Sunday, March 31, 2019

Repairing our hydro power dam in pictures.

We finally got around to repairing the 1820's stone and cement dam that had been holding a very small impoundment (1000 gal) of water for our private hydro power plant.
We built the plant in 2006-7 and ran autonomously off the grid until 2014 when we got net metered to the grid. We would freeze up every winter when temps dropped below zero due to too little water above the intake.
The repaired, improved and strengthened dam will give us deeper water above the intake and protect against catastrophic failure incase of flood carried boulders pounding the back of the dam.
This story begins with a short movie clip of the 2, 2011 storms, one two punch, named Irene and lee taken just upstream from the dam. The intake flume is on the left and barely survived.
Note the force with which the water carrying boulders hits the vertical back of the old dam.

   The plywood covers a collection box for a possible future Coanda screen for summer operation.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

As a small (20kW) micro hydro, pico grid installation, our local utility deemed our few connected residences, "commercial, demand net metered". The surprising effect (to me) was that we incur demand charges no matter the direction of power flow. So the greater the energy support we provide to a sagging grid the greater the demand charges to us. Not fair! 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Approaching two years of grid storage operation.

To date we have accumulated about 40,000 kWh stored excess in the grid after almost 2 years of grid connected operation while powering 3 homes. Our local utility has taken about 12,000 kWh of this total to pay for our use of their wires to SEND them the power. They assess DEMAND / DELIVERY charges regardless of which way the power flows. At least they finally stopped taking our $ and are now just taking our stored kWh's to pay the commercial demand / delivery charges.

All the data logger can hold shows the seasonal water availability.

The data logged the last whole month shows the daily use patterns and the waning water as summer drought set in.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Turbine RPM / Valve Control with Programmable Logic (Arduino)

A small niobium magnet attached (tape works) to the turbine/generator shaft creates a narrow pulse at pin 2 of the Arduino for each revolution. The Arduino program checks the time between pulses, calculates the RPM, and makes the AC motor that operates the butterfly valve run in a direction so as to keep the RPM constant. There are some fancy PID (Proportional Integral Differential) loops programmed in to keep things stable. Here is the diagram.
I could not upload a more readable PDF here but I can email it to you if you drop me a line.
I think I posted the Arduino program elsewhere on this blog. This link will get you to a simplified schematic of the hall sensor / Arduino hookup.   I'm still trying to use their schematic editor on a Mac but it is frustratingly windows centric, not intuitive -- yet, but I'll keep at it, so expect more clarity.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Schematics, diagrams and programming code.

- Schematics is the language of electronics. It provides a concise and comprehensive diagrammatic description of a circuit. allows users to connect and share designs and ideas in a like-minded community.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

BMH Documentation (Draft)

BMH Power Plant Engineers Operating Manual
August 2014
Robert J. Honders Sr. C.E.


A micro hydro turbine driving an induction generator is like a finely tuned instrument. It runs most efficiently when water flow and head pressure resonate mechanically with the turbine geometry and the rotational speed. The rotational speed generates a precise pitch of 60 cycles per second which in turn is tuned to resonate (electrically) with the load and a bank of capacitors to keep currents oscillating through the copper windings of the generator and create magnetic fields in synchrony which in turn produce the current that we can use to light up our lives.

Since there are significant energy flows to be controlled and contained, it is important to understand how to control the energy smoothly, avoiding sudden surges or stepwise impacts in both the electrical as well as the hydraulic circuits.  The operator, typically an engineer or highly trained technician, must understand, and be able to predict the result of turning On or Off any circuit breaker, switch or valve before actually touching a breaker, valve or controlling device. (In many localities grid-connected power plants are required to be operated under the supervision of an engineer.) Always check the readouts first to find out what loads are being powered when making any changes, and try to anticipate the result of the adjustment and the effects on the connected load. This manual will explain each switch, breaker, valve and controller and the function each serves.

This manual will give the procedures for startup of the plant, planned shutdown, unplanned shutdown and subsequent startup procedure. Monitoring and metering will also be explained. It may be useful for the more experienced operator to refer to the diagrams for further insight to the operation of this plant.

