New Hydro Generator Marvel 2007-01-02Posted by clype in Discovery, Gizmo, Money, Science, Scotland.
Tags: Electricity Generator, Waterwheel
Two Cumbrian friends have come up with an invention they claim could help consumers save thousands of pounds in energy bills.
Ian Gilmartin, 60, and Bob Cattley, 58, both from Kendal, say their mini-waterwheel could supply enough free electricity to power a house.
The device is designed to be used in homes close to small rivers or streams.
They secured a 15 000GBP grant from ‘The Lake District National Park’ to build a working prototype near ‘Windermere’.
The device is claimed to be the first off-the-shelf waterwheel system which can generate a good supply of electricity from a water fall as little as 8ins (20cm).
Mr.Gilmartin is an electrician by trade, but does not own a TV and has never lived in a house with electricity.
He first began experimenting three years ago with yoghurt pots and wheelie bins in a stream close to his home, before test-running a prototype.
This now produces almost all the daily electrical needs of an average home.
It is hoped to go on sale by the end of 2007 and is set to cost about 2 000 GBP to fully install.
‘It is expected to pay for itself within two years and then greatly reduce the owner’s electricity bills after then.
‘I have been thinking about this for a long time and tried various solutions.
‘I have come up with an answer and I don’t know why anyone has not thought of it before.’
- ‘Cheap Energy Hope From Waterwheel‘, BBC News, 2006-12-31
It is a mechanical problem that has troubled scientists since Archimedes and the ancient Greeks, but now a Scottish electrician has come up with the answer – and it could help consumers save thousands of pounds in energy bills.
Ian Gilmartin, 60, has invented a mini water wheel 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 water-wheel system that can generate a good supply of electricity from as little as an eight-inch water fall.
Mr.Gilmartin, an electrician and inventor who was born near Cupar, Fife, was not prompted to think up his new device by high energy bills – he does not own a television and has never lived in a house with electricity.
But he has a stream at the back of his house, and with the help of his friend and PhD engineering student Bob Cattley, 58, he hopes to get the invention into the shops by the end of this year.
Mr.Gilmartin began experimenting three years ago with yoghurt pots and wheelie bins in the stream, the Beck Mickle, before test-running a prototype.
He and Mr Cattley, who live in Kendal in Cumbria, took the results to the Lake District National Park, and secured a 15 000 GBP grant from the organisation’s sustainability fund.
The prototype has been working successfully at ‘St Catherine’s’, a ‘National Trust’ site near ‘Windermere’, opening up previously untapped energy.
The water wheel produces one to two kilowatts of power and generates at least 24kw hours of sustainable green energy in a day – just under the average household’s daily consumption of about 28kw hours.
It will cost some 2 000 GBP to fully install – and pay for itself inside 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.
‘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.’
Water wheels 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’, such as a traditional water wheel, is large, expensive and needs civil engineering. But with low heads of under 18 inches [200mm], no-one had invented a method of successfully recovering the energy generated – until now.
A conventional water wheel 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 about 70 per cent of the energy into electricity.
- ‘Scots inventor cracks centuries-old puzzle‘, Pat Hurst, The Scotsman, 2007-01-01