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Wayne02
12-31-2006, 08:49 PM
Waterwheel invention promises cheap electricity
Last updated at 11:20am on 31st December 2006

Mr Gilmartin with his waterwheel invention

It's a mechanical problem that's troubled scientists since Archimedes and the ancient Greeks but now an electrician has come up with a new invention that could help save consumers thousands of pounds in energy bills.

Scotsman Ian Gilmartin, 60, and his friend Bob Cattley, 58, both from Kendal, Cumbria have invented a mini-waterwheel capable of supplying enough electricity to power a house - for free.

The contraption is designed to be used in small rivers or streams - ideal for potentially thousands of homes across Britain. It is the first off-the-shelf waterwheel system which can generate a good supply of electricity from a water fall as little as 20cm.

Mr Gilmartin, an electrician and inventor, was not prompted to think up his new device by high energy bills - he does not own a TV and has never lived in a house with electricity.

But he has a stream at the back of his house, the Beck Mickle, and with the help of Phd engineering student, Mr Cattley, now hopes to see the invention in the shops by the end of next year.

Mr Gilmartin first began experimenting three years ago with yoghurt pots and wheelie bins in the stream, before test-running a proto-type. They took the results to the Lake District National Park, and secured a 15,000 grant from the organisation's sustainability fund.

The prototype has now been working successfully at St Catherine's, a National Trust site near Windermere, opening up previously untapped energy. The waterwheel produces one to two kilowatts of power and generates at least 24 kilowatt hours of sustainable green energy in a day, just under the average household's daily consumption of around 28 kilowatt hours.

It will hope to cost around 2,000 to fully install - and will pay for itself in side two years.

The Beck Mickle 'low head' micro hydro generator could potentially provide electricity to more than 50,000 British homes and could be used industrially.

Mr Gilmartin said: "While we cannot say this provides free electricity, because of the initial cost of buying the machine, it is expected to pay for itself within two years and then greatly reduce the owner's electricity bills after then."

Waterwheels of various types have been known since Roman times and hydropower was widely used in the Middle Ages, powering most industry in Europe.

But the energy produced from the flow of water depends on the height, or head, that the water falls.

A 'high head' like a traditional water-wheel, is large, expensive and needs civil engineering. But with 'low heads' - under a 18 inches, no one had yet invented a method of successfully recovering the energy generated.

Researchers have long sought out low cost technology to exploit the vast number of suitable low head hydro sites as a source of renewable energy.

A conventional waterwheel allows the water to escape prematurely as the wheel rotates, but the Beck Mickle Hydro generator contains the water for the full drop of the device, converting around 70 per cent of the energy into electricity.

Mr Gilmartin explained, "This idea started off to answer the question, 'How do you recover energy from very, very low heads of fluid?'

"With a low head there is not very much flow, no velocity, the fluid has got to have speed, and the only way of doing it is with a water wheel, but they are big and expensive and need lots of civil engineering.

"I have come up with an answer and I don't know why anyone has not thought of it before."

Mr Gilmartin added: "You have to have a good reason for not having one. There are enormous possibilities wherever there are water flows."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/technology/technology.html?in_article_id=425665&in_page_id=1965&in_page_id=1965&expand=true#StartComments

What do you think, does this concept have potential??

Evan
12-31-2006, 09:36 PM
Sure it has potential, if the water doesn't turn hard as a rock half the year, the fish and wildlife people will give you a permit, the water rights branch will give you a permit and the downstream users of the water don't object. Chances of getting approval here equal slim to none.

Peter S
12-31-2006, 10:58 PM
I don't see how one can make much comment - I am certainly interested but there is so little information given in the article (and would you trust a newspaper to get any of it correct? :( )

I was recently in the UK, there was a tiny wind-powered generator gaining lots of publicity - but no figures given for its output - "powers a hair drier" I think the newspapers said in dumb-speak. Is that 100 watts? 500 watts? I have no idea.

Most of the time the media there go on about the utter garbage about turning off your standby power, thus saving huge amounts of power and soothing your conscience.....its hard not to be cynical.

wierdscience
01-01-2007, 12:02 AM
Yep it will work,but he had better not let any Snail Darters get knots on thier heads or else.

Samuel
01-01-2007, 12:17 AM
also would like to mention , if thats the machine in the background of the photo, there is a heck of a drop for the water to develop a "head".

