The Power Wheel
By Nicolas Delgado
Junior Category (Grades 7-8)
Innovation | Energy and Natural Resources, Engineering and Computer Science, Environment
The purpose of my science fair project is to create a greener energy source. I got this idea when I first saw the free flow. The free flow is an underwater turbine that uses river flow to generate energy. This inspired me. So I started to think, don’t we already have dams? Do we need a new renewable hydropower source? I found that dams have an environmental impact: they are expensive, flood areas that have animals living in them, and stop salmon from getting to their natural laying grounds. With that I could make a hypothesis: “If I can create a hydropower generator without building a dam, then I would have made a better alternative energy source.”
For my testing I decided to use a wheel connected to a DIY hand crank generator, something simulating an European water mill. I tested with different water flows, ranging from an estimated 300 L/s (like a water tap) to an estimated 800 L/s. The results show that even at home one can generate energy that doesn’t use dams; meaning that we could scale up to make a network of micro-grids to power a city. The hydro-kinetic power generation is an alternative to the traditional hydropower plants, creating less impact in the environment, and letting salmon get through while still making electricity.