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Micro Hydro projects  RSS feed

 
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Scott,...so I'm a Newbie here.Just joined up.I have been interested in this subject for years and I just cant shake the bug and I need to delve into this and I have a few interesting projects I wish to do within my property here in Western Maryland.I have a number of springs on the property,with 1 located on top of a small hill that constantly has a decent flow regardless of how dry the season may become.The drop down the hill to a area I have been clearing out in very thick tangled neglected woods(making into a small campground area and nature site) is substantial. I can capture the water at the top of the hill where I have created a crude pond.I have a 1000 gallon concrete tank inside a shed that captures the water coming out of the bank and discharges into front of the Pond.From there,I have also made a crude natural waterway that the water follows down the hill to the "Campsite",where I have created a few smaller ponds as simple water accents.
So,..here is my thoughts. Since I have no electric in either spots,since it is appox 300 -400 feet from nearest electric...I think it is a good chance I could employ micro-hydro to give me electric power for a pond pump and such at the top of the hill(maybe even solar panels on top of shed roof) and electric at the bottom/campsite for minor lights,pond pumps of some sort or accent lights at the very least.
I would like to see if you could possibly assist me in "learning the ropes" so to speak and teach me how to move forward?
I know I need to figure out the drop from top of hill to campsite first and the amount of water coming out of the hill.
Correct?
What sort of micro hydro turbines are available? What goes along with that to store the energy created?
Ken
 
pollinator
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Location: northern New Mexico
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Sounds like a fun project. I always wanted to try microhydro, but our little river is far from our house. I believe the alternator needs to be close to the use area otherwize a step up transformer would be needed for electricity to travel far.It sounds like you'll use the power generated nearby the power-head, so that simplifies the design. I found a resource for reading material for you if you haven't looked into the basics  already. Microhydro
Determine flow and head along with what you've already got happening with wate storage and I think you are on your way.  
  Have you already measured the flow? I've done simple flow tests in my aquaponics system by filling as many five gallon buckets in one minute then converting the results to gallons per minute. You can do this at each season and log the results. I believe once you have some data logged you will have what you need to determine pipe size, turbine design, and output in kilowatt hours.
  Conversely, you can buy an inexpensive turbine throw down some pipe work and play with it, logging your results over time. One of the really cool things about microhydro is it is on all the time, thus the need for storage in a campsite setting isn't really needed to run some lights. Some type of power regulator to stabilize the output whether you have a battery bank or not will be needed. Adding batteries and a charge controller to the system makes it a viable and reliable energy source.  
I hope that helps.
Brian      
 
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Hi Ken;  Welcome to Permies!
Brian ,covered the basics for you let me see if I can expand some on that.
I have been living with micro hydro for over 20 years and I have been off the power grid since 1983.

I'm a little confused about your setup )(lol normal for me) You have a good year round spring on top of a hill and you are clearing its path or a path thru the brush down to your campsite ?
You have a 1000 gallon tank somewhere , I think at the bottom??? This needs to be on top of the hill to be helpful in making power.
Your wondering how much power might be available?
Is there a house ? Or just a tent/ camping  spot ?
Brian headed you in the right direction, we need numbers.  
To start we need a distance from the top of the hill to your spot., Next is this spot directly downstream or off on a tangent?  (i.e.) Can the waste water from the hydro easily get back into the stream ???
You MUST have a way for your unpressurized waste water to go away.  The amount of fall can be determined by pressure. The amount of flow needs a pipe to determine.
Piping your water downhill for a hydro is not as straight forward as just supplying drinking water.  Hard white pvc has external connectors that do not slow the flow.  It must be carefully installed properly bedded or it will crack.  Black Poly pipe is much more commonly used, it can be tossed in a shallow ditch and avoid obstacles that a ridged pipe can't. It has internal connectors , these will catch debris over time and they will plug up. (I have to use a large diesel air comp almost every year to blow mine backwards to clear it) I have 2200' of line with 300' vertical drop.
Depending on the distance it has to travel, water running thru enclosed lines experiences "line loss" (that is friction inside the line).  Literally if you took a 1/2" line and tried running it down hill after a unknown distance it would just stop flowing !!! Amazing.  To defeat this you need larger lines. Mine is 1.5" . It can also be defeated by changing line size part way down hill. (i.e.) start with 1'  go 150' change to 1.25 " go another 150' switch back to 1" ... this eliminates the friction effect.  
O.K.) So we have now piped water at the bottom , we have a place for that water to go after it runs thru the hydro. Flow can be determined with a 5 gal bucket or a 55 gal barrel no matter. You need to know how much water is up on top of the hill. It may look like a lot but might be easy to overrun. This is what the flow rate will tell you. My spring is a high head low flow. Lots of pressure 125 psi at the house, but I can only pull apx 3-4 gal per minute or I start draining the 400 gal tank and the then line ...eventually I see a power loss down below.. The best hydro would be high head high flow , possible you have that but it is more likely you are in the middle.  
On to hydro units,  I use a Harris permanent magnet hydro with a stainless steel pelton wheel. Grit coming down line ate up the bronze wheels that most hydro's come with. Harris hydro has been around a very long time, they certainly are not the only manufacturer of micro hydro's but are probably one of the most used . I recommend it. Micro hydro's come with nozzel options, 1 to 4 nozzels spraying water at your pelton.This is why you need flow information to choose the correct size unit to order.

Location) I see you were hoping for your hydro to be on top of the hill... not fesable... unless its a river and you produse A/C power not D/C ) Thats also not happening or you would need to register your hydro with the federal goverment. They ignore micro hydro D/C .. but they want a cut if you are making mucho A/C power off of "THEIR" water.  A/C power can be transmited long distance with small wire and minimal loss...D/C power must be right there or you could not get large enough wire to transmit it long distance.

