Here's a novel way to get a little more out of time spent in the bathroom. An industrial design student at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, has created a clever power generator that turns falling wastewater into electricity. The HighDro Power is a waterwheel-like turbine that can be incorporated into the pipes of tall buildings to turn one man's waste into another man's wattage.
Student Tom Broadbent's inspiration came when he emptied a bath in a hotel room and it drained quite quickly and with impressive force. He started tinkering around with ideas for harnessing the kinetic energy that accompanies each drained sink or flushed toilet, using rapid prototyping machines and vacuum forming to create the parts. The result: a four-blade turbine that drives a small generator.
Installed in series in a tall building, those generators can return quite a bit of power either to the building itself or to the grid. It's estimated that HighDro Power can save a seven-storey building more than $1,000 per year in energy costs (though this estimate fails to specify how many of the units you would need, the footprint of the building, or the nature of its occupancy – still, $1,000!).
Broadbent has entered the device in the Grand Designs Live show and the Dyson Awards competition, where it very well could rack up some accolades (and some seed cash for a commercial version). Until it hits the market, try not to feel too guilty knowing that each time you visit the restroom you're flushing perfectly good electricity right down the toilet.
Little do people realize that I invented this a time ago, but it was to collect kinetic energy from downspouts in areas with high amounts of rainfall.
- wise up
This is AWESOME! I'm upset I didn't come up with it.
I'll probably change it a little bit and market it better and still make a killing. ;-)
Well, how does it perform with crap (literally) forming on the blades? Unless you want to pollute the earth with double the plumbing, it will not work as "grey" water drains are attached to toilets also. It's another "waste" of an idea. :P
It will cost more and overall be worse for the environment than it would be left alone. Consider the environmental impact if building the generators, electronics to convert to grid, etc. Not to mention the diesel truck driving sewer technicians to come on site to clean the blades out. Then after all that, what happens when the previously high pressure drain spewed in the sewer with so much force that it kept itself clean, but now that this product is installed, water moves slower and buildup occurs.
So no, this guy wasn't the first to come up with the idea, he is the first to create it because of an obsessive-compulsive disorder (which most mental "green" people have trying to be "green" at any cost or even outcome). It wasn't done before because it's just a crappy idea :P
Haha, I really enjoyed that last comment!
You are right about the OCD
Yah, the primary flaw in this concept is definitely the cost of goods vs the savings in energy. The cost of the generator, installation, and maintenance would probably take a decade to recoup with energy savings, just like with solar panels.
There is power in poop!
Come on guys lets not attack the idea without thinking first.
The building would be designed for this function and most likely the shower, sinks, and tubs would be piped to these and the toilet would not.
There would be dozens of these in a row to recoup as much power as possible.
Production costs go down with volume.
It's not the best idea but it is feasible.
This idea is similar to my idea "the Traffic Wheel", which uses the gravity of cars entering the roadway from a higher level to produce large amounts of energy. Check out my concept at jaso888n.deviantart(dotcom)
If it where perfectly efficient it could provide enough energy to pump the water up the building... thats all
This is probably a decent idea for tall buildings, but they will probably have to separate the drains to avoid the issues noted above. Kitchen garbage disposals would be another issue.
As a homeowner, however, I wouldn't allow it in the house. Anyone who has ever battled sewer clogs will almost certainly agree with me.
Greywater does not include 'crap' from toilets. "Greywater is wastewater generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing which can be recycled on-site for uses such as landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands. Greywater differs from water from the toilets which is designated sewage or blackwater to indicate it contains human waste."
You said to consider the environmental impact of building and installing the generator and its infrastructure. As opposed to what? Not providing electricity to the building at all (the infrastructure) or not building power generation anymore anywhere?
"It’s estimated that HighDro Power can save a seven-storey building more than $1,000 per year in energy costs"
Gathering materials and producing electricity costs energy. If over the lifetime of the product it saves more energy than that spent in its production, installation, and maintenance than the net effect in beneficial.
High pressure is not required to clear a sewage drain, most sewage drains are not high pressure, and relying on high pressure water flow to clear a sewage drain is both wasteful and inefficient.
Also, you clearly have no idea what obsessive compulsive disorder is.
Thank you for your time.
P.S. You're an idiot.
Sir or Ma'am,
You said, "The cost of the generator, installation, and maintenance would probably take a decade to recoup with energy savings, just like with solar panels.".
Luckily solar panels (and hopefully this device) last around 20 years. One method of shortening the ROI period would be to lease the equipment or get a 20 year loan for it. As long as the interest rates on the loan do not exceed the amount of money being saved you would have a net reduction in overhead.
Thank you for listening,
Did you in fact read the article?
"The HighDro Power is a waterwheel-like turbine that can be incorporated into the pipes of tall buildings" See the second to last word in that quote from the article?
That is all.
You said, "If it where perfectly efficient it could provide enough energy to pump the water up the building... thats all".
You are ignoring context here. You think if they don't install this device the building manager will decide its ok to just not pump water up the building? They will be doing that regardless. However it is possible to recoup some of that energy which gravity provides on its journey back down. Currently that energy is being wasted.
There's this really cool thing you should try. It is called 'thinking'. I've heard really good things about it.
I also would like to post this from the article popsci referenced, "The whole thing was influenced by traditional waterwheels to ensure that any solids passing through had limited effects on whether they could function."
You naysayers love to say why things won't work. You arrogantly presumed that only you can think of all the problems that occur and that these would never occur to an engineer.
May I ask what you all do for a living?
WOW! I think it is a brilliant idea. I am a researcher from Philippines. As I research about energy I found out that there are many ways to consume energy. I also appreciate solar energy. When I research in google.com I found this Site.
There are many advantages when it comes to solar energy.
This is a great idea. I do hope this guy reads the comments because I believe that he could design a different turbine just for bath water that spins at a higher speed and can generate more power.
This idea is a fantastic concept however I have a much better idea does anyone how I can contact this chap?
Change happens in small increments. The fact that he, and many others like him, are taking those small steps for positive change is far more important than whether or not his device is perfect. No form of power is perfect and no avenue of technology will perfectly replace what we have now.
There was an invention that won a international inventions award a few month back. It involves installing mini power generator on the water line that's coming into the house. I think that will be easier to install, and you don't need a tall building to do it. It's cleaner too.
I agree with Gwgang. Pressure Reducing valves on the inlet coming into the house (or to industry for that matter) waste huge amounts of energy, why not generate from this energy and create the required head loss at the same time? There is no reason why both of these concepts could be used together....
Smart idea using the downward pressure to move a turbine to generate. Mentioned was the idea of using the upward flow pressure to generate. Why not have a 2 sided turbine with the generator in between using a slip type clutch that will turn the generator with either or both turbines working at the same time. Or 2 generators side by side same principal. For that matter a swimming pool public or private runs a filtering system pretty frequently. What about the public water filtering system for waste. JoeB
I have to say, JFrazer1 judging by his emotional involvement with this article, measured by his need to use insulting and degrading comments, must either be the mother of Mr. Broadbent, be Mr. Broadbent himself, or the gay lover of Mr. Broadbent.
I'm guessing the last choice is the correct one.
But then again, I might just be a very unkind individual seeing things that aren't there.... Then again....
I don't know about you but when i accidentally shave in the shower, it all goes down the drain...clogged the generator, dam again literally, the electricity went out again!