Our Finished Micro Hydro Project

Renewable Energy: Micro-hydro Generator Lab Report
By Nichole Tagliavento and Alexandra Morquette

Abstract:

In this experiment, students Alexandra Morquette and Nichole Tagliavento made a micro-hydro generator. Their goal was to power a hot plate with at most 9 volts of electricity, and boil a cup of water in less than one minute. They were not successful, and only created .02 volts, and their current was .06 amps.

Introduction:

Mechanical energy is needed in order to create electricity and make things work. In simple terms, mechanical energy is the energy that is created by motion. Mechanical energy is also the source for turning a generator. In any generator, you will find a coil of magnet wire and magnets. Without these two things, a generator will not work, meaning it will not be able to create energy. These two materials are so essential to create a successful working generator because a generator works when opposing magnets (a north pole and a north pole, or a south pole and a south pole) repel against each other while the motor is turning. This motion is what creates the electricity. If this motion can be re-created, it is possible to power something without using an already-made generator. For an engineering project in class, I spent hours researching a way to duplicate this motion in a home made generator that I would have to build on my own to power a hot plate. The hot plate would then need to boil a cup of water in less than ten minutes. It was difficult to find a simple yet promising plan that did not involve using a power source, such as a battery or actual generator, to create electricity. After doing days of research and finding ridiculous ideas and some really sensible ones, I decided to focus on creating a micro-hydro turbine to substitute in for a generator.

A micro-hydro turbine is really just a fancy word for something that basically just spins when it comes in contact with moving water. A micro-hydro system works when a certain amount of water goes through a long passageway. As the water goes through this pipe like passageway, it begins to gain speed. Shortly after its ride down the tube, the water is directed towards the blades of the turbine. Since the water is flowing at such a rapid speed, it makes the turbine also spin very quickly. This spinning motion created by the blades of the turbine and the running water creates the mechanical energy needed to create electricity. The turbine is attached, most likely by wires, to an electrical generator, which transfers the energy created by the motion of the turbine into useable energy. With the motion of this turbine, it is possible to power many things; hopefully one of them is a hot plate. In order to find out if this micro-hydro turbine can actually power the hot plate, I am going to need to build one and test it. I will most likely need to test and re-test many times to get it right.

The hypothesis for this experiment is that the micro-hydro turbine will be able to boil one cup of water within one minute, and will make at least 6 volts, because it was well constructed, and well though out.

Materials:

Tools

Electric Drill, with ¼" drill bit
Scissors
Electrical Tape
Ruler
Hot glue gun
White Glue (Elmer's glue)
Utility Knife
Pencil Sharpener
Permanent Marker (Sharpie)
Magnetic Compass/Magnet with labeled poles
Wire Cutters

Materials

Paper Template from http://re-energy.ca/pdf/hydroelectric-generator.pdf
3.78L Plastic Jug
8 Plastic Spoons
1 Medium Sized Gear
Enameled Magnet Wire, 24 Gage
Foamcore
Cardboard
Wooden Dowel (approximately 20 cm in length)
4 Strong Magnets
4 Pieces of Clear Vinyl Tubing
4 Brass Fasteners

Methods:

In order to make this generator successfully, it was simple to follow the steps from HYPERLINK "http://re-energy.ca/pdf/hydroelectric-generator.pdf" http://re-energy.ca/pdf/hydroelectric-generator.pdf . This website gave step by step instructions, but some steps needed to be modified because of the materials that were available. The first and probably easiest step is gluing the rotor and stator disk templates from the packet
on to a piece of cardboard. Using the template is really important because it shows you exactly where everything needs to be placed and how it should be set up. After the glue is
completely dry, cut out the disks using an exacto/utility knife. After they are cut, there should be two perfect disks that will be used to put the magnets and the coils on in future steps. Next, punch a small hole through the middle of the rotor disk (the one where the magnets will be put on) and a larger hole in the stator disk. The templates show the needed sizes of the holes.

For this next part, the disks are not really needed. First, a 3 cm by 16 cm piece of cardboard needs to be cut, folded in half, and then taped with the two halves shut using a piece of electrical tape. This is called a "jig" and it will be used for wrapping the coils around. Once the 24 gage wire is at hand, it is possible to start winding it around the jig. After leaving approximately 10 cm of non used wire on the side, wind the wire about 200 times around the jig. It is essential to make absolute sure that the wire is wound as neatly and carefully as it can be and that the time is taken to wind it correctly the first time. Next, slip the coil off of the jig and wrap at least two pieces of electrical tape around it to secure the coil in place. Don't forget to leave a 10 cm lead of wire on the ending end of the coil too. These steps need to be completed a total of 4 times in order to make the 4 coils. After the coils are made, make sure to have two leads on both ends of them that have the insulation removed from them by using a piece of sandpaper. Make sure to remove all of the insulation from 1 cm of the wire or else the whole project will not work. Do this to all four of the coils. By bringing the stator disk back, arrange the coils on it according to how the stator instructs. It is very important the check the coils and make sure that a counterclockwise coil is placed on the counterclockwise coil spot and a clockwise coil is placed on a clockwise coil spot. Now connect the coils to each other by twisting the pieces of wire that were sand papered off together, leaving the last wire on the two end coils unattached to anything. Using a multi-meter set on resistance (ohms), check the connections of the coils. There should be about 10 ohms of less of resistance. If there is more, check and fix the coils until there are 10 ohms or less. Once they are perfect and the resistance is good, glue them to the stator using a hot glue gun. In between each of the coils cut a small slit using the utility knife.

Once all four of the magnets are obtained, check their poles using either a magnetic compass or a magnet with labeled poles. Once the poles have been determined, hot glue them to the rotor disk putting a magnet with a North pole on the N and a South pole on the S by using the template. Make sure they alternate.
In order to create a dowel that is the right size, cut it down until it is only 20 cm long by using a saw. Using the large hole in a pencil sharpener, sharpen both ends of the dowel until they have a dull point.

With 8 plastic spoons and a gear, it is time to create the actual turbine. The ends of each spoon need to be cute down with the wire cutters, leaving about 1 cm on the bottoms. Any circular material is able to be used, but a gear works best because it already has a
hole in it. Next, hot glue each of the bottoms of the spoons onto the gear, and space them apart so there is an equal distance between each spoon. Before the gluing begins, make sure that the turbine will fit into the bottle with each of the spoons attached to it.
Once all these steps are done, the whole project can be put together. Start by cutting the bottom off of the jug. Measure the middle of the bottle on each side using a ruler and mark it with a marker or pen. Drill a hole the size of you dowel right on each of the marks. Over one of the holes, lay the stator disk down so that the hole in the disk goes over the hole in the jug. Cut 4 slits in the jug aligned with those on the disk using a utility knife. Obtain the 4 brass fasteners and put them through all of the slits, attaching the stator disk to the jug.

To finish up the project, cut the pieces of vinyl tubing up so that they are about 1 cm long. Slide the dowel into the jug through the hole in the stator and slide one of the pieces of tubing on to it inside of the jug. Next, slide the turbine onto the dowel, and then slide
another piece of tubing on the other side of the turbine so it cannot move from side to side. Make sure that the turbine can still spin inside of the jug, and if the spoons are too long, trim the tops of them until it fits correctly. Next, slide the rotor disk on the dowel so that the magnets are over the coils, but not directly on top of them. Make sure that the rotor can spin with the dowel and adjust the angle if necessary. Hot glue the disk to the dowel to make sure it is secure, and you are complete!
Start testing!

Results:

The micro-hydro generator did not have enough voltage to power the hot plate, thus was incapable of boiling the water. There was only .02 volts that were created, and the current was at 6.1 amps. It was not even powerful enough to light an LED or a light bulb.

Conclusions:

Overall, this experiment did not go as planned. The hypothesis was not correct because it did not produce enough voltage to power the hot plate, and did not boil a cup of water. What caused the micro-hydro generator not to follow the hypothesis is that there was something wrong with the way the magnets and the magnet wire were set together, because the magnets did spin around the magnet wire like they were supposed to, but nothing happened. There must have been a problem with the way the coils were spun, or even how the magnets were placed.

During this experiment, many things were learned, like how electricity is created. Learning about it, and experimenting with it in real life, is two different things completely, because there are many different ways to make electricity with a specific generator. The micro-hydro generator had water magnets spinning around coil, which is one way to create electricity, because when a magnetic field and coil come together, electricity is made. Although, there has to be some sort of movement going on in order to get a product out of the combination, and this is called mechanical energy. Mechanical energy is energy made when an object has motion. The water would be the first source of mechanical energy, because it is moving through the generator. When the moving water hits the spoons, it causes that to spin. It is like a chain reaction, so more then one part is moving and where the end result is another kind of energy: electricity.

One of the most important things that were learned was to take your time, and make quality work. When you don’t have quality work, it can really effect how your results come out, and determines if your project even works or not. A few things did happen that affected how well the generator would have worked. For example, in the original design for the micro-hydro, there was a cork being used to attach the spoon turbines too. Instead, a small gear was used, and the spoons would be glued to that. Although it worked just the same, the gear ended up being too big to put inside of the bottle with the spoons on it. Since that did not work, another one was made, but with a smaller gear. When trying to fit that one into the bottle, it still did not fit. There was nothing smaller to use, so the tips of the spoons were cut. That did allow to turbine to fit into the bottle, but the tops of the
spoons were splitting a little bit, because the plastic was curved, and not made to be cut like that. With split tips on the turbine, water might slip through the spoons, and not catch as much water. With less water pushing the turbine, mechanical energy is lost. Using the
gear instead of the cork also could have affected the results, because the hole where the dowel went through the gear was a bit too big. When the dowel would spin, the turbine would not as much, and when the turbine would spin, the dowel would not move a lot, because they were slipping. Clear tubing was put on each side of the turbine on the dowel to try to stop it from slipping, but that didn’t work. Then, the turbine was hot glued down to the dowel, and that made the turbine hold on to the dowel without moving. Another thing that went wrong, and could have changed the results, is that the dowel was glued to the bottle on one end, when it was not supposed to be. The glue was taken off afterwards, but some of it was still stuck on the dowel, and could not be taken off. The dowel can still move, but it does not move as freely as it is supposed too.

If this generator would have been done again, there would have been improvement made to make sure that it worked better, and gotten better results. Measurements would have been taken, so it would be clear whether or not everything would fit where they are supposed to go. Stronger magnets and better coil would also be used, to make sure there would be the truest results possible. Lastly, more time would have been taken to make the micro-hydro generator, so small mistakes would have not been made, and there would be more quality work.

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