An everyday problem for people who love camping, traveling, and outdoor exploration is the lack of a reliable power source. In areas where electricity is not readily available, a depleted battery of a mobile phone, handheld GPS, or other electronic tool is a concern not only for productivity but also for safety. For example, backpackers may need to make an emergency call, or researchers may require an electronic instrument or communication device to be running for extended periods of time that exceed their battery lives. Thus it is critical to have a readily accessible power source to provide power to appliances. 

Solar power might be considered a solution to these problems, however, most portable solar panels do not generate a significant amount of power (usually less than 5 W, only enough to charge a mobile phone but not a laptop). Another disadvantage of solar panels is that they rarely achieve their maximum power outputs, which would correspond to direct sunlight on a summer day.

The kinetic energy in flowing water that can be converted to electrical energy is much greater than the maximum solar energy that is available on a practical surface area of a solar panel (up to 3x greater energy generated for a flow of 1m/s and up to 20x greater energy for a flow of 2m/s). The flow of a river is reliable and relatively consistent over time, making natural sources of waterflow an invaluable resource for harvesting energy and a viable solution for power generation via a portable hydroturbine.

Yet another significant application of the hydroturbine would be to help supply power to developing countries and villages around the world that lack the infrastructure for reliable power. An affordable, compact hydroturbine could be the means to electricity even in the most underdeveloped areas of the world, and anywhere there is a natural water source.

Alasdair Gray,
Apr 22, 2015, 12:13 AM