allows refrigerant and product updates to become available as they are released. The web-based aspect of it ensures users are working with the latest version of the program. The HTML5 interface makes it scalable to the screen size being used. NIST Refrprop 10.0 is used for the refrigerant properties.

Popular system features from the previous Selection Program such as line sizing and thermodynamic reports have been carried over to Virtual Engineer. Thermodynamic reports have been expanded to include Pressure-Enthalpy, Pressure-Temperature and Enthalpy-Temperature graphs.

“We are excited about several new tools in the Virtual Engineer package, including the ability to size electric valves and mechanical valves in the same tool allowing for side-by-side loading analysis. The new software also allows for sizing of a wider range of electric valves including the Modulating 3-Way Valves, electric head pressure control valves, and Transcritical CO2 products. The new tools build on Parker Sporlan’s legacy of supporting the HVACR industry and providing new, innovative tools that help users get the job done.” 

Dustin Searcy, division marketing manager, Sporlan Division


Your step-by-step guide to using Virtual Engineer

Save design engineering time with these simple steps:

Step 1: Click to access Parker Sporlan's Virtual Engineer

Step 2: Choose your product category using the interactive interface.

Step 3: Size, select and compare products that meet the requirements of your application.

Step 4: Find a wholesaler, create your personal account, share your project, and/or download files.


Step 1: Access Parker Sporlan's Virtual Engineer 

This is what you'll see.


  Step 2: Choose your product category using the interactive interface.
  • Use the grey arrows to toggle forward and backward to find your product category. 

  • Once you've identified your product category, click the image to load the sizing tool.



Step 3: Size, select and compare products that meet the requirements of your application.

In this example, the Expansion Valve sizing tool is chosen, located in the Expansion Devices section.

  • The Product Info icon takes you to the Expansion Valve's product page. Each product page is specific to that product family. This page will include a product overview, specifications, literature and other product support materials.

  • Enter your system information in the required red field boxes. Virtual Engineer will alert you if an incorrect value is entered. As information is entered, the available products will be filtered on the right side of the screen.

  • You can also Save Progress and Reset Parameters using the tools in the upper right column.  Saving your progress will require you to create a free account with Virtual Engineer.

  • After entering your parameters, click the Compare button at the top right of the screen. All available options are included in the compare table by default.  You can deselect these as necessary. The Compare button will bring up the Compare Table.



  • In the below example we will compare a thermostatic expansion valve with an electric expansion valve. After making your selections, you can create PDF report (RPT field) containing all your inputs, valve selection, and calculated values or export the values in an Excel file.
  • Clicking the Configure button will open an eConfigurator that will allow you to further define your valve and create a part number, relevant values will be preselected.


How to Use Virtual Engineer for HVACR Product Selections - Step 2 page - Parker Sporlan Virtual Engineer


  • The Save button on the eConfigurator will take you to a login page and the My Projects section of Virtual Engineer.

How to Use Virtual Engineer for HVACR Product Selections - Step 3 Page - Parker Sporlan Virtual Engineer


Step 4:  Find a wholesaler, create your personal account, share your project, and/or download files.
  • Login or create an account to access My Projects. Creating an account in Virtual Engineer is free.



  • Add your part to an existing project, or create a new one. Next create a system inside your project. There is no limit to the number of projects or systems you have.

How to Use Virtual Engineer for HVACR Product Selections - Parker Sporlan Virtual Engineer


  • The next screen that follows is the System Dashboard. 

How to Use Virtual Engineer for HVACR Product Selections - Parker Sporlan Virtual Engineer system dashboard -


  • Inside the dashboard, clicking View Detailed System Summary will create a PDF of all system conditions, valve selections, part numbers, and calculated values.
  • The Where To Buy button will allow you to locate your closest Sporlan Authorized Wholesaler.
  • Share Your System will allow you to share the details of your system with a Sporlan Application Engineer.
  • The Thermo Tool allows you to generate Pressure Temperature charts for most refrigerants. It will also allow you to create Pressure-Enthalpy, Pressure-Temperature and Enthalpy-Temperature graphs.

