Take Me to the River: Gadget Harnesses Energy From Rushing Water

A low-cost way to harness energy from a rushing river provides a viable solution for remote communities.
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A low-cost way to harness energy from a rushing river provides a viable solution for remote communities.
Mobile Hydro

Photo Credit: Mobile Hydro

Tidal and wave energy are too expensive to be considered mainstream sources of power, but a new development from a German engineering team shows the potential of using tidal energy in remote communities.

The team has called their idea the Mobile Hydro, which is a floating rubber ring with three rotors. It is portable and can provide continuous power, unlike solar and wind energy. However, its energy potential isn't huge.

The ring is moored to a bank and turns its blades with the help of the natural swirl of the river. A generator captures the energy and transfers it to a battery and transformer kit on the bank.

"The main target is isolated areas without grid connections. In a few steps, local energy providers, small business holders, farmers, and households can produce electricity at minimum costs," said Andreas Zeiselmair, who is working on a second prototype with his colleagues, Markus Heinsdorff and Christoph Helf. They hope to have a full product ready by the end of the year.

Fast Company reports that the team is hoping to achieve a continuous power output of 300 watts, which can power a fridge or TV. They also have plans to carry out pilot projects in Latin America, East Africa and India next year.

It is very mobile," said Zeiselmair. "It's lightweight with a small packing size, which makes it perfect if you're changing locations a lot."

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