Conventions and Definitions as they apply to the Buttermilk Micro Hydro plant:
(Starting from the top.)

Storm Water Diversion: currently a pair of logs placed at an angle ~12 feet upstream from the water intake. Their function is to protect the down stream intake structures during extreme weather events. (Maintenance or future enhancement / automation project.)

Water flow measuring weir: located immediately upstream from the water intake. Functions to get an approximate measure of total water flow reaching the intake. (Maintenance or future enhancement / automation project.)

Slide gate: at the entry to the flume, function is to shut off water at the water intake during severe weather events or flume repairs.

Water intake: the 8” x 48” rectangular opening in the upstream end of the flume.

Warm water feed: the warm Honderosa spring water fed via (blue) underground pipe that keeps the water intake from freezing closed during most subzero winter nights.

Flume: the structure that currently carries the water from the water intake to the gravel baffle (and screening) box. (Maintenance or future enhancement /automation project.)

Minimum flow bypass: the circular opening in the flume bottom that insures the escape of a minimum of 200 Gallons / minute to keep the waterfall hydrated. (Maintenance or future enhancement / automation project.)

Gravel baffle box: the 4’ x 4’ x 5’ high (wood) box (Maintenance and / or future enhancement / automation project.) with the integral second gravel chamber and attached first gravel chamber, ball and chain flush valves, moving screen, screen drive mechanism, head valve, head valve drive / operator, and attached to the flume upstream and the penstock down the hill. 

Gravel Chambers: the first gravel chamber removes most negative buoyancy material (sand, gravel, small rocks) that did not fall out of the minimum flow bypass. 
The second gravel chamber mostly collects fine sand and mud. (Maintenance or future enhancement / automation project.)

Moving screen: the HDPE conveyor belt screen that functions to keep floating or neutral debris (leaves, sticks, seed pods) from going down the penstock and clogging the turbines. The screen duty cycle can be adjusted so it does not clog itself with heavy debris loads or frazzle ice formation. (Maintenance and / or future enhancement /automation project.)

Frazzle ice: the slushy watery ice that forms in the shallower upstream rapids as water is super-cooled during sub zero nights. The frazzle ice solidifies immediately when it meets any cold or metal surface and blocks water flow. Once ice covers the stream no further frazzle ice will form and the water will run unimpeded underneath the ice cover, more so if snow also covers the ice. Even water falling vertically will be covered with ice.

Head valve: the butterfly valve and operator (motor and drive circuitry) at the bottom outlet of the gravel baffle box where the penstock connects.

Penstock: the 8” insulated or buried steel pipe that keeps the water contained as the pressure increases going down to the powerhouse.

In the Power House

Green LED: indicates normal, OK, valve open, valve opening, green condition.
Red LED: indicates fault, valve closed, valve closing, red condition.

Orange Neon: on the reverse power relay box indicates no power or reverse power flow from grid to generator. The Orange will extinguish when generator is operating normally and producing power.

NO: Normally Open contacts / circuit
NC: Normally Closed contacts / circuit

Manual Water Controlling Devices
Valve1: The large PVC valve with red hand wheel that controls water flow to GEN1.
Valve2: The large PVC valve with red hand wheel that controls water flow to GEN2.
Valve3: The large PVC valve with red hand wheel in the middle that controls the dumping of water and debris into the discharge pit.

Rotating Machinery:
GEN1: Smaller 10kW turbine / generator
GEN2: Larger 15kW turbine / generator

Electro-mechanical Controlling Devices:
Rotork1: Valve and valve controller on GEN1 functions to automatically keep the speed of GEN1 constant when set to AUTO. In MANUAL mode the valve is controlled with the OPEN / CLOSE switch and the position of the valve is given by the red pointer in the window on the valve controller.
Rotork2: Valve and valve controller on GEN2 functions to automatically keep the speed of GEN2 constant when set to AUTO. In MANUAL mode the valve is controlled with the OPEN / CLOSE switch and the position of the valve is given by the red pointer in the window on the valve controller.

