The $50 Water Turbine – DIY, Portable, Powerful, and Open Source

The $50 Water Turbine – DIY, Portable, Powerful, and Open Source

My name is Daniel Connell. The last 10
years I’ve been developing low-tech alternative infrastructure, basically
things people can make themselves from recycled readily available materials
which takes care of their basic human needs. this is mostly to do with
energy, water and sanitation, food, that sort of thing. I’m at a place called
Valldaura labs in the hills of Barcelona working with the group called COACT to
develop a pico-hydro turbine. So a very small scale but very low-cost and
portable means of producing electricity from water. So the whole project has been open-source, making things more accessible. Theoretically anybody anywhere can make the stuff and get access to these resources. There’s a bit of optimization is going to start rapidly paying off. So we’re going to try again
with two different approaches a basic computer fan. Plan B point five is this
impeller design which we’re now going to 3D print. This is the phase 3 turbine it’s similar
to the previous ones that we tested I am gonna flip it around direction wise
though so that the water is going to come in from here but this will be on…
So we’re going to move it to further down the canal it’s about like a two point two
meter drop instead of 0.9 meter drop which should give like three three and a
half times as much power over all. So the water’s gonna come up here go through here across the top of the weir and then vertically down this is gonna be
horizontal and then the water’s going to come up this way and turn the fan in that
direction and then the pipe’s going to plug in here like before. Other than that
it’s basically the same. So we’re going with the unreinforced PCU fan which did the best revs. The 3d printed impeller did a good job in terms… it did more torque with less revs, I want more revs with less torque… I don’t want less torque, but I
want more revs because that means more voltage which means less transmission
losses and stuff. Don’t worry, is only water. Well, water and some level of toxic waste. Water from the Anoia river. Wow. Holy shit so fast! Super. There we go.
That’s the number. So if we can get 10 amps of this
hoverboard wheel which it should be rated to Times 55 volts if there’s enough power in the full system that means we could without melting or damaging anything, be getting about 500 watts off this system quite easily. If there’s enough water flow, but there should be, because like the full system power of this is about 1.2 – 1.3 kilowatts, so even if we’re only going at like 40% efficiency over all, which it’s hopefully more, that’s doing 500 watts, right there. So that, times 24 hours a day is 12 kilowatt hours which is enough to run about two-thirds
of a western suburban home. Everything here cost about 40 euros. So like what we’ve got here in terms of water availability is quite good we’ve got this like long
vertical drop we’ve got like a really solid water supply here. Most situations
aren’t going to have something quite this good, this is a good situation, but
it’s also a lot of power. So in other sort of like in places where they’ve got like little streams that come down a couple of meters on an angle this will do a lot less
power but it’ll still do useful amounts of power. Especially if you’re camping, make a little portable version especially if you’re living in the developing world, the global south then this, I mean… what’s coming out of this
right now will power like, I dunno, like half a dozen homes, in like, a developing country. Easily. and cost less there than it did here, because generally materials are more cheap Like this is all very, very standard stuff. The hoverboard wheel not so much,
everything else you can get anywhere in the world this can get swapped out for a-
[Bird Shit] This can get swapped out for a motorbike
alternator, or something similar to that which is available anywhere in the world
and will do fairly similar amounts of power and voltage per rev. So next we’ll wire it up, that’ll be on these guys here at Ca La Fou, to have the, design a system for themselves, and like, do what they want it to do wire it in, and then we’ll start getting some numbers, some data, and that can be broadcast. Once this has been going for a while, and as long as it doesn’t break, I mean we still need to burn this in, obviously over like days and
weeks and months but, if it does all hold together, if it does seem like it’s a fairly optimized design then I’ll be doing a full 3D animated construction tutorial, how to build the thing itself and then everyone can make one, if
they want one So basically this is a very good result. This is a very good result. I’m pretty happy with this. All right let’s see how easy this is. Yep, pretty easy. [Struggles] And there she goes. The previous test the
propeller was down the bottom and the water was coming down past it, which is
generally how these things are done and feels more intuitively like how a
turbine should be. With like a Pelton or a Turgo like the more usual like twenty
meters, hundred meters of head running a bunch of pipe and having like a jet of
water onto like a spinning like turbine wheel then you need to put the turbine
at the end obviously that’s where the pressure is at bottom but that’s not how
this turbine works this turbine works by getting as much water moving as
quickly as possible not, like the pressure difference between the start
and in the end isn’t where the power is coming from the power is coming from the momentum, so it’s more like a wind turbine in principle then then a water
turbine like a Turgo or a Pelton.

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About the Author: John Markowski


  1. 3:56 with this set-up you could easily get more force by installing the generator at the bottom of the flue rather than the top.

  2. YouTube algorithm on point! I've been wanting to do exactly this but didn't really have access to a good site until recently.