Samuel

dp
01-01-2007, 12:58 AM
Evan has it right - the problem isn't the energy - which in this case seems to come as much from inertia as from head pressure. The problem is getting this idea past the greenies. In Washington State this would be a non-starter. You cannot exploit rivers and streams for any purpose, and in many areas there is a 50' or more clear zone where you cannot do anything to your land where running water runs across it. You certainly cannot divert it, you cannot weed or clear the banks, adjust rocks, build a bridge over, or otherwise screw with anything but an irrigation flow that is also heavily regulated.

Not to mention the total energy available in any flowing stream can be calculated, and if everyone dipped energy from it the result would be a lake. Mucking with running water in nature has all kinds of interesting problems as anyone who has studied the Mississippi river will know. Any attempt to shorten or lengthen the river (it's grade) has been met with a cantankerous response by the river to put things as they were.

Taking energy from flowing water slows it which has the same effect as changing it's grade and the effects are there but of course a matter of scale. Over the length of a tributary it can spell disaster.

Case in point: In India where the Ganges river meets the sea is a classic river delta - a cluster of islands built up over a long period of time by silt and other forces. All very common - New Orleans is another example. Recently one of the delta islands, Lohachara, was washed away by the sea with great loss to the farmers and 10,000 residents of the island. All the news reports are blaming this on global warming, of course, as it is the perfect scapegoat.

A casual examination shows that in fact the problem began many years ago when several things happened that guaranteed this result:
- Two dams were built on the Ganges - no more silt making it to the sea
- The systematic removal of the mangroves to allow farming
- The systematic pumping of inland underground freshwater to irrigate and to provide water for the over-populated delta island

The seas in the Bay of Bengal have not risen sufficiently from any cause to create this disaster - the island was sinking as a result of underground water depletion, salt water was replacing it, the mangroves were not holding back the seas, and the silt is trapped behind the dams.

Move now to Tuvalu Island, the Pacific. It is claimed by the locals that rising seas are washing away the island. Global warming again the culprit. On examination we find that the over-populated island's fresh water supply is being pumped at a rate far greater than it is being replenished and the island is sinking as a consequence. The sea in Tuvalu is not significantly higher now than it was two centuries ago. When the island of Kiribati went under the waves global warming was blamed. Nobody thought to blame the water pumps and defoliation of the island. The same thing is happening in Florida where sinkholes are a problem - ground water depletion is the obvious problem, not global warming.

Of course global warming is a problem but it is not THE problem for everything that is going on in the world.

Lordy I rambled. :)

Tin Falcon
01-01-2007, 01:45 AM
Simple just build one of these

http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j108/Tin_Falcon/waterfall.jpg
Tin

BTW the drawing is by my favorite Artist MC Esher he did a bunch of this kind of thing.

Spin Doctor
01-01-2007, 09:25 AM
Easy, now just where did I put my 4th Diminsional TriSquare and transit

Jim Caudill
01-01-2007, 09:35 AM
That image makes my head hurt, it is a little harder to sort out than some others I have seen. It is the misplaced vertical supports that create the illusion.

Ed Tipton
01-01-2007, 12:14 PM
Neat picture. Whoever said that perception is reality obviously was not looking at this picture!
Back to the invention of Mr. Gilmartin. While I do think that It might be possible to do it, I don't think it's going to be possible for him to get it through all the red tape. Some power company will "make him an offer he can't refuse" just so they can buy the idea and then put the technology on the shelf until such time that they are able to adapt it to work with their existing infrastructure. They are not about to let the fruit of someones brain undermine what they have built, and thus render their investments worthless.
He would probably be far ahead to just be satisfied with devising a way to beat the system, and use it for his own gain. As it is, he will do well to be able to benefit from his own ingenuity. JMHO.

Evan
01-01-2007, 12:54 PM
No need for any conspiracy theories re the power companies in this matter. They aren't the least bit concerned about small hydro power. Even absent the difficulty of having such approved by the authorities there are very, very few people in a position to make use of such power. Suitable streams and creeks just aren't that common, even here in BC which has countless thousands of lakes and streams.

A.K. Boomer
01-01-2007, 02:13 PM
That image makes my head hurt, it is a little harder to sort out than some others I have seen. It is the misplaced vertical supports that create the illusion.


That Pic really does not play any games with me except the illusion -- all i really see is the waterfall and the wheel and the rest is so absurd it really doesnt even register...

I wish there was a breakdown of the water wheel wayne posted, is it turbine or what? I could care about all the "reviews" i just want to see a pic.