Electrical – Electronic controlling devices:
Main distribution panel
The main panel is 3 phase at 480V - Do not remove covers, shut off all power, use extreme caution if servicing. Capacitors can hold a charge long after removing power.

The breakers are electrically divided in two groups, the top four are the LOADS:
Top two 30 Amp, 480V breakers control current flow to each of the two residential loads.
The next two control the power to the powerhouse and powerhouse instrumentation.
The bottom six are the 2 GENERATORS, excitation capacitors and dump load.

The LOADS  are connected to the GENERATORS by relay2 (RY2) mounted top center on Main Distribution Panel. This relay is controlled by the Reverse Power Relay/Controller which will disconnect the GENERATORS from the loads should the GENERATORS fail or starve for water.

The GENERATORS section (bottom six) starts 3rd down from top of the panel and has:
Third fr bottom left 40Amp,    GEN1,       Third fr bottom right, 15 Amp,     C1
Second fr bottom Left, 40 Amp GEN2,    Second fr bottom right 15 Amp, C2
Bottom left, 15 Amp  Dump Load.            Bottom right, 30 Amp,              C3 
will add more, see comment balloons on Buttermilk manual 1.2.PDF

I. Start-up of water flow at intake

During warm weather months the flow of water to the turbine may be started (acquire ‘green’ condition) by following these steps.

The initial conditions are:

a. All power house valves closed, No water flow.
b. GEN(1 and 2) Rotork in manual / local mode and operated to CLOSED position.
c. Utility power present and fed through to home loads. In home transfer switches in Normal mode, (not Utility / Emergency).

1. Insure that there is at least enough flow in the stream to support turbine/GEN1 operation. This can be judged by observing the flow into the flume via top of falls web cam or standing on the flume looking upstream, the water should cover ~80% of the width of the sloping bedrock stone weir, or within ~20% of the right side of the flume. (This measurement method should be refined when the temporary intake structures are made permanent by having a constant slope and marks ground or cemented into the trailing edge of the bedrock leading into the flume.)

2. Check that the moving screen (trash rack) is clear and operational. (see:Moving Screen Maintenance) Flush the 1st and 2nd sand and gravel settling chambers by pumping the ball valves (via stainless chains) up and down several times or until the water flows clean from the flush opening. (This procedure should be refined when the temporary intake structures are made permanent.)

3. Open the head valve. The head valve can be operated from the powerhouse by a single push of the button on the Head Valve and Communications control box, observing the green LED for valve open and red LED for valve closed. An additional red/green LED lights only while the valve is moving to its newly commanded position, which takes ~100 seconds. Each push of the button reverses the operation of the head valve from open to close and vice versa with a 2 second delay.

Allow the penstock to fill - when the pressure gauge registers 90psi and is steady the penstock can be assumed full.
Insure trash rack is operational and cycling on for about 1 minute and off for 3 minutes. Continuous operation of the trash rack can currently be implemented manually from a control box at the top of the falls in the old pump house. (Maintenance or future enhancement /automation project.)

II. Start-up of co-generation. 

The initial conditions are: all the above and:

1. The ORU utility grid is assumed to be always present when starting up. If ORU fails while BMH is running, BMH continues independently, disconnected from the grid automatically, controlled via the Beckwith 3410 intertie protection device.
If not already open, open Head Valve (press button once on Head Valve and Communication box), wait for valve to open as indicated by ONE green LED. (the ‘green’ condition)
After 15 minutes check that pressure is stable at 95 PSI. (It was previously insured that a good volume of water is available in stream above and no ice/sand/gravel is present in penstock water.
(See: “Winter Icing Conditions” for cautions.)

2. Check that Utility grid power is ON. Beckwith 5 minute timer expired and ‘Output 1’ RED LED is ON and GREEN LED is blinking.

3. Top four LOAD side breakers ON. We are using grid power as indicated on the Net Grid meter lower right in Beckwith enclosure.

