How to Make a Siphon Wave Generator




About: I am an A-Levels Student at Karachi Grammar School, Pakistan. My passion is physics and mechanics and I want to be a Mechanical Engineer in the future. Actually anything in the field of engineering would do. :P
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I made this project with a person I met in a science internship at the Foundation For Diffusion of Scientific Knowledge. (Saad Ahmed)

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This design is similar to that of US patent 7355298. It's not for profit. I've changed almost half of the equipment used. And the design. 

A siphon refers to an inverted U-tube that allows liquid to flow uphill above the surface of the reservoir(a tank with the greater height of water) without the help of pumps, powered by the fall of the liquid as it flows down the tube under the pull of gravity, and is discharged at a level lower than the surface of the reservoir.

So in this Instructable, I'll be demonstrating the concepts behind Siphon Generation. And how to build your own Siphon Wave Generator at home using easily available hardware materials such as pipes. 

Waves are a powerful source of solar power. The sun heats the earth causing the air near the ground to heat and rise creating wind. The air over the sea is cooler and therefore falls. This change in wind, causes wind to blow from land to sea. When the wind blows over a body of water the energy of the wind is exchanged to the waves it creates. The power of the waves is concentrated solar power. The power created in the waves is both the movement of the waves and the lifting of the water to the crest of the waves. And therefore these waves can be used to generate huge amounts of energy. 

Wave power plants extract the energy from the waves and convert this energy into useful electric power.

The main advantages of extracting energy from waves are:
  1.  The energy is solar with no pollution.
  2. Wave power is renewable and is a source of power great enough to power the world. 
However, the problems encountered by wave power stations are:
  1. Most are costly to build in relation to the amount of electricity extracted.
  2. Most generating devices are complex with numerous moving parts that experience great wear due to the salt and sand in the ocean often causing the cost of repair to exceed the value of the electricity extracted.
  3. Storms often destroy entire wave generating stations. 

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Step 1: Siphon Generation: the Concept

There are 3 main Physics Principles behind Siphon Generation:
  • Hydro Static Pressure
  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Pull of Gravity
A siphon works because gravity pulling down on the taller column of liquid causes reduced pressure at the top of the siphon (formally, hydrostatic pressure). This reduced pressure means gravity pulling down on the shorter column of liquid is not sufficient to keep the liquid stationary so it flows from the upper reservoir, up and over the top of the siphon.

When the crest of a wave is at the first vertical intake pipe the water level will be higher at that pipe than any other vertical intake pipe, thus the water will start flowing up the first vertical pipe at the crest of the wave. The one way valves in the other intake pipes would prevent the water from flowing out thus forcing the water to flow through the horizontal generating pipe turning the prop and generator, thus producing electricity. The water would then flow down any of the exhaust pipes in which the water height outside the exhaust pipe is below the height of the water outside the first intake pipe due to the siphon effect.

When the crest of the wave moves to the second intake pipe the water level is higher at the this pipe than any other intake pipe causing the water to flow up this pipe through the horizontal pipe turning the generator in the same direction, generating electricity and flowing down the exhaust pipe closest to the trough of the wave due to the siphon effect.

The valves in the intake and exhaust pipes would jointly cause the water to flow in only one direction through the horizontal pipe, from the intake side to the exhaust side. This would cause the generator to turn in only one direction.

After you pour a little water into each bucket you then get the air out of the tubing priming the system. Then, when you pour more water into one bucket it'll siphon over to the other bucket, spinning the turbine, until the levels equalize. Then you've got to pour more water into one bucket to get the siphon action started again. Once both buckets are filled up you've got to get rid of enough water to make more room in the buckets.

Step 2: Materials Needed

To build a Siphon Wave Generator you will need the following materials:-
  • 12 ft of 11/4" Pipe
  • 3 ft of 3/4" Pipe
  • 4, 3/4 " Check Valves
  • 4, 11/4" Elbow Fittings
  • 4, 11/4" Extended-T Fittings
  • 4, 11/4"  to 3/4" Reducers
  • 8, 3/4" Screw Pipe Fittings
  • Silicon
  • Grease
  • Breadboard
  • Pipe Glue
  • Motor
  • A Small Fan
  • Multi-meter
Tools Needed:-
  • Soldering Iron Or Drill Bit
  • Pipe Cutter
  • Suction Pump (Optional)

Step 3: Cutting the Pipes

Cut the 12ft pipe using the following dimensions.
  • 4, 10 Inch Pipes
  • 4, 6 Inch Pipes
  • 2, 4 Inch Pipes
Now cut the 3ft pipe using the following dimensions.
  • 8, 4 Inch Pipes

Step 4: Gluing Step 1

Use the PVC pipe glue to glue the elbow fitting to a 10 inch pipe from one end and a 6 inch pipe from the other end. Do this for every elbow fitting you have. (That's 4 times)

Step 5: Gluing Step 2

Glue the longer 10 inch side of the newly created pipe to an Extended-T fitting. Glue another pipe to the other side of the Extended-T fitting ensuring that the 'T' part of the fitting is completely perpendicular. 

Do this twice.

Step 6: Gluing Step 3

Use the newly created two pipes and glue the 4 inch pipe to each left out T-fitting. And a join a Extended-T Fitting to each side. Leaving the top left open as shown. 