  3. Wauw that is awesome! Hope you make it easily and assesible for people in the 3rd world and also make a lowercost design 40 Euroes is not much for people in the 1st world but kinda miss the target for people who live for less than a Euro pr day for example…. but things can always be optimized 🙂

  4. Great video but those plastic blades won't hold up to 500watts once you put a load to it. I tried and it didn't work with 500 watt light as load. I ended up buying the blades. They look like spoons with a notch cut out of it.

  5. The real issue with hydro systems is that they wear out… A 5 minute test is meaningless. How does this perform after 6 months of use? How much usable power?

  6. So … I'm guessing you've thought about combining this system with a pump, to create a hydro battery for your other systems right?

  7. Thanks for all the helpful comments. I'm currently in Berlin working on optimising the design, including ways to maximise the rpms and voltage, so as to be able to have less load for more power overall, and try to hone in on that hundreds of watts figure.
    I'll be publishing all the results in a future video soon. Any suggestions and recommendations for ways forward are certainly appreciated.
    And if you have any technical questions let me know.

  8. Like what you are doing.
    Just a question, could you put another turbine on the pipe going down to use twice the water

  9. hello from France, I have made a pelton turbine, it's working well. There is a very big diference between loaded and unloaded. I plan to build a low head turbine, similar at your, , but no syphon, direct from the flume. I plan to use as propeler a waveruner ( jetsky in french) propeler. they are make to work in a "pipe". I have a few video in my youtube chanel : cristof48

  10. 5Hi there, really do not want to be a small rain parade. My experience with all of this is fairly extensive by this point. Voltage is one of the considerations that tells us RPM. Current draw is the basis for the actual load applied…not just a voltage meter. If you put an actual 50 watt load on the system I believe your RPM would drop to 25% of the reading that you are getting now at possibly 12 to 14 volts which would need to supply a 4 amp output to be 50 watts. It is very deceptive until you completely understand the full process. Hopefully that is not a bummer for you and maybe I am all wet in my summary…just did not see a bulb or motor or something pulling off power other than a meter and that does not count in the real world…

  11. Absolutely brilliant! Keep up the awesome work!

    I'm curious: have you come across Open Source Ecology? ( These guys were a flash in the pan several years ago but they seem to have fizzled out. They touted the global village construction set. Though, the main branch in the USA got stuck re-iterating their open-source tractor and habitation projects but have since disappeared.

  12. Brilliant job as always, Daniel! Kudos!

    I'm wrestling with zero head hydro power at the moment, but I too have been looking at e-scooter or hoover-board motors for the application, but I might need something even smaller for optimizing for my very small stream… I wish I had head like that… (The village Ram Pump is occupying our only good head and flow)

  13. I only just realised that the 55 volts I was measuring was from two of the three AC phases, and so the post rectification DC voltage would actually be closer to 90V, which means, other than less line losses, I only have to apply a 3 to 4 amp load to get more than 200 watts output, depending on how much that drops the revs and therefor voltage.
    I also know some people currently working on a hack for hoverboard wheel which uses a load braking controller board to short the generation coils and (hopefully) significantly bump up the volts per rev, at the cost of a little efficiency.

  14. Thanks for sharing your work! I’m especially interested in seeing what you learn for low head performance. Great job!

  15. Moving that water might be illegal. There is a system people use in order to use that water for something. Actually I am sure it is illegal.

  16. What do the local authorities have to say about you setting up a contraption on a government owned aqueduct and dumping a considerable amount of water into a small stream? How long do you anticipate this lasting when not protected from the weather?

  17. This is amazing, as it is cost-effective. Just wondering if one need to be close to a river or stream for effective pumping or if one could dig a well and work out the mechanism to pump the water for circulation? I’m from Lagos, Nigeria and I’ve been looking for ways to have a constant or steady power supply without depending on the national grid. Option of wind turbine is way too expensive, but this seem really cool. I would also like to know if you guys are on Facebook or Twitter, please? Thanks!

  18. Have you seen the video on Brown's gas I think it's from the late 70s or mid to mid-80s somewhere in there might be Australian anyway in the video they put a pipe in a 5 gallon bucket of water with a hydrolysis unit that uses direct current low voltage electricity to release the hydrogen and oxygen up into their pipe and when it gets up to the top they ignited which causes an implosion which immediately drains the bucket of water and transfers it up to the next level sort of like a ram pump in theory

  19. Bonjour, pour hêtre 100/100 plus efficace il suffit de passer dans le tuyau un câble avec des rondelles attaché au câbles tout les 50 cm, lorsque la colonne pvc est pleine la force de traction est énormes selon la hauteur de chute d eau à vous de combiné une rotation avec 2 roue de vélo par exemple

  20. The amount of power produced not worth wasting the huge amount of water used for plant growth. And very little people have access to this source of water.

  21. I'm trying to make a low head stream generator, only have a 1 meter drop. I never thought of using hoover board motor. Thanks for the ideas. I can not wait to see your final plans. I may be able to use them instead and do a straight flow system.

  22. Thanks for sharing but, just a point of annoyance… this is a $50 genny IF you already have a bunch of equipment and materials. Subscribed and turned on notifications! THANKS!!!!!!!


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