4. Bottom six Generator side breakers OFF. We are not making any power yet.

5. Check for nominal house meter readings of LEFT ~1-3kW, RIGHT ~ 1-3kW, NET from Grid −3kW to −8kW on Net Grid (PM620) meter in lower right hand corner of Beckwith enclosure. 

(The signs will change once the PM620ʼs are directionally adjusted to conform to Utility practice of + using grid power and  minus (-) sending power to the grid). I got this backwards but it is easy to swap the wires on one CT to correct this.)

6. Check that REV PWR RESET is set to OFF (down) (located under Beckwith 3410)

7. OPEN the GEN 1 or 2 (which ever one is being started) manual main (RED WHEEL) valve to 50%. A red line on the valve stem indicates 50%.

8. OPEN GEN 1 or 2 Rotork in MANUAL mode to get RPM ~2000 with open / close switch.   Do NOT use the lever and hand-wheel except in case of emergency. Observe open / close LEDs in Rotork housing, after alternating red/green both should be OFF indicating speed is within range.

8. Switch REV PWR RESET to ON (up) (located under Beckwith 3410)

9. GEN1or 2 breaker ON, never both.

10. C1 breaker ON for GEN1. C1 and C2 breaker ON for GEN2. (Do not run both GENs simultaneously.)

11. Switch Rotork valve to REMOTE mode (automatic enabled). The Rotork controller should now open the valve slowly to maximum power.

12. Observe pressure gauge reading, (~90 PSI GEN 1, ~80PSI GEN 2), holding steady, not dropping for lack of water at the top or too much power input to GEN2. If too much power revert to MANUAL control, Rotork 5/8 open 80 psi on the Penstock pressure meter.
Check that the Reverse Power Relay ORANGE light is OFF after a few minutes.
Check PM620 Grid Power, Summary kW3Ø 5 to15 depending on house loading.
Check that the sum of power (KW) of NET GRID + LEFT  house meter + RIGHT house meter is about 10KW when operating GEN1 and 15KW when operating GEN2.
Check that power factor, PF3Ø is +or- 0.90 or as close to 1.000 as you can get by switching breaker C2 and/or C3. Closer to 1.00 is better. If PF3Ø is - (negative) then turn off C3 if you can get closer to +or- 1.00
Check that the pressure remains stable at ~90 PSI GEN 1, ~80PSI GEN2.

If it is raining/snowing be sure to set the trash screen to continuous mode to prevent clogging.

13. GEN1or2 set the Rotork valve controller to REMOTE (automatic enabled).

14. Set (LEFT and RIGHT) house meters to read kW3Ø. (if not already setup)

15. Switch REV PWR RESET to ON (down) (This may change with further automation.)

III. Shut-down of water flow.

During warm weather months the flow of water to the generator may be stopped (‘red’ condition) by closing either the head valve, the manual valves, or the Rotorks in the powerhouse and following this sequence:

The initial conditions are:
a. Head Valve open, normal water flow. ‘Green’ condition.
b. GEN(1 or 2) operating, Rotork in automatic control mode.
c. Utility power present and BMH power fed back to grid and through to homes, transfer switches in Normal mode, never Utility / Emergency. (This can be assured by opening the main breaker, interrupting the O&R ‘Emergency’ source from the ASCO transfer switch at the house.)

Sequence to follow:
1. Set the GEN(1 or 2) Rotork to Manual.
2. Switch REV PWR RESET to OFF (up) (located under Beckwith 3410)
3. Set the Rotork to manual / local control mode.
4. While observing the Valve position indicator on the Rotork operate the valve to its fully closed position. All should be quiet now.
5. Turn off all (lower) Generator side breakers. Do not touch the upper 4 Load side breakers.
During cold weather months or anytime there is a danger that BMH may stop generating power it is best to switch REV PWR RESET to OFF (up) (this will change with further automation.)

During cold weather months the stream water flow must be kept from entering the penstock by:
1. Lowering the slide at the entry to the flume. (needs improvements with the rebuild)
2. Pull up 10” and hook both gravel flush ball valves.
3. Check that warm water flows down penstock to keep it from freezing solid.
4. Turn off all (lower) Generator side breakers. Do not touch the upper 4 Load side breakers.