Mark McGrath
01-01-2007, 07:04 PM
A google search for "beck mickle" turns up a few references to this including a good picture of the actual wheel.
Mark.

Wayne02
01-01-2007, 07:35 PM
Acknowledging the red tape, location factors and all, plus the relatively low power output, some of the low technology and resourcefulness is interesting.

Start at post #9 in this thread for another attempt at harnessing some juice from a stream.

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=146868&highlight=tape+drive

Peter S
01-01-2007, 08:24 PM
Mark,
if you find that picture again, how about posting the link? I couldn't find anything.

The inventor is mistaken in one of his claims - there are low head systems around. In France I have seen several working systems on the canals, they fit the turbine near each lock, so it is working on maybe 2 metres head (but lots of volume). I have been to one place (Montech, near Montauban) where there are about 5-6 locks in a row, several of the locks have pretty powerful looking turbines (I would guess hundreds of kw). But the huge locomotive-driven water incline next to the locks is much more interesting!

HTRN
01-01-2007, 08:49 PM
This concept is nothing new, it's called "MicroHydro", and is considered to be the most reliable form of energy by the Renewable energy folks. It ranges from simple waterwheel setups, hooked to a bunch of car alternators, to sumersable propeller designs, to people building dams and using miniturbines...

Like others have stated, getting the permits and persmissions is the problem.

Some links:
Microhydro.net (http://www.microhydropower.net/)
ABS Alaskan (http://www.absak.com/alternative-energy/hydro-power.html)

The more remote areas are easier to do this sort of thing, like Alaska, where there's little chance of downstream users complaining. The Western US has some pretty strict water use laws, due to it's history of "Cattle Country" where screwing with a stream can result in herd losses downstream(at least a coupla fueds and "wars" were started over this)


HTRN

Tin Falcon
01-01-2007, 08:55 PM
A few years ago I visted the Missions near SanAntonio Texas. It is part of the National park system. One of the park interns recreated a grist mill. It was designed for arid places and low head aplications. IIRC the turbine was an open tub turbine and about 8 ft below the mill floor. the resivore for water was next to the mill the head was 3-4 ft. I was told that the wheel was so eficent that a garden hose would operate it. Apparently a design that was several hundred years old from spain. The missions were operated by fransican brothers that were skilled as engineers, builders, blacksmiths, doctors, masons, and priests.
Unfortunatly the NPS.Gov web site gives very little info on the mill.
Regards
Tin

John Stevenson
01-01-2007, 09:36 PM
Whether it works or not and whether you can stick it in a stream isn't the crux of the matter.

What is the crux and what has worked is that he's managed to get 15,000 UKP , nearly $30,000 out of some government body.

That's the relevant bit that works for him.

.

EDMTech
01-02-2007, 12:34 AM
This guy is an electrician and he has never lived in a house with electricity???

Anyone else catch the irony of this?

Evan
01-02-2007, 01:01 AM
We have discussed this before. A friend of mine that lives near here generates a 120kw or so using pumps spun as turbines and induction motors as generators. He sells the power to BC Hydro on a long term contract.

http://www.smallhydropower.com/more.html

Ron has no end of problems with permits even though the lake his creek drains from was manmade by gold miners in the 1800s.

Mark McGrath
01-02-2007, 04:22 PM
http://lec.lancs.ac.uk/ebp/Case%20studies/4.pdf

Mark

Rich Carlstedt
01-02-2007, 05:51 PM
Lets put numbers to it.
One KWH = 1,000 watts or 1.298 HP
I HP = 33,000 foot pounds per minite
Therefore he needs about 1.9 HP at the stated efficiency of 70 % OF THE WHEEL...but small generators are only 33 % eff?
so he will need 5.7 HP
5.7 x 33000=188,000 pounds lifted in one minute to one foot.
Since it is at 18 inches (20 cm) he needs 2/3's of that or 125,358 pounds of water.
At 62 pounds per cubic feet, it comes to 2,022 cubic feet of water., or 15,106 (US) gallons PER MINUTE . This is equal to one and a half Swimming Pools that are 20 feet in diameter and 4 feet fill level !!
Lets say his "buckets " hold 10 cubic feet each. that means they must
fill and empty at the rate of 202 RPM...........
I don't know...2,000 cubic feet per minute is not something to push off as a easy target..and with no pictures, it's like every other government program..
A lot of flash, but little substance
We shall see
Rich

