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Build Your Own

Hydroelectric Generator energy!

Page 1 of 9

Micro-hydro Basics

ost machines that make electricity need Msome form of mechanical energy to get

things started. Mechanical energy spins the generator to make the electricity. In the case of hydroelectricity, the mechanical energy comes from large volumes of falling water. For more than 100 years, the simplest way to produce the volumes of falling water needed to make electricity has been to build a dam. A dam stops the natural flow of a river, building up a deep reservoir behind it. However, large dams and reservoirs are not always appropriate, especially in the more ecologically sensitive areas of the planet.

Micro-hydro systems can provide clean, environmentally friendly electricity in rural communities.

a “micro-hydro” system, “run-of-stream hydro” or “low-impact hydro.”

In this activity, you will use plastic spoons to build a model of a simple micro-hydro system. It generates surprising amounts of electricity, provided you have a supply of pressurized water, such as from a lab sink. This model closely resembles real micro-hydro designs, and can produce enough electricity to light a small light bulb.

For making small

amounts of

electricity without

building a dam, the



generator is often

the best solution,

especially where


streams on steep

slopes are close

by. A small-scale

hydro system

usually consists of an enclosed water wheel or turbine, which is made to spin by jets of high- velocity water. The water is taken from the stream and moved down slope to the turbine through a long pipe called a penstock. Water flowing through the penstock picks up speed, and is directed at the blades of the turbine by nozzles. The turbine spins continuously, as long as there is water to drive it. The turbine is connected to an electrical generator, and the electricity is then available for running appliances or charging batteries. The spent water is returned to the stream. This kind of system is called

Canada and many other countries depend on large-scale hydro developments for electricity.

The completed micro-hydro turbine.

A Renewable Energy Project Kit Another internet tool by: The Pembina Institute

Image | Build Your Own Hydroelectric Generator

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