Winter Icing Conditions — CAUTION

Over the years I have made continual improvements to the ‘temporary’ intake structures to mitigate some of the problems with slush and ice in winter, leaves in the fall, sand gravel, rocks, logs and debris washed down every time it rains more than an inch or two overnight.

Most winter problems would be greatly reduced or eliminated if there was a deeper reservoir to draw water below the surface ice layer, but not so low as to suck up sand and gravel. ( An 8” high x 48” wide opening just above the low, upstream, end of the moving screen could be opened to take water in through the screen if the water level is raised just above this opening.) The first fall excursions to single digit temperatures will probably not cause slushy (frizzle ice) water. But after a day or two of sub-zero nights frizzle ice will start to dam up flowing water especially any place where there is the slightest restriction or shallow water flow. So the first problem occurs under the storm water diversion logs which will definitely have to be repositioned or removed in winter. This means that they probably will not be able to be repositioned before the spring thaws to deflect the likely storm waters.

The second problem area is the 8”x48” primary intake at the upstream end of the flume. The water arrives super cooled to below freezing, carrying slush. Icicles form along the top edge of the 48” wide opening and grow rapidly together to the bottom of the flume and, with the slush, completely block the inlet in short order. Then the upstream water rises until it flows around the plugged up intake opening, dropping the head pressure, and starving the turbine.

Shutting down the power plant under these conditions is both difficult and risky. The valve stems and motor drivers tend to be frozen in place or are unable to close completely because of the cold and icing. This allows a trickle of water to continue down the pipe with increased likelihood of freezing inside the penstock. All means should be employed to keep a flow of water going down the penstock to keep that from freezing solid and potentially bursting or splitting or having it frozen until spring thaws. To facilitate this I have installed piping that carries warm water (45°F) from our hillside spring (and domestic water supply) to the intake structures. This warm water is normally directed to the intake opening to keep that from freezing but if a complete shutdown in winter is desired then the warm water is redirected to the penstock in the trash conveyor enclosure by a diversion valve (yet to be installed). Then to complete a safe shutdown both gravel dump ball valves must be lifted 10 inches and chained open. The slide gate at the upstream intake should be slid all the way down to minimize water entry. Now the only water going down the penstock should be the warm 45° water from the spring.

Exercise extreme caution when restarting the plant after a shutdown forced by extreme cold. It is possible for ice to come loose from the penstock walls and damage valves, pipes and turbines. If ice in the penstock is a possibility then the dump valve should be opened slightly to allow a low flow (~60GPM) through for 8 to 12 hours to insure all the ice is melted before starting the turbine /generator.

The most risky procedures in plant operation are shut down and startup. A running plant is far less prone to be damaged by nature or human error.

Gravel baffle box, aka Trash rack / conveyor.

The Gravel baffle box is still the (2007) original temporary wood construction and needs to be reconstructed of more durable materials. At the same time the badly worn down concrete and stone dam needs to be restored to its original height as planned in this earlier graphic:

The rebuilt trash conveyor box may be left in the current place and configuration with just an 8” x 48” opening added to the upstream side just above the lower end of the trash conveyor belt  to allow water to enter. The trash conveyor has been very effective in minimizing fall leaf drop and debris problems. The higher water level behind the dam will minimize freezing problems in winter.

The Gravel Baffle Box: Raising the water level behind the low stone dam will minimize winter icing problems.

Net metering

The ORU Net Meter

The debiting and crediting of kWh is done inside the ORU NET METER in real time as power flows back and forth as local demand and generation fluctuates.

Beckwith M3410 Grid Intertie Protection Relay

The Beckwith relay monitors the grid side of the system. If the grid goes out of normal bounds it will separate BMH from the grid. During normal BMH-grid-connected operation, if the grid goes out of bounds it will also pull BMH out of bounds with it.
(Approximate bounds are: 59.3 Hz to 60.5 Hz and 211.2v to 288V for a 240 V system)
When the programmed trip point is reached the Beckwith will separate BMH from the defunct grid and the BMH valve controller will attempt to match local generation to the new load conditions for OFF GRID operation, sparing the line men working on the dead grid, while continuing autonomous (also called 'islanded') operation.

