Author Topic: Floating Hydro Generator or ??  (Read 8907 times)

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PNW_Steve

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Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« on: January 23, 2016, 10:06:14 AM »
Hello Everyone,

I am new to the board and have thoroughly enjoyed all of the great info that the community has assembled.

I found this board while researching options for a hydro project at my home. My lot backs up to a year round creek that has plenty of flow but no usable head.

The creek level and flow vary hugely depending on season/weather. I have not measured the difference but would estimate that the water level varies over 20' at extremes. I have attached pictures taken in September (low) and late November (high but not max) showing the variance. In the second pic you can still see some rocks above the water in the creek. At the highest water levels they are not visible.

Where the creek passes my place it is running through a canyon that is quite steep on my side. Pretty much straight down for 25'+ in the summer. During winter storms the water coms up to within 3'-5' of the top of the bank.

As I have no usable head I am looking at some sort of undershot wheel or a submersed device. Given that the water level varies drastically I don't see any reasonable method of employing a conventional fixed water wheel so I have been looking at options that float.

I found an interesting option here: http://www.hydro-electric-barrel.com/

As far as I can find it is not commercially available so I though I may give a shot at building something based on a 55 gallon poly barrel. Perhaps using metal corner flashing attached to the exterior of the barrel for paddles?

I don't want to reinvent the wheel :) Have any of you tinkered with this sort of thing? Tips? Suggestions? Ideas?

Can you suggest a better alternative? My original idea was to build paddle wheels using bicycle wheels and place one in each side of a kayak....

Any input is appreciated.

Thanks

Steve

Harold in CR

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2016, 02:34:16 PM »

 Check out this youtube video

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4scG3cuL7I

PNW_Steve

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2016, 09:34:31 PM »
Cool video.


PNW_Steve

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2016, 09:08:25 AM »
Anyone have any thoughts or experience regarding an install of this sort?

Thanks.

S.

PNW_Steve

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2016, 10:12:14 AM »
Back to the original idea....

How about a pair of these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-26-48V-1000W-Electric-Bicycle-Motor-Hub-Front-Wheel-Conversion-Kit-Set-/201453686831?hash=item2ee793502f:g:FDUAAOSw~bFWIfpe

One on each side of a kayak or similar float with the tires removed and appropriately sized paddles?

I have to include this link.... I couldn't help but chuckle..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spAxoOrC4PA

Bruce S

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2016, 12:57:16 PM »
Do a search for oztules, Nando or frackers.
One of them has in the recent past , built a hydro with similar water issues.
Sorry I couldn't be better help
The VID of the e-bike wheel was neat! Only think I would say is to remember that taking a volt reading unloaded only means it's working and not what the resulting output is going to be.
His next VID should be  where he hooks up the output from the wheel with meter set to current, then to a semi-depleted battery . This will show an output of the unit "under load"
 
Best of luck!
Bruce S
A kind word often goes unsaid BUT never goes unheard

PNW_Steve

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2016, 03:43:22 PM »
Do a search for oztules, Nando or frackers.
One of them has in the recent past , built a hydro with similar water issues.
Sorry I couldn't be better help
The VID of the e-bike wheel was neat! Only think I would say is to remember that taking a volt reading unloaded only means it's working and not what the resulting output is going to be.
His next VID should be  where he hooks up the output from the wheel with meter set to current, then to a semi-depleted battery . This will show an output of the unit "under load"
 
Best of luck!
Bruce S

Thanks Bruce,

I understand the open circuit performance is not a good indicator of performance under load. I didn't get that far into the video..... For some reason all of those spoons neatly attached to the bicycle wheel struck my as funny... I couldn't stop laughing and missed a good bit of the video. Nothing wrong with the idea. It just tickled my funny bone.

I tinkered with my calculator a bit and if I got the math right: with a 20" rim and a 4mph water flow I should see around 132rpm on the water wheel. I read somewhere that the 26" e-bikes top out at around 10mph. That would be about 120rpm on the 26" wheel.

That makes me think that if I started with the 1000watt motor intended for the 26" e-bike and retrofit to a 20" rim that I would be at a good starting point to make it play.

Thanks for the direction on the other threads. I will take a look.

MattM

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2016, 08:29:24 PM »
So figure your 4 mph flow is 352 feet a minute.  If you want 132 rpm then you need an 10" wheel at near maximum efficiency.  Correct my quick calculations if you disagree.