Rich Carlstedt
01-02-2007, 06:02 PM
I just saw the picture that Mark posted.....
Bridge for sale time folks!
It only proves that the government grant givers are more
interested in hype than real physics.
His concept is correct in the sense that a wheel works in a arc and spills some of the water, where as the "vertical' bucket element, prevents this,
however to do this he has forgone the "splendid" efficiency of a plain wheel bearing and substituted the chain track, with its "Multiple" pivot (read friction) centers.
70% eff.....in your dreams

just envision his invention with the hard facts of Cubic feet per minute and !!!
Rich

Mark McGrath
01-02-2007, 09:29 PM
I think it looks promising.I have only scaled the bucket size using the man an average sized adult and worked out in my head what volume of water it can hold at any given time.However it`s 0130hrs here and I leave for work at 0700 so I will do some calcs tomorrow if I get time.Note I am not agreeing with any quoted outputs but rather that I think it could be an improvement on a circular wheel.
Mark.

John Stevenson
01-02-2007, 09:36 PM
Note I am not agreeing with any quoted outputs but rather that I think it could be an improvement on a circular wheel.
Mark.
It's certainly improved his bank balance. :rolleyes:

Read the comments in the link in the first post.
I like the one where he says if you don't have a stream in your garden use the water butt for supply.
I wish people would do more research first on these idea's.
One of our big stores is selling a wind turbine for about 1200, supposedly puts out 1K and has a payback time of 7 years.
Load of rubbish it won't have any payback as it's that flimsey it will only last 3 years.



.

aboard_epsilon
01-02-2007, 10:48 PM
It's certainly improved his bank balance. :rolleyes:

Read the comments in the link in the first post.
I like the one where he says if you don't have a stream in your garden use the water butt for supply.
I wish people would do more research first on these idea's.
One of our big stores is selling a wind turbine for about 1200, supposedly puts out 1K and has a payback time of 7 years.
Load of rubbish it won't have any payback as it's that flimsey it will only last 3 years.....

that windmill sold at the UK DIY stores only puts out 1000 watts in a plus 70 mph gail ...and the contract is that you have to pay the company to install it ..comes out over 2000 in the end ....


better idea would be to harness the power from your mains water supply ...wonder how much power that could make ...if it could only make 150 watts ...but at it 24/7 ...with the power from it stored in batts ...you got something that could cut your power bills in the average house by a quarter.


of course your not doing the right thing by stealing power from the water ....but ....they are stealing money from you by charging for suppling it ...
so think carefully before you have that water metre put in.


All the vbest..mark

dp
01-03-2007, 12:02 AM
http://lec.lancs.ac.uk/ebp/Case%20studies/4.pdf

Mark

Almost as clever as the guy who put a daisy chain of nylon parachutes on a loop of rope. They expand going down stream and collapse going up stream. Extra points if you pull them out of the water to reduce drag on the return trip. The rope took a turn around a pulley which drew off the power.

Here's how you create power and create global cooling at the same time:
http://www.hawaii.gov/dbedt/info/energy/renewable/otec

Rich Carlstedt
01-03-2007, 12:15 AM
DP
Ah ! Contrare, my friend..that is not Global cooling but direct global warming !
They are taking cold ocean water from the bottom and using it to cool a heat engine thermocycle. In essense, the cold water is being displaced by warmer water. So here we have greenies directly contributing to warming the oceans and thinking they are helping the energy situation..I love it!
Rich

Evan
01-03-2007, 12:24 AM
Bah. It doesn't produce cooling or warming. It is merely exploiting an existing temperature difference caused by solar input.

dp
01-03-2007, 12:28 AM
DP
Ah ! Contrare, my friend..that is not Global cooling but direct global warming !
They are taking cold ocean water from the bottom and using it to cool a heat engine thermocycle. In essense, the cold water is being displaced by warmer water. So here we have greenies directly contributing to warming the oceans and thinking they are helping the energy situation..I love it!
Rich

They're actually stealing cold water from future generations. One day there'll be no cold water on the sea floor and all the methane down there will start to bubbling and the next thing you know...

http://armageddononline.tripod.com/methane.htm ! :)

Evan
01-03-2007, 12:33 AM
Regardless, it doesn't change the overall heat balance of the global system. It is only moving solar heat around.

dp
01-03-2007, 12:42 AM
Regardless, it doesn't change the overall heat balance of the global system. It is only moving solar heat around.

Of course. Unless it in some way radiates heat into space it remains pretty much right here where it was found. It's a politician's dream though - the promise of cheap envirofriendly energy for people who are bad at math.