Reverse Power Relay

The Reverse Rower Relay will monitor the direction of energy flow in the connection between the BMH generator and everything else. If the water flow decreases or stops and the generator output starts to drop below a programmable minimum, the Reverse Rower Relay will open the relay in the
generator connection, preventing grid power from flowing to the idled generator and causing it to 'motor'. Refer to the One Line Diagram to see more detail, or the Power House wiring diagram for even more detail.


All monitoring functions are provided via webserver at:
After entering a username and password all real time data as well as accumulated totals may be read remotely using a standard web browser. (Chrome / Mac seems to work the best.)

Grid Supply to BMH Generation

The Beckwith 3410 automatically switches from ORU to BMH and vice versa, depending on the adequacy of BMH generation to meet the demands of LEFT house meter and RIGHT house meter distribution.

Individual ORU Accounts and Automatic Transfer Switches

With all electrical service to home LOADs drawn through BMH, the individual accounts with ORU, as well as the automatic transfer switches previously installed, are redundant and unnecessary.
ORU residential accounts may be discontinued. When BMH operation is disrupted, grid power is  directed to each residence through the BMH account, using energy credit accrued.

Distributed Intelligent Load Controllers (DILCs)

DILCs installed on water heaters, clothes dryers or other high-demand appliances were intended to modify the jolt of instant demand on the BMH system by ramping-up the power from BMH to the appliance, thereby lessening brown-outs or other effects on the system. With the grid connection, the system reactive power is greater, and thus able to handle the fluctuating loads and obviating the need for the DILCs.

Impeller Cleaning

As long as the trash screen is in place and operational and gravel is flushed after every heavy rain fall, cleaning of turbines is unnecessary.

Generator Bearing Replacement

Depending on technical expertise available the job of generator bearing replacement maybe too cumbersome to be done in the powerhouse. At the point that bearings become worn and need replacement, the turbine and generator may be disconnected from the system and taken to a qualified pump repair service.

The video overview.

Ask the Renewable Energy Guru: Matching Impeller diameter, head, and generator RPM in a Pump as Turbine Micro Hydro

Ask the Renewable Energy Guru: Matching Impeller diameter, head, and generator RPM in a Pump as Turbine Micro Hydro

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Matching Impeller diameter, head, and generator RPM in a Pump as Turbine Micro Hydro

Mike from Vermont said "...there is an existing dam which is in good shape (built by the state many decades ago), with  about 40’ of head, and at least 7 cfs of flow the majority of the year.  ...Based on this VERY limited information, and based on your experiences, do you think a pump could be a good option or should I stick with the crossflow? 

Mike, I think a split case pump to handle 4500G/min at 40' of head might be big, expensive to buy new and not as efficient as a as a crossflow. So unless you can pick one up for scrap iron price I'd stick with a cross flow. 

But keep your options open while you work on the intake structures, penstock, powerhouse and valving. When I started building 8 years ago I thought to just try a used PaT, Pumps as Turbine on 200' of head and ~1000Gal/min, half expecting having to go to Francis or Turgo turbines at 10X the cost. But the PaTs have worked out really well and reliably, only a few % less efficient, and much cheaper, widely available, and easy to repair / find parts. I control water flow to each turbine with a motorized butterfly valve very effectively. There is a bit of noisy turbulent flow at very restricted flow settings but that never occurs during normal operation, and would not be a problem with lower head pressures at all as long as the valve is sized properly.

(Rough rules of thumb, if the smallest port (pressure side) on PaT is 6" use an 8" motorized butterfly valve and a minimum of 14" diameter of penstock pipe if it is not too long.
I don't advertise this, but if you have read this far and email me numbers for your head, flow, pipe length and material, and number of degrees of bends if any, then I can give you better numbers for all the outputs and PaT specs just for some nice comments and feedback here.)

