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Computational Model-based Assessment of Biological Performance of Hydropower Turbines 


The Biological Performance Assessment (BioPA) toolset informs the design and operation of hydropower turbines by relating computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models of hydraulic conditions to known impacts to fish to inform the design and operation of hydropower turbines. BioPA evaluates hydropower turbine designs and operations based on several injury mechanisms to fish, including rapid decompression, shear, strike, and turbulence.

BioPA estimates the relative risk of adverse effects that fish may experience during turbine passage. It evaluates the effect hydropower turbines will have on biological performance by providing a relative index score for fish injury and mortality. These scores can then be used to compare competing turbine designs, refine a new design, or evaluate the performance of an existing hydropower turbine. Not only does this information allow for better informed hydropower turbine design and operations but this tool can considerably reduce time and cost necessary for prototype-scale testing. 


What species can be evaluated using BioPA?

BioPA can currently be used to evaluate the biological performance of hydropower turbines on over 20 species of fish including Chinook salmon, American eel, American shad, bluegill, largemouth bass, and rainbow trout. PNNL can incorporate additional biological response models in future versions of BioPA. 


Who uses BioPA?

BioPA can be used by hydropower owners/operators, turbine manufacturers, and other hydropower stakeholders when making decisions about hydroturbine design and operations. This toolset can be used for a wide variety of actions, including optimizing the biological performance of current operating conditions and identify hydroturbine designs that have reduced impacts on fish during downstream passage. For more information on specific applications of BioPA, please visit the Applications page and the Library.

The hydropower turbine types currently supported are Kaplan and Francis.

Currently, licenses for BioPA are held by Andritz Hydro, Voith, and Natel Energy.



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BioPA computer requirements:

  • Microsoft Windows 7 or 10
  • Microsoft Excel 2010 
  • CFD software output. Star-CCM+, ANSYS CFX, and Fluent have been tested.



Interested in using BioPA?