Sustainability Hacks: Wind turbine generator

With a little bit of thought put into the build, a wind turbine generator can be one of the greenest ways to generate electricity. Wind power doesn’t require a semiconductor fab lab (unlike solar panels) and doesn’t have very many environmental consequences (unlike hydro power). The Tech Junkies put up a build log of a wind turbine that ended up being a very easy build.

In the interests of sustainability, The Tech Junkies found an old 1.5 HP DC treadmill motor. After measuring the voltage output when the motor was connected to a lathe, they discovered the power output was very linear. With a little bit of calculations, they realized they needed about 1000 RPM to get 20 Volts out of the motor. The team connected an inverter (it’s always cool seeing a power meter run backwards) and started fabricating the blades.

The team found a wealth of info on blade design on this site and following a few guidelines made six blades out of 8″ diameter PVC pipe. An aluminum hub was fabricated and the whole shebang was put on top of a found steel frame.

The Tech Junkies’ build produces 10 Watts of power but they’re looking to increase that to 500 W with the appropriate gearing. A great build that harkens back to this awesome webpage about turbine building and living off the grid.

Sustainability Hacks: Auto-feeding wood-fired generator

Here’s a project that’s hard to categorize. It generates electricity by burning wood. The diamond-plate wrapped column to the right is a magazine that stores the wood, which is gravity fed as pieces below are consumed. The heat is used to drive a power turbine which is responsible for generating the electricity.

This begs the question, is this a sustainability hack? From one perspective it’s burning renewable biomass. Right now that’s wood, but it could be compressed blocks of grasses or wood manufacturing byproducts. So in this sense it is sustainable. Unfortunately it still doesn’t solve the problem of carbon emissions.

The build log for the project is both image and video heavy. You can see the initial prototypes which are not self-feeding, but burn so hot that there’s a nice pink glow to the entire assembly. But by the time they get to the final prototype it’s running much more efficiently, and can put out a peak of over 100 amps!

[Thanks DerAxman]

DIY portable charger/generator

portable_charger_generator

[Glenn] from The Back Shed has built a lot of windmills and stationary generators over the years, but recently decided to try his hand at building something a bit more portable.

The charger is based of a relatively simple design, employing a 5.2 HP Kubota 4 stroke motor and a 12v car alternator to provide power. While you might be inclined to point out that his charger does exactly what an alternator and motor are built to do, there was a bit more to it than simply slapping the two parts together.

A laser cut adapter plate holds the motor and alternator together, but once [Glenn] wrapped things up and gave the motor a spin, he realized that he was driving the alternator backwards. This would eventually cause the alternator to overheat since the cooling fan was running the wrong way. He removed the fan and reversed the fins with a hammer so that he could get the cooling he needed without having to reinstall the alternator in the opposite orientation.

The whole kit was mounted on a hand truck for portability, and [Glenn] says that the charger/generator only needs to run about 5 minutes before a dead battery has enough juice to crank an engine.

[via HackedGadgets]

Light LED’s with FIRE!

Reader [Andre] sent in a link which tells us all about this “cool” Copper Oxide Thermoelectric Generator. All you need is a bit of solid copper wire and a gas torch. Burn the wire so it gets a nice coating of oxide. From there, it is a matter of making the 2 sections of burned wire cross at a point and heat up only one of the wires. Whichever is hotter forms a cathode and whichever one is cooler is the anode.

Just one of these junctions is enough to produce a few hundred millivolts, but the author takes it a step further, well 16 steps further. He made a ring of these junctions in series, which is enough to light a bright blue LED. While the author notes that this thing is producing a considerable amount of voltage, its not producing much amperage. This could come in very handy in the future, like if you need some additional LED lighting for your camp stove.

Alternative Phone Charging Devices

We’ve all heard of solar cells that charge your devices, or the odd flashlight that charges when you shake it, but this style charger should be new to almost everyone. This “pan charger” is reportedly capable of charging a cell phone or other mobile device using a USB connection in 3 to 5 hours.  It also has a built-in radio and lantern. This should be a great tool for surviving a zombie apocalypse or if you simply live in a region without readily available power.

A second charger, currently being used in Africa, is an adaptation of a small generator hooked up to a bicycle. As this form of transportation is quite common in developing nations, this simple idea definitely shows promise.  Check out the video of the bike cell phone charger after the break. [Read more...]

Build your own vertical axis wind turbine

You can build a copy of this vertical wind turbine in a weekend and it won’t cost you all that much. Applied Sciences developed the hardware and they’re sharing all for the build details. You will be taken through every part of the build starting with the fin assembly which is made from stove-pipe material. This is a perfect raw material because it is already curved and suited for aerodynamic use in much the same way that PVC pipe is for making fins and we would expect it to be a bit lighter in weight. You will also need to turn your own coils when assembling the stator. This particular build process uses nine coils embedded in fiberglass. They remain stationary while two different discs, each containing a dozen rare earth magnets, rotate in close proximity to induce a current. It outputs three-phase AC current which can be turned to DC using a bridge rectifier and then further regulated for storage in batteries.

[Thanks Miguel]

Hacking a hack: electric hybrid Geo Metro

[Ben Nelson] turned his electric Geo Metro into a plug-in hybrid. But wait, where’d he get an electric Geo Metro? It seems that we’re one hack behind [Ben], who converted the vehicle to all electric back in 2008 using a forklift motor and some batteries. This time around he’s following the Chevrolet Volt’s example by adding a backup generator. Instead of going with a gasoline power he added a tank of propane and the generator from a Recreational Vehicle. This won’t put out enough juice to drive while the generator is running, but you can use it to extend your traveling range by pulling over for a nap while it tops off the batteries.