Step 7: Drilling Holes

Take 4 of the 8 4 inch (3/4") pipes and drill holes at the bottom of each pipe as shown. You can also use a soldering iron as an alternative to create the holes in the PVC pipes. These pipes can act as water inlets and outlets at the bottom of the Siphon Wave Generator.

Step 8: Screw in Valve

Use the screw in valves, and glue all the 8 3/4" pipes into the screw in valve as shown. 

Step 9: Assembling the Legs

Assemble the legs using the pictures as a guide. It's pretty easy. 

You need a total of 4 legs. With two legs showing the check valve arrow in the downward direction and two in the upward direction. 

Step 10: Assembling the Final Unit

Join one Leg to each 6 Inch pipe as shown. On each side, there should be two similar check valve legs placed. For example downward on both ends of one side and upward on both ends of the other side. So that if water goes up from one side, it can't go out from the adjacent side but will have to take a different route to reach the opposite side instead. 

Step 11: The Motor

The motor needs to be one that spins freely. We can waterproof the motor using Silicon and/or Grease so that it minimizes friction to a very small amount. Super Glue the fan onto the motor as shown. 

Place the motor into the hole we left uncovered in the beginning. Super glue it inside in such a way that the fan can spin freely. 

Connect the leads of a multi meter to the nodes of the waterproof motor inside and seal the end, allowing only the leads to stick out. (I didn't do that properly here).

Step 12: You're Ready!

Your Siphon Wave Generator is ready. All you need to do now is, full the unit with water will it's full. We need to also ensure that we remove all the air from inside the unit to create a vacuum. A valve can be further installed that sucks all the air out of the unit. And then place it in a swimming pool and watch the magic. 

All the air must be removed from the pipe by any means including but not limited to: flipping the unit upside down, opening a service valve in the top pipe and lowering the unit completely under water until all the air is removed then closing the service valve and raising the unit, or preferably by using a service valve located at the top of the unit that can be attached to a pump to pump all the air out of the unit thus filling the unit completely with water.

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    55 Discussions


    6 years ago

    A vertical, elevated opening at the top, like the one that houses the generator would allow "priming" just by pouring in enough water to fill the legs. Something like a drain trap on the outlet side could be used to prevent outflow until after the horizontal portion has been filled to a certain level.

    howtowithmanishAnkan Nayak

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 12

    Yes, I suppose it can work. But there are always more factors to consider when experimenting on a larger scale.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    A suggestion for improvement of your design. A propeller is designed to convert the linear motion of the fluid into rotational motion if the fluid meets the propeller face-on, not sideways as you mounted it into the pipe. You could make a Savonius blade (picture) or maybe mount small cups (halved small hollow balls) like an anemometer has.

    savonius turbine.tif

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Maybe this description will make it clearer: The valves should be arranged in such a way that one of the uprights of the H structure (top view) will form the inlet from both containers and the other upright of the H structure will be the outlet - see picture This will cause the water to always flow in the same direction through the horizontal section of the H.

    siphon wave generator.jpg
    1 reply

    Haha yeah I guess pictures can help explain something much better than what words can. Thank you. :) Please follow me if you liked this Instructable and rate it as well.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Brilliant and well documented post! Keep on Keepin' on!

    BTW there seems to be much adu about patent law going on here instead of the proper attention to your work... to this I say, (and I'm sure I'll get spammed for it, although if you pay attention to what I'm about to quote, you'll realized I don't care and please restrain yourselves).

    “I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
    ― Robert A. Heinlein


    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Just wanted to let you know that this design apparently is protected by US patent 7355298, and may not be the best thing to put on Instructables. Check this 4 year old Youtube video:

    6 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    US Patents only apply in the US. That is why inventions are filed in multiple countries when they are filed. Once made public as part of the filing process, it is in the public domain in all other countries; it becomes prior art. So as long as the invention is not manufactured or sold in a country where it is patented, there is no infringement. Seeing as this is in Pakistan, US patents don't apply.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    There is absolutely nothing stopping the author from posting a how-to on a patented invention, or building one. He can post it in the public domain because the IP in the patent already IS in the public domain (You have free access to the patent, a patent filing is a public declaration).

    Practically speaking, he could probably even make and sell these to a few individuals as long as the profit is minimal or not for profit. Patents, like laws, are passive documents. They don't actually do anything by themselves, they have to be enforced. Unlike laws, which have a public agent (police and justice) to enforce them, patent enforcement is up to the IP holder. For individual hobbyists, it's just not remotely financially beneficial to go after them legally.

    If one were to actually try to turn a decent profit off of selling them, then one would be looking at trouble.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Not only that, if there is an improvement, THAT can be patented. Or not, by choice, and can make as many as he wants .Love practical ingenuity!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Well, one has to be careful, because if you were to post an innovation or invention or improvement on Instructables, and then went to try to patent it, the patent office would reject it, because you already publicly declared it. That's why you have to be really tight-lipped about inventions still in progress, even if they are "patent pending."


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You are correct. What I like about Instructables is the Open system of sharing what you know without the promise of royalties and profits. Attribution is always a good idea,no matter what.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    US patent law allows for limited creation of patented items for experimentation purposes. If you do not try to sell them, and you don't make more than seven, you shouldn't run into any trouble.

    This has, of course, caused issues in chemistry research since the courts have decided that the numerical limit on quantity produced applies per-molecule if you're synthesizing patented chemicals... So be careful in that area.