352 feet divided by 132 rpm leaves 2.667 feet a minute tangential velocity.  Diameter figures out just over 10" when you divide 2.667 by 3.14
« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 08:33:47 PM by MattM »

MAL

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2016, 01:26:44 AM »
Hi steve,

I have been considering the same concept.  I am on a slow moving river, about 4 or 5 mph...your flow looks much faster than that.  My idea is to use two barrels connected end to end like a rolling pin...and if more tork is needed, I could add two more barrels in a twin axial design and so on until the tork is sufficient to run a good size axial flux generator. The precise Rpm would be achieved by using the proper gear ratio. I could theoretically create any tork and any RPM that I wanted, but I am no athority on the subject.  I believe that I will be better off using 30 gallon barrels to achieve higher RPM.  Instead of using metal blades you should consider using other barrels cut in sections...I believe the curved paddles will be more efficient and less costly.

 The hard part for me has been deciding on how to design the generator.  This site is full of great info and helpfull people, but it has been kind of overwhelming trying to choose the size and specs that I need to power my home. 

Dave

MattM

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2016, 07:55:41 AM »
Your torque shouldn't vary much, considering it's a function of water flow velocity and the diameter of your waterwheel.  Flow velocity should be relatively constant and you're more or less limited in paddle design by the Benz Limit.  Once you figure your rotation rate you should be able to figure out surface of your paddling and water flow coupled to a modest efficiency factor and aim for a design within those parameters.

MAL

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2016, 07:43:35 PM »
Hi Matt,

 I am not sure what you mean when you say that my tork is limited, unless I have a different definition of tork than you do.  My tork potential is only limited by the size of the Mississippi river...well...and the Corp of Engineers.

The concept is that 2 barrels have twice as much tork than 1 does... 4 barrels have twice as much tork than 2...8 barrels have twice as much tork than 4...and so on, but that is not accounting for losses.  I am not sure how the Benz limit works, but if I have a eight 30 gallon barrels on 4 axials with five 2 ft paddles on each barrel,that are made from 55 gallon barrels.  How much tork do I have?  If the radious is measured from the water to the center of the axial, it should be about 5 inches.  My rotation will be between 70 and 90 RPM depending on river level.

Like most peolpe I get confused with the scientific methodology.  I look at it from annother perspective.  I can build a floating water wheel at literally any RPM that I need, but what size of rotor and how many coils and magnets  should I put on my axial flux...and what RPM would make my axial flux feel comfortable?  So what I am strugling to figure out is, what size of a generator will power my home when I am currently using about 1500 kwh?  I am thinking that I want a generator capable of 3000 kwh.  If 8  barrels does not have enough tork. then I need to rethink my options. 

Thanks for your reply, I look forward to hearing what you have to say,

Dave

MattM

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2016, 06:28:48 AM »
Until you measure your water velocity it's impossible to gauge anything.  I'd suggest gather the information you can measure and begin a thread solely concerning it.

MAL

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2016, 02:20:55 PM »
Matt

The Mississippi travels at approximatly 5 mph.  In front of my home it is about 4mph, but that can change with river levels.  Low watter can be as low as 2 MPH high water can be as much as 15 mph, but we don't see the extremes very often.  It would be nice to know the how many barrels but that is not my question.  The thread that I started is directly below this one...no replies yet...I am not complaining...just saying.  I will post to it again with more info.

Thanks again
Dave

PNW_Steve

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2016, 11:52:22 AM »
A little more detail on the creek. Here is a pic of it at what is typically the highest level of the season:

skid

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2016, 06:36:47 PM »
Solar panels in the summer when flows are low, and a water wheel in the winter when the rains come...

PNW_Steve

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2016, 09:29:55 AM »
Solar panels in the summer when flows are low, and a water wheel in the winter when the rains come...

 ;D

Good thought... Last year Summer fell on a Saturday and we had a BBQ.

skid

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2016, 12:06:59 PM »
I'm just up the coast from you. I happen to know for a fact that last summer lasted 8 days ;D 

Seriously, if your stream is prone to such large changes in water flow, which it will be in the PNW, it will be bringing down all types of debris during high flows. A floating contraption will act like a large log boom and trap all kinds of flotsam above it... You need something won't block the stream and can be removed, if necessarily, fairly easily. Due to low flows in the summer, panels may be a better option for year round generation.

