Monday, January 16, 2012



Well I have been exploring various ways of making electricity. The latest idea is an undershot water wheel, using 19th century technology. So far, I have calculated that a paddle wheeler, as in a Pelton turbine bucket system, would be the easiest way to go. Making a 12 foot diameter wheel, and where to find the materials to do so is running through my mind at present. 12 feet diameter for ease of servicing. Also the buckets, or paddles would have to be the Pelton slope design, but last night thinking about it, I think you could built it, the flat paddle wheel design, but with sides and the end blocked. There is an argument about efficiencies being increased by the Pelton bucket design and some engineers claim the efficiency is doubled. I believe if you get over 70% efficiency it would be hard to beat. I think you could do that with a flat bucket design, with sides, made of wood, instead of round.

There is some thought a guy in WALES proposed, making wheels out of plastic, or fiberglass. Using the Poncelot design. Which is the same as the chevron treads on truck tires. The whole idea to increase efficiency, by drawing out the maximum kinetic energy of moving water at 1 mph.

The BURDEN water wheel produced 250 hp and was 62 feet in diameter and 22 feet wide in the energy area of the moving water.

There was one made in the 19th century that had a diameter of 50 ft and contained 120 bucket paddles around the diameter that produced 120 hp in torque. The buckets were the size of two - 55 gallon drums. It is hard to find data on horsepower and production kilowatts ability from the torque of paddle and bucket UNDERSHOT WATERWHEELS.

I went down to the Belize River by the Spanish Lookout ferry on Saturday morning and measured the current flow at 1 mph at the time. So I expect in deep enough water to turn a water wheel, you might get between a variation through the year, of 1 to 4 mph from the water flow.

Which brings me back to my side interest of SKILLS EDUCATION and the ability to green sand cast in Belize, a sprocketed wheel with teeth, of the diameters you would want to turn a generator. They make generators in the city that Desai is living in over in India. At the moment I do not know the type I would need, or the power available. No, I would prefer not to use leather belts, which are as difficult to get in Belize than anything else.

The bigger the diameter and width the more power you can produce. With a paddle bucket the size of half a 55 gallon drum made out of wood, I calculate approximately you might be able to produce 20 kw with a 12 foot wheel. This is a best guess estimate at the moment. Until you experiment you would never know. Then there is the idea of putting 4 such paddle wheels on the same shaft, beside each other, on a floating catamaran set of multiple floats, or perhaps you could make wheels behind each other and run them seperately turning seperate generators, such as washing machine motors? How to cut the building cost and get the maximum horsepower and kilowatts as a cost effective excercise is running through my mind currently and am simply solving the problems ONE by ONