Sewage Turbine Energy Harvester




About: The BCAMRL is a Mechatronics Research Lab, founded in 2014 on the campus of Bergen County Academies, a magnet high school within the Bergen County Technical School District. Students create innovations base...

My research project is to use wastewater in homes(water found in kitchens, sinks, baths, etc.) and use that water to convert it into energy that would go back inside the house it came from. This will be achieved by inserting a water turbine inside of a 4 inch diameter tube, the turbine will be connected to a generator that creates voltage for home usage. Before the wastewater passes through the turbine it would go through a sifter that would turn the solid masses in the water into tiny particles so the system does not get clogged. This innovation would be placed in the backyard where the wastewater from most homes usually lies before it goes back into the sewer, which is connected to the general plumbing of our homes. One of the main problems for today’s middle class is the the countless amount of bills they receive each month, their energy bill being one of the biggest burdens. My hope it to either reduce or eliminate the energy bill with this machine. Some of the wastewater that is in the sewers is converted into energy, but there are people who maintain these facilities and they have to make sure the system runs smoothly. My product would be different because it would be self manageable, so their would be no facility cost on your water bill.

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Step 1: Problem

As society becomes more reliant on technology to do everyday tasks in order to make their lives easier. However one thing that does not make life easier for the everyday person is their energy bill. With households increasing their energy output it is important to find new ways to create energy so that energy bills can go down, which is how I came up with the idea of my Sewage Turbine Energy Harvester.

Step 2: Parts List:

Parts List

3 Water Turbines-3D Printed

USB / DC / Solar Lithium Ion/Polymer charger - v2

VERTER 5V USB Buck-Boost - 500mA from 3V-5V / 1000ma from 5V-12V

3 ¼ inch Dowels

4 inch diameter pipe

Gear system

Metal Rod

3 DC Motors


Volt Sensor

Wires Anchors

Arch Locks

Acrylic tube base

Step 3: Instructions

  1. Gather All Materials
  2. Drill 3 holes equidistant from each other, on each side of the pipe Make the hole big enough that the dowel can pass through
  3. Once hole is made insert the turbines into the pipe and pass the dowel through it.
  4. Attach anchors on the ends of the pipe, this will allow for the metal rod to be placed onto the system
  5. Screw the metal rod onto the anchor
  6. Set the three DC Motors onto the metal rod Using the arch anchors, secure the DC Motors onto the metal rod
  7. Place one set of gears onto the dowel
  8. Place a second set of gears onto the DC Motor preferably with more teeth
  9. Make sure that the gears from the dowel to the DC Motor are touching each other and spin when in contact with each other.
  10. Gather 2 long wires and label them positive and negative
  11. Solder the positive wire onto the positive leads of the DC Motor and the Negative wire onto the negative leads of the DC Motor
  12. Place the arduino USB charging circuit onto the base
  13. Place the positive and negative wires into their respective spots of the circuit

Step 4: Results

As you can see from the video, when placed in water the turbine is able to spin. We did not perform this test with the electronics attached to the system in order to protect the electronics. We tried to demonstrate the spinning of the turbine with a fan, but the fan was not strong enough to push the turbines. If there was no concern about using water to test the prototype voltage would surely be present in the system proving that the prototype works toward its cause.

Step 5: Electronics

The circuit for the innovation uses the following 2 modules which can be found at

-USB / DC / Solar Lithium Ion/Polymer charger - v2
-VERTER 5V USB Buck-Boost - 500mA from 3V-5V / 1000ma from 5V-12V

-You must first assemble both the -USB / DC / Solar Lithium Ion/Polymer charger - v2 and the VERTER 5V USB Buck-Boost - 500mA from 3V-5V / 1000ma from 5V-12Vtogether circuits. Instructions can be found on website.

-After assembly, connect both modules together: see pic above.

The mini meter which can be found on amazon will track your battery, this can be connected to the input terminal of the Boost module.

Step 6: Future Modifications

Future modifications include make the gear system more efficient. At the moment the gear system is smooth but not as smooth as it could be. By making the gear system more efficient it will allow for the system to generate more power which is the main purpose of my prototype. Another modification that will be looked at is how to protect the electronics so that the prototype can be tested underwater.By protecting the electronics it will allow for me to gather more solid data when testing the prototype. By doing this I could show that the system is actually generating power and that it is charging the battery that it is connected to.

Step 7: Supporting Documentation

Supporting Documentation: Research Poster, Video



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    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Brillante. Shalom


    1 year ago

    Have you ever checked how much waste water the average house generates? I suspect that the amount of energy you can recover is minimal compared to the cost of installing and maintaining the system. I really like the concept and thinking out of the box but I think your numbers are just not going to add up.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    I have to agree, the little trickle that comes down the pipe isnt going to do much. I could see this very useful in other places though. Sometimes here in Florida it rains for days at a time. Now THAT is a huge shot of continuous water flow.

    Wrrr 10-G

    Tip 1 year ago

    Phew, glad to read you were talking about "grey water" in stead of raw sewage..
    I would suggest a double clamp for each generator, so you'll need way less clamping force to steady each generator (because that's what gears demand: excellent allignment).

    Love the transparancy ;)


    1 year ago

    This looks like it could be easily converted to a down-spout pipe for water running off your roof. Where I live that could recoup the cost in a year or two, some places more. Nice idea!


    1 year ago

    Very cool....this also could be used in a feed pipe from a stream...water flowing down hill, I saw this also in another design where the vanes were Savonius style vanes, but for much larger pipes. Very awesome design!!!!


    1 year ago

    Interesting concept, but there are a couple of things you'll need to address. To begin with, the "sifter" to break down the solids will have to be powered -- more of a grinder than sifter -- otherwise it will plug. The grinder will VERY likely use more power than the generators produce.

    Secondly, if you place the generator in the horizontal part of the sewage pipe, you won't get enough force to turn the paddles. The horizontal slope of the sewer pipe is designed to create a slower "river" in the bottom of the pipe so that solid waste flows with it and doesn't get left behind when the water rushes out.

    It may look like the water is leaving with a lot of force when you flush your toilet, but that's because of the narrow inlet designed to push water and matter into the drain to get the siphon going through the trap. It'll then take a vertical drop through the plumbing stack, followed by it's flow down the "river" to the main sewer line.

    Keep up the innovative thinking though!


    1 year ago

    Nice work so far! We have the same energy problems in Australia and lots of talk to use similar systems in the public sewer system but nothing as of yet that i know of and definitely nothing like this! I have these kinds of ideas myself all the time however I am a bit lazy in executing them so its very cool to see someone actually doing it. Keep up the awesome work. Looking forward to seeing a waterproof V2.0 :)