How to Use Virtual Engineer for HVACR Product Selections - Jason Forshee - Parker Sporlan

Article contributed by Jason Forshee, application engineer, Sporlan Division of Parker Hannifin





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How to Use Virtual Engineer for HVACR Product Selections

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Why is Outgassing Critical in Optics and Electronics Applications? - GettyImages-963423914-electronic-board-checked-using-an-electron-microscope300x200 - Parker O-Ring & Engineered Seals DivisionFor some applications, a critical component of selecting a seal material is a phenomenon known as “outgassing”. However, even within the elastomer community, outgassing is not something that is commonly considered. Which begs the questions: what is outgassing and why is it important? Outgassing is usually most relevant in vacuum applications, where the vacuum causes the elastomer to release constituent material. The constituent material could include water vapor, plasticizers, oils, byproducts of the cure reaction, or other additives used in the seal material. Outgassing becomes a problem if a thin film of those chemicals condenses and is deposited on nearby surfaces. Such a film poses major challenges in highly sensitive applications, such as optics or electronics, where cleanliness is of utmost importance. A seal material with low outgassing  is essential because it shows the seal material does not emit volatile constituents under vacuum conditions.

Weight loss of compounds in vacuum

Outgassing is most often characterized by weight loss of the seal material. The ASTM test method E595 is one way to quantify outgassing by measuring Total Mass Loss (TML %), Collected Volatile Condensable Materials (CVCM %) and a reported value for Water Vapor Regain (WVR %).  Measurements are taken following a 24 hour exposure to vacuum of 5x10-5 torr at a temperature of 257°F.

Why is Outgassing Critical in Optics and Electronics Applications? - Black O-rings 300x200 - Parker O-Ring & Engineered Seals DivisionTaken together, these three parameters tell a complete story. The TML is reported as the percent of the specimen’s initial weight that is lost during the test; under standard criteria, the result must be less than 1.00% mass loss. Obviously, minimizing TML is a good thing, but it is not the only important factor. Collected volatile condensable material (CVCM) is the amount of outgassed matter from a specimen that condenses onto a collector during the maintained time and temperature. CVCM is of particular concern because any material that readily condenses in the test is likely to condense on and contaminate nearby surfaces during use. To pass the standard CVCM requirement, the amount collected relative to the initial mass of the specimen must be less than 0.10%. The final measurement, WVR, is the mass of the water vapor absorbed by the specimen after a 24-hour stabilization at 23°C in a 50% relative humidity atmosphere. There is seldom a pass/fail limit for WVR; instead this result is merely reported. In many applications, the small amount of water vapor lost by a seal may not be of concern, particularly if the application already includes a means of controlling moisture. Further, any WVR is presumed to be equal to the portion of original TML that was water vapor. The difference between TML and WVR is therefore presumed to be volatile organic material that has evaporated out of the material (only some of which condenses in the CVCM test), so minimizing the difference between TML and WVR is also of considerable importance.

To illustrate, we can look at the most recent outgassing data completed on a few popular low temperature fluorocarbon materials. Table 1 contains the results from a 3rd party laboratory to measure the outgassing properties of VM125-75 and VX065-75. Both had undetectable amounts of CVCM and very small differences between TML and WVR.  VX065-75 in particular displayed remarkably little outgassing as well as a low WVR.

table { font-family: arial, sans-serif; border-collapse: collapse; width: 100%; } td, th { border: 1px solid #dddddd; text-align: center; padding: 8px; } tr:nth-child(even) { background-color: #ffb91d; }   Limit VM125 VX065 Total Mass Loss (TML, %) 1.00 % max 0.48 0.15 Collected Volatile Condensable Material (CVCM, %) 0.10% max <0.01 <0.01 Water Vapor Regain (WVR, %) Report 0.39 0.17

There are a few additional resources detailing seal materials that are known for having low weight loss. The O-Ring Handbook ORD 5700, Table 3-19 (page 65 of the pdf), has a few legacy materials with weight loss percent after a two-week exposure to 1 x 10-6 torr vacuum level, at room temperature. Additionally, non-Parker resources such as the NASA website contain an interesting summary of a much broader range of materials.  

For more information on low outgassing seal materials, please contact a Parker Application Engineer at or 859-335-5101.


Dorothy Kern, applications engineering manager, Parker O-Ring & Engineered Seals DivisionThis article was contributed by Dorothy Kern, applications engineering manager, Parker O-Ring & Engineered Seals Division.






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