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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has redesigned the Sensor Fish, a small device deployed to study the conditions faced by fish swimming through hydropower installations. Danger to fish is a major concern when building or refurbishing hydropower facilities. In order to protect fish from harm, researchers must first understand the conditions encountered by fish attempting to navigate spillways and turbine passages. Before the design of the Sensor Fish (funded partly by EERE), biologists and engineers relied on computer models. Now, they can use the Sensor Fish in real-world conditions to measure changes in pressure, acceleration and other measurements as the device moves through hydropower facilities. Information from the new, next-generation Sensor Fish will help improve the design of fish-friendly turbines, lessen the risk of injury to fish, and improve the survival rate of fish populations.

The Water Power Program is committed to developing and deploying a portfolio of innovative technologies for clean, domestic power generation from resources such as hydropower, waves, and tides.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.

Project Overview

Positive Impact

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s recent redesign of the Sensor Fish has proven valuable for providing otherwise unobtainable information about the physical conditions in the water passages of hydropower-turbines.




Pacific Northwest National Laboratory(PNNL), United States Army Corps of Engineers

EERE Investment


Clean Energy Sector

Renewable electricity generation