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A salmon enters a Whooshh 'salmon cannon' on Washington state's White River. Photo: Whooshh innovations.
A salmon enters a Whooshh ‘salmon cannon’ on Washington state’s White River. Photo: Whooshh.

Hydroelectric energy is hugely important to Washington state. It accounts for about one third of Washington’s energy consumption, more than any other energy source, and dams power jobs all over the state.

But these dams can be a huge problem for another important part of Washington’s industry: salmon.

Enter the “Salmon Cannon,” a fish-shooting device developed by Bellevue, Wash., based Whooshh Innovations that can send Salmon flying over any dams in their path.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Department of Energy to study the cannon. The tech is currently classified as “experimental,” but if the study finds it to be safe and effective it could be labeled for use at dams around the country.

In a video on the Whooshh Web site, Todd Deligan, vice president of fish transport, notes that they are hoping to “provide a new platform from which to think about fish passage.”

The company adds that its system “depends on gentle pressure differentials to ‘whooshh’ fish through a soft, flexible tube to their destination.”

PNNL has studied the cannon before, but not with this scope. Check it out in action:

The grant comes from the Department of Energy’s Small Business Vouchers Pilot, which funds independent studies on tech developed by small businesses. This year’s 41 recipients included two other Seattle area startups: Bothell-based Neah Power Systems and Seattle’s Oscilla Power, whose tech uses energy from ocean waves to generate power.

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