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NSERC Presents 2 Minutes With Claire Deschênes
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Université Laval in Partnership with the Consortium on Hydraulic Machines


Video Name

2 Minutes with Claire Deschênes


NSERC Communications



Release Date

February 17, 2015


Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of clean, renewable hydroelectric power. Staying at the forefront of hydroelectric technology is critical to meet our country’s growing energy demands with efficient, sustainable hydroelectricity. That means upgrading aging machinery and modernizing the technology behind hydropower generation to improve the performance and reliability of equipment used in hydroelectric plants. The partnership between Dr. Deschênes and the Consortium on Hydraulic Machines earned the researcher one of NSERC's Synergy Awards for Innovation in 2014.

Claire Deschênes

Hydroelectricity in Canada represents $20 billion per year for the Canadian economy. Hydroelectricity is also a form of green energy. Therefore, it’s important to continue developing it, especially in a context where our electricity consumption is increasing. In fact, we are privileged in Canada to have three of the biggest manufacturers and installers of hydraulic turbines in the world: Voith Hydro, Andritz Hydro, Alstom Énergie and Hydro-Québec, which has the world’s largest research centre on hydroelectricity.

Anne-Marie Giroux

We generate more than 99 % of our energy from hydraulic turbines. They are extremely complex machines. In fact, each time we have a new power plant, a new turbine is built according to the specific characteristics of the site where it will be installed. To better understand hydraulic turbines and to better use them, we are looking to build a virtual laboratory that enables us to analyze everything that goes on in the turbines under the different conditions to which they are subjected.

Claire Deschênes

At the university level, our mission is to train students and to perform research that is slightly more fundamental. Therefore, from time to time, we will work on the numerical calculation codes and engage in activities that are a bit more upstream than what is done in industry. Industry also requires calculation codes that are validated and calibrated and that they can trust. Therefore, to achieve this, we need experimental measurements that are taken in the laboratory. The impact that is most concrete as of now, from a scientific perspective, is the creation of two test cases, one for the AxialT project, and one project for the BulbT, which are in fact databases that have significant value.

Anne-Marie Giroux

The experimental data are essential, but they are extremely rare. Therefore, we will certainly use these databases for a long time in our team, with the direct goal of improving our simulation methods. Presently, improving our simulation methods will help us make more concrete impacts to Hydro-Québec Production. In fact, Hydro-Québec has a culture that really promotes open innovation. We often work with external groups. We are convinced that this enables us to improve our capacity to deliver and to accelerate innovation.

Claire Deschênes

Finally, today, we are part of a research centre that is internationally recognized for its large, low-head turbines.