Instructables

Paper cup hydro electric generator

ok so when submitting my water pump instructable i saw the competion for paper coffee cups, this gave me some ideas but the closing date is the 9th, today is the 9th (at 2.26am) so i dont have time to get hold of a bunch of paper coffee cups and i dont think it would be in the spirt of the thing just to get a load and waste them. so i have done some diagrams to demostrate my idea.

its the basic water wheel system based on the Haris design of wheel used in hydro electric dams.

 
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Step 1: Starts with a bicycle wheel

ok so you take a basic Bicycle wheel a mountain bike one would be ideal as the channel is wider where the inner tube goes, also would be better to use a larger wheel say 26" or more but it will have to be steel so you can weld it.

you need to weld the spindel to the main wheel so when it spins it spins the wheel with it not just the spindel on its own, you could take this out and replace it with a long rod which will go off to our generator.

Step 2: Attach the generator

you now need to attach the generator, if you replaced the spindel with a rod then it will be nice and long so the wheel is away from the generator as we dont want the generator getting wet. if you havnt it would be good to attach a longer bar to the wheel and then to the generator.

the generator is a simple car alternator, i would recommend putting this inside a rabbit hutch or something simlar, just drill a hole in side and poke the rod through this will keep the rain and splash back from the wheel off the generator.

Step 3: Adding the cups

Now you need to hot glue the cups at slight angles around the wheel so that they will catch the water as it falls. hot glue these to the wheel as well as the cup next to it.

by using hot glue it means it wont react with the water and go mushy like some glues would.

Step 4: Placement

you now need to place the wheel, i would recomend placing this over a body of water such as a pond.

place a flume above the wheel so that the end comes past the center of the wheel, guttering is ideal for this.

you will need a water source as well, ideally you would have a stream running through your garden so you could use that to channel water down your flume and run your wheel.

so it works by water coming down the flume, hitting the wheel, the weight and force of the water turn the wheel generating electricity through our alternator which can be hooked up to charge car batterys or leisure batterys for cars, electric fences (if your on a farm), or for other projects, you could even hook you phone up to it to charge it by water power.

i would like to make another suggestion, if you channel the drain pipe from you house to the flume the rain water collected from your house can be used in the wheel and then you could channel it to a water butt or drain. this would work really well here in the UK where we have a fair bit of rain.

how much power does this generate?
n1cod3mus (author)  jimmerforpoy4 years ago
Well that really depends on the alternator you use, the rate of water, the size of the wheel. it would be restricted by the amount the alternator can put out so if your using a Car alternator then 12v or a truck alternator 24v
 Could you do this with a small alternator so this could be very cheap?
like this
or this?
n1cod3mus (author)  Houdinipeter4 years ago
i cant see why not, you would need to scale down the wheel or maybe gear it as you wouldnt be able to connect directly to it, in fact if you gear it you should get more power out of it as you can make more revolutions per a single revolution of the large wheel.
 because this concept design would be even better if it was super cost effective and could be easily invested in by people with gutters.
n1cod3mus (author)  Houdinipeter4 years ago
it is super cost efective, it uses an old bike wheel, coffee cups and a old car alternator from a scrap yard how much more cost effective could it be?
 I assumed an old car alternator costs money.. And it needs to be pretty i guess..  Just thinking out the idea. Need to fail to succeed.
n1cod3mus (author)  Houdinipeter4 years ago
a lot less than the $47 for the alternators you have listed, i wasnt thinking about pretty when i came up with the concept, and you can put the alternator in a housing as i suggested so it will look like a mill house or something
Kiteman4 years ago
Coffee cups do eventually go mushy - I would varnish these to prevent that happening, or use plastic coffee cups instead.


Yes, that's a serious problem, since I don't think it would last more than a few minutes unless it was waterproofed somehow.

It's an interesting idea though.
n1cod3mus (author)  sfcsarah4 years ago
paper coffee cups in the UK are coated with a kind of waxy plastic so i think it would last a fair while. but i think Kiteman is right they would need to be coated in varnish or laquer or something or you could use plastic cups, the only reason paper cups are suggested is because of the coffee cup comp theres no reason you couldnt adapt it to your needs ;-)
If you've ever left a McD cup to stand too long, you'll know they eventually leak, and the waxy stuff is only on the inside anyway.

n1cod3mus (author)  Kiteman4 years ago
that is true and i have done that before, however, the cup will not have fluid in it for long as its tipped out almost instantly, in fact there is a great time where the cup is empty than full. but as you say it would still go mushy, but i have come up with a use for the mushy cups as per my above comments, plus you could as you said coat them in something such as varnish. have you noticed though that the McD cups only ever leak from the seal as the cups are made in 2 parts the top section forming the body and the bottom section forming the base, its the connection between the 2 that leaks, if you put a bit of silicone bathroom sealent round the base this would not happen and the cups would last longer.
n1cod3mus (author)  n1cod3mus4 years ago
in fact thinking about this, and just because im slightly sad lol, i might get 2 McD cups and put sealant in the bottom of one and not in the other fill them and put them in seperate buckets, check them daily and see which on leaks first lol
n1cod3mus (author)  Kiteman4 years ago
yet another thought on mushy cups thats just come to mind, you can get those presses which turn leaves in to logs to burn, just put the mushy cups in one of them compress it to remove the water and make a log once dry use it to warm your house!
n1cod3mus (author)  Kiteman4 years ago
ive just had a thought about mushy cups when they start to go mushy remove them and turn them in to paper, someone entered this in the coffee cup contest so its just combining the 2 ideas really.
n1cod3mus (author)  Kiteman4 years ago
good idea, the purpose was to use paper coffee cups as per the competition ;-)
I realise that, hence the first comment about varnish.
localtalent4 years ago
 I think the weight of the water will eventually break the glue bond - you'd be better off with mechanical attachment, like if you put the spoke through the cup and washers around the spoke nipples.  
n1cod3mus (author) 4 years ago
ive had an addition thought on this one, if you have a steam you could do away with the flume and, provided your using waterproof cups of some kind, slightly submerge the wheel in the water to catch the current. which would make it less reliant on gravity. but the flumes good if your running it from rain water off your roof or if you just want to make it a water feature ;-)
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