EERE Success Story—Innovative "French Dam" Cuts Cost and Construction Time

November 29, 2016

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Precast Dam Structure | Photo Courtesy French Development Enterprises

Precast Dam Structure | Photo Courtesy French Development Enterprises

With Energy Department support, French Development Enterprises, LLC, GEI Consultants, and Oldcastle Precast announced the successful construction of the first prototype of a “French Dam.”The prototype technology uses modular design—a term for structures that use multiple standardized components that integrate easily— to significantly cut construction time and cost.

The “French Dam” is delivered to a hydropower site in precast segments, which can be added to new or existing hydroelectric dams, water control systems, and power houses. Replacing traditional dam construction methods, the “French Dam” significantly reduces project duration. Developers can commission a precast dam in a fraction of the time required with traditional construction methods.

The 24-foot long and 16-foot high prototype is composed of six precast blocks—each weighing 27,000 pounds and measuring 8 feet on each side—which were anchored to a foundation.

Crews assembled the dam in less than three and a half hours using the modular technology that is designed so that capacity and function can be easily scaled. This standardization and modularization saves money on all stages of the construction process.

French Development’s technology was funded under the Energy Department’s HydroNEXT initiative, which invests in the development of innovative technologies that lower cost, improve performance, and promote environmental stewardship of hydropower development.

The Water Power Technologies Office is committed to developing and deploying a portfolio of innovative technologies for domestic power generation from resources such as hydropower, waves, and tides. Learn more about the Energy Department’s hydropower research and development initiatives.