PNW_Steve

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2016, 02:06:26 PM »
I'm just up the coast from you. I happen to know for a fact that last summer lasted 8 days ;D 

Seriously, if your stream is prone to such large changes in water flow, which it will be in the PNW, it will be bringing down all types of debris during high flows. A floating contraption will act like a large log boom and trap all kinds of flotsam above it... You need something won't block the stream and can be removed, if necessarily, fairly easily. Due to low flows in the summer, panels may be a better option for year round generation.

I was out of town for a week........ :)

As I mentioned above, solar is not a good fit for my location. I really am in a "hole" in the middle of the woods. During the longest days of the year we have around 17 hours of "light" and about 4 hours of direct sunlight. If I climb to the top of the hill, where all of the trees have been cleared, I would get around 14 hours of direct sunlight.

Yes, we do get nasty debris in the creek when it storms. In November we sat in our living room and watched whole trees go by.

That is why I am thinking of something that float and can be hauled out during extreme weather. Using one of the online calculators for undershot wheels I came up with a theoretical capacity for a wheel made from a 55 gallon poly drum, 4" curved paddles and a PM generator of around 490 watts. Based on that I could provide most of my electrical needs with two of them.

When I posted my question I had anticipated finding people already doing this. Or at least had tried it and could tell me what did or didn't work.

Also, to give a better sense of scale, the creek is 6' deep and about 20' across.

Harold in CR

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2016, 02:34:47 PM »

 I have a slightly similar plan with a floating water wheel set up. I took 2 motorcycle front wheels and cut slots in the bead areas and inserted lengthwise split 14" long 4" PVC pipe with end caps. I have 2 gold dredge pontoons that I will mount the wheels one behind the other on the pontoons. Plan is for debris to wash under the pontoons and the wheels will just roll over the debris. I will add "planer" metal plates from under the pontoons ONLY and let them rise above the creek surface by a foot or more. I only get limbs, roots, leaves and such. The pontoons will be dug into the sides of the creek to funnel all the water possible through the wheels and still allow the whole device to rise as the water rises from heavy rains.

  My creek is just a dribble compared to yours, but, I am putting an old rebuilt piston shallow well water pump on the pontoons, and will pump water 100' up a hill into a pond I dug. I know it had a 1/4HP electric motor to drive the pump and figure that much could be produced by the 2 wheels coupled together by MX bicycle chain. I figure it will take 2 weeks of 24 Hour/day pumping to fill the pond, but, in rainy weather, it should do better.

 I am also building 2-3 wind turbines for the drier windy days/weeks.

 That's my plan, anyway and why I posted that link of the floating generator in an earlier post. Trees with stumps and limbs will be your nemesis. Without something to support the barrels you plan on using, I think you will have severe damage IF you are not quick enough or capable to raise up or steer your device out of the water.

PNW_Steve

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Re: Floating Hydro Generator or ??
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2016, 09:16:14 AM »

 I have a slightly similar plan with a floating water wheel set up. I took 2 motorcycle front wheels and cut slots in the bead areas and inserted lengthwise split 14" long 4" PVC pipe with end caps. I have 2 gold dredge pontoons that I will mount the wheels one behind the other on the pontoons. Plan is for debris to wash under the pontoons and the wheels will just roll over the debris. I will add "planer" metal plates from under the pontoons ONLY and let them rise above the creek surface by a foot or more. I only get limbs, roots, leaves and such. The pontoons will be dug into the sides of the creek to funnel all the water possible through the wheels and still allow the whole device to rise as the water rises from heavy rains.

  My creek is just a dribble compared to yours, but, I am putting an old rebuilt piston shallow well water pump on the pontoons, and will pump water 100' up a hill into a pond I dug. I know it had a 1/4HP electric motor to drive the pump and figure that much could be produced by the 2 wheels coupled together by MX bicycle chain. I figure it will take 2 weeks of 24 Hour/day pumping to fill the pond, but, in rainy weather, it should do better.

 I am also building 2-3 wind turbines for the drier windy days/weeks.

 That's my plan, anyway and why I posted that link of the floating generator in an earlier post. Trees with stumps and limbs will be your nemesis. Without something to support the barrels you plan on using, I think you will have severe damage IF you are not quick enough or capable to raise up or steer your device out of the water.

Sounds like you have a good plan underway!

I have also looked at using bicycle wheels as hubs and ploy barrels as floats until I saw the HEB (link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHyrIupXNaM) . That looks much simpler for my application and able to adjust for varying water levels.

As far as debris in the creek goes, it is a concern but fortunately, we get very good warning regarding rising creel levels. The changes in flow are fairly predictable based on the local weather forecast. I don't think that smaller items would be an issue for the barrel in the video.