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Our idea is titled the Small Scale Hydropower Project. Thousands of homes use electricity and gas for power. But how many homes use or integrate hydropower? Our goal is to research how efficient, reliable and feasible it is to use small hydroelectric generators to power a house or electrical device. We will design a model of a hydroelectric generator, and test how much power it can generate, specifically on which angle the water hits the paddle that will be most efficient for generating electricity. Based on rainfall and power consumption of today’s electrical appliances, this could be a successful and cost effective method of harvesting power in an eco-friendly way.
The results of this experiment show that a vertical flow of water produced more volts of electricity than a horizontal or 45 degree angle. The three trials of the experiment using a jet of water parallel to the ground (0 degrees) produced averages of 114.75, 113.75 and 102.67 volts of electricity. The three trials of the experiment that used a vertical jet of water (90 degrees) produced significantly more energy; averages of 143, 153.25 and 147.33 volts. The trials using a 45 degree jet of water produced averages of 133.5, 130.08 and 139.67 volts, which is in between the horizontal and vertical jets of water, as would be expected. To sum it up, the vertical jet produced significantly more power than the horizontal jet, and still more than the 45 degree jet, with average increases of 37.41 and 13.44 watts, respectively. The table below shows all of the data collected for each trial, in intervals of 10 seconds, for two minutes per trial. It also displays the average watts generated for each angle of water tested.
Question: How much energy will be produced from the homemade generator if the angle of water is changed?
Methods and Materials
We would like to thank Washington State University in Vancouver, Laura Friedenberg, the CHS Magnet program teachers, Keith Johnson at Dowa for the information about the new 2009/2010 Doc Harris Stadium, and the CEF Foundation.
To model this situation, our group needed a generic brand medium generator, voltammeter, hose and facet, a stand plastic paddles, and duct tape. The group created our own scale model of a hydroelectric generator similar to what will be used if installed in Doc Harris Stadium. From that we will run tests on how much energy can be created from the small generator with a running facet depending on which angle the water is hitting the paddles. If there is enough energy output from a certain angle of water, then we can find the maximum energy that could possibly be created from the actual generator that will be put in to the stadium. Hopefully it will be able to create enough energy to light up the stadium.
Our controlled variables for this experiment are the speed of the water, the generator used, where the generator is placed, etc. We plan to manipulate the angle of which the water hits the paddles. Finally, we will be measuring (Responding variable) how much electricity is generated from each kind of paddle.
We found that the ninety degree angle at which the water hits the paddles had by far the best results. The forty-five degree angle had a significant output of energy generated, and was almost as effective as the ninety degree angle. The zero degree angle was very inefficient, and had scattered readings throughout, and had the lowest readings overall. Having the water coming at the paddles from a parallel angle from the ground pulled the water in all different directions, making it harder for the water to make contact with the paddles. The ninety and forty-five angles were much more direct, and therefore had more effect on the speed the paddles were moving.
With the continuance of our research, we plan to create a better model of a small-scale hydroelectric generator that will be put in the Doc Harris Stadium. The idea could be taken to the county in hopes that they could buy and install our generator models in city buildings and schools to generate their own electricity. The idea of a personal and cost-efficient generator would then hopefully intrigue families and small business owners in generating their own, free power. Next we could go to the state governor and take the idea to be considered for use around Washington, being one of the rainiest states in the USA. The success rate could theoretically be great because of the yearly rainfall in Washington only. The change of one state could proceed with the change of many more. If this idea kicks off in an economic and earth-friendly way, the amount of emissions from homes could be greatly reduced, and with this, could be recognized country-wide. Other showery states on both the east and west coasts could use this idea to reduce the amount of emissions caused by either the burning of oil for energy, or generation of electricity in huge amounts.
Figure 1. This graph shows the amount of electricity, in amps, generated by shooting a jet of water at 0, 45, and 90 degree angles at our paddle.