Now this is IMPORTANT) A hydro must ALWAYS be connected to a battery bank or it will over voltage itself and fry in short order!!!  There is NO avoiding this! It must ALWAYS be connected.  A solar set up can be disconnected anytime with no issues . Solar charge controlers maintain battery voltage by conect / disconect cycles . This would fry a hydro in less than an hour. For hydro power and for wind power you must use a constant diverion charge control and have a place to dump up to 95 % of all your power prodused without disconecting from the hydro....

I hope I haven't overloaded you with info or worse that I scared you off from investigating the possabilitys. Making your own power is very liberating, its a wonderful thing when your home is lit up while all your neigbors are not...and NO POWER BILL is very cool!
I know a lot about this , if you have more specific question feel free to ask
 
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Here's some videos of a 15Kw turbine generator which only requires 24 inches of fall. This brilliant concept relies on circular vortex flow rather than on drop.





I don't see any reason why this simple idea wouldn't work at any scale. It's not even that complicated to fabricate on your own. We don't have any running water where we live so it's moot for us, but if we did I'd be all over this in an instant!
 
Ken Shippee
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Brian and Thomas,...thank you both for all the info and guidance you have just sent me. I am very interested in all you both have said and will go over this all a number of times and digest and learn what it all means. I am caught up in many things relevant to the Christmas season right now and involved in all the things that need to get done.
As I get a few brief times in between to catch my breath,I will come in and go over this and reach out to you guys for clarity and questions.
Hope I dont  wear out my welcome that way ! :>)   Got a lot to learn and I am not one to give up.I want to pursue these project and will figger it out and I am gratefull for you all of you with your time and help and knowledge...
Ken
 
Ken Shippee
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Thanks Greg! I'll check it out...
 
pollinator
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Greg what a wonderful find. I esp like how it doesn't harm fish + self-cleaning.

https://www.turbulent.be/technology/
Power(kW) = Head x Flow X Gravity X efficiency
15kW = 1.5m x 1.5m3/s X 9.8 X efficiency
15kW = 22kW x efficiency
Efficiency = 15/22 = 68% that overall system efficiency is pretty nice.

Head/Vortex = 1.5m = 5ft
Flow = 1.5m3/s = 400gallons/second = 2,400gallon/minute.
That really is a river and not spring

Can you send me a link with the vortex/head/fall of just 24in aka 0.6m.
I company I found is saying 5ft aka 1.5m


Ken lets throw some numbers around.
Flow = 6gal/min
Head = 10ft
Power(W) = Flow X Head X 11.32
Power(W) = 6 * 10 * 11.32
Power(W) = 679W

So in 24hr you would have generated 16.2kWHr.
But lets say you only have an overall 50% efficiency, so now just 8.1kWHr every day.  
I think that is more than enough to power 10W LED bulbs, 5W cellphone, 20W laptop and 150W vacuum cooker (GoSun Fusion).

Even with just 1gal/min aka 113W or 1.2kWHr per day.  You could power
Four 10W LED bulbs for 4hours = 160WHr
Four 5W Cellphones for 2hours = 40WHr
Four 20W Laptop for 4hours = 320WHr
Three 150W Vacuum Cooker for 40min = 300WHr
One 33W Tiny Fridge 25% duty (6hrs) = 200WHr
Total = 1.2kWHr per day
 
Greg Mamishian
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S Bengi wrote:Greg what a wonderful find. I esp like how it doesn't harm fish + self-cleaning.



I love to see elegantly simple ideas like that. If someone was going to build one to experiment, they could pour a flat slab with a hole for the impeller and then arrange loose cinderblocks and move them around in order to find out the optimum profile to make the hole swirl the most freely with the least amount of water. Although I'll never use this design as we have no flowing water, I have been interested in flow design for years and built and dyno tested this aluminum intake manifold for my car.





 
Brian Rodgers
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Greg Mamishian wrote:

S Bengi wrote:Greg what a wonderful find. I esp like how it doesn't harm fish + self-cleaning.



I love to see elegantly simple ideas like that. If someone was going to build one to experiment, they could pour a flat slab with a hole for the impeller and then arrange loose cinderblocks and move them around in order to find out the optimum profile to make the hole swirl the most freely with the least amount of water. Although I'll never use this design as we have no flowing water, I have been interested in flow design for years and built and dyno tested this aluminum intake manifold for my car.






Oh man that's sweet looking Greg. How did it test out?
Brian
 
Greg Mamishian
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Brian Rodgers wrote:Oh man that's sweet looking Greg. How did it test out?
Brian



It works pretty good.



The concept was to build an intake manifold which allows the engine to produce more torque at lower rpms in order to increase gas mileage. It's not for high performance and only produced a couple more horsepower. The runners are quite a bit longer than the stock intake manifold. This alters the timing of the reflected intake pulses and tunes them to optimize intake volume at lower rpms than the stock manifold. All stock intake manifolds have a plenum, which is a large common chamber from which all of the intake runners draw. This manifold is unique in that it has no plenum so the runners are all aimed directly at the throttle body draw directly from it.

The best gas mileage I got with it was all freeway driving at 52.3 mpg. Just putting around town with no freeway driving the average is 38 mpg. The engine pulls stronger at lower rpms so it can be shifted at lower rpms. The little Toyota is just an economy car and not a performance vehicle.

I built and sold enough of them to cover all of the R&D costs plus a nice profit which was rolled into the next hobby project. Also got a free manifold for our car which has been in use for about 4 years now.





 
Fire me boy! Cool, soothing, shameless self promotion:
Got a New Homestead? Here is What You Need to Know to Before You Start a Homestead
https://permies.com/t/97104/Starting-homestead-strong-foundation
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