So, Mike, if you do go for a PaT you will need to match the pump impeller diameter to the available head to match the RPM to the generator. This dictates that you will be looking for a minimum impeller diameter and pump I/O ports that can still handle 5000Gal/min. So I estimate you'll need at least a 8"X10"X7"dia split case pump to get the full load speed up to around 900 RPM (The exact relationships you can find here and here on my blog. ) That means you are looking for a 30 - 60 HP, 8pole, 900 RPM, 3 phase, motor to use, direct coupled, as a generator. I doubt you can find motor and pump together, so you'll have to look for them individually. If you find a 10x12x larger impeller that might work also, if you cut the impeller diameter down to match the head.

Another option, to get a good impedance match for maximum power transfer, is to belt couple the generator to the PaT and tune the generator RPM with suitable pulley diameter ratios. This will incur a small % loss in the belt drive and have a slightly increased maintenance cost. 

The definitive test to see how well your equipment is matched up to your head and flow for maximum power is that your PaT and MaG with no (electrical) load should spin at around 2X the full load RPM.

FL RPM in the case of the 8 pole MaG is around 910 rpm, so 1820 just free wheeling. Adjust the impeller diameter downward to get the no load speed up close to 1800.

For a video overview see:

Happy Hydro

Monday, September 16, 2013

Some Energy Basics

Some answers, can you guess the questions? 

Yep, I am asked about pumping water back up the hill about once a week. And I'm not saying 'never works' , only that you'll never get more energy out than is put in. 

In some cases it pays! If electric costs at night are 1/3 of daytime charges you could make money by using twice as much electricity to pump the water up than you will get out on the trip down through the turbo generators during daytime with rates 3X higher.

A rough approximation for power (Watts) you can get from water at a height is: Gallons per minute times feet of height all divided by 14. So with the given 12 feet and 1000 gal/min you could generate about 900 watts for 15 minutes starting with the 15000 gallon tank full. To fill the tank would take a bit more than 900 Watts for a little more more than 15 minutes, and so you would end up with a net loss of energy every time around this loop. You would be better off with just a wind mill  and some solar panels, and using storage batteries instead of the water tank scheme for storage.  

One HP is 746 Watts, so a 100 HP motor would require 74,600 Watts for however long it runs with a load. And if you want to use the motor as generator you would have to have 74,600 Watts of water power where you only have 900 Watts for 15 minutes, or 450W for 30 minutes, or 0.225 kWatt hours from you water tank. So a half HP motor would be more appropriate as a generator.

Start with these basic numbers and estimates, then decide on the size of the equipment to handle the available energy. A 100HP motor does not make 100HP unless you put that much energy into it, either electrical or mechanical shaft rotation. It only converts mechanical to electrical and vise-versa. And if you use too big a motor (energy converter) for the energy input you will waste a lot of energy in bearing friction, windage and other losses. So it is important to match your machinery to the energy source. Don't buy machinery before you determine what the available energy sources can deliver. Measure head and flow, wind velocity over time, or sunshine over time, then calculate Watts or kiloWatts available and see if this will meet your needs at a reasonable cost. With wind and solar you can install a bigger mill or more panels to get more kWatts while the wind blows or the sun shines. With water there only flows so much for so long on average and a bigger turbo-generator may not be able to run efficiently or at all during low flow periods or dry spells.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Ultimate Renewable Energy

Take away message from ICCF18, THE Cold Fusion Conference.

1. Anomalous heat, with power density far beyond what can be obtained from chemical (outer electrons, burning) reactions can be obtained routinely and repeatably.
2. If it is not chemical then the energy must come from the nucleus or its constituents as is borne out by the clear detection of transmutations, even if neutrons and other high energy particles are below easily detectable (and safe) levels.
3. AHE, LENR, CF or whatever the name, is a real and imminently more useful effect than fission because it can produce the energy of fission without the dangers or pollutants.
4. Efforts are underway, worldwide, to bring the technology to market, even absent a widely accepted theory of operation, as evidenced by successful demonstrations by several companies.
5. There is no doubt that as more testable theories are proposed the 'effect' will become better understood and be optimized for a multitude of applications including energy production.

Opening Session of ICCF18    7/21/2013

All the LENR luminaries are here including Peter Hagelstein and some that I had met up at MIT's 'Cold Fusion 101' in January '13.
Peter handed me a 'LENR intro short course' sponsored by National Security Innovation Center (NSIC) that he had prepared for the early Sunday morning session that I missed. I'll be reading that until my eyes close right after this report to my friends and family.
I've got to say that the 200 or so attendees were top notch and many known to me by name and some by sight from their research, web activities, postings and previous meetings. I have the complete list so I won't mention any more names now. 
A great many of the big names I spoke with had renewed confidence that Rossi's 'E-Cat' is for real after the independent testing and reporting that took place a couple of months ago. At the same time, none could confirm having achieved similar power gains (COP =6) with any consistency and duration. So my question, often repeated, was how long before someone else hits the magic formula / potion / catalyst or conditions that make LENR a viable power producing reaction? I have a few other questions that I hope to have answered this week at ICCF18. All in all a great start.
Will keep you posted.

Hi Condensed Matter Physics or Anomalous Heat Effects (AHE) or LENR or Cold Fusion etc. etc. followers,

No I'm not making light. This stuff is serious. Ten to twelve hours a day spent at Mizzou U and I've already got a serious headache trying to wrap my head around all I've learned. Talking ( which is not my strong suit) and listening to many scientists here, I've learned a lot about the discontinuities in the thinking about an appropriate theory that covers all the observed phenomenon. I watched the live feed from the Defkalion demonstration where the input was about 1900 Watts and the output was 5800 Watts! OK, maybe not as impressive as a gain of 6 or 60 that others have claimed but impressive to put on this kind of demonstration at this venue of 200 + knowledgable people in the field. Defkalion said they will make all the data publicly available. I have no doubt that if there is anything deceptive going on, this bunch will be all over it in a nano second. 
Another long, exciting day tomorrow. Will tour the Nano Tech facility at 4:15 tomorrow and the SKINR (LENR, AHE) labs at 11 on Thursday. Best of all are the in-depth one on one 'poster board' discussions where all related and even remotely related questions are discussed. 

More impressions from ICCF 18 in Columbia Mo. 7/2013 and some links.

A very impressive group of researchers, scientists and engineers meeting to advance the cleanest, safest form of energy ever discovered. Nearly as powerful as fission or fusion, these Anomalous Heat Effects, (AHE) discovered over 24 years ago by chemists Fleischmann and Pons, were largely ignored at the time because there appeared to be no immediate way to create military weaponry (explosions with fallout and deadly radiation) using the clean, 'atomic weak force'. Now, after nearly a quarter century, we are about to exploit AHE to solve the bigger problems threatening to destroy us all.

AHE also known as LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) and cold fusion still has a huge image problem with the general public which will need to be addressed. When we can buy a hot water heater that uses no fossil fuel and very little electricity (less than a 50 Watt light bulb on average) and with that (and a $50 nickel and hydrogen fuel cartridge) heat your whole house for a year and give you copious hot water as well, the image problem will disappear. 

The next hurtle for this to happen is regulatory (UL, CE) approvals and certifications. This being a brand new technology for home use, with a poorly chosen name and lots of vested fossil fueled interests... well, you can see that this will take a little longer even though similar devices already exist and are being tested with positive results.

Someone commented that the tools to be able to elucidate LENR phenomenon are just now being developed. I think this is only half the reason for the lethargy in LENR R and D.
It is not so much that research tools are lacking, it is more that the young scientists with the energy and zeal to apply them are absent. This became clear to me as I scanned the auditorium at ICCF18. My guess is that the average age of the 200+ attendees was somewhat past retirement age. Our educational system and the way we fund it may be the cause. Hopefully, renewed emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) will help reverse this, but only if we are willing to fund education more equitably, not based on local wealth.
The Defkalion Reactor Cross  Section 195mm X 213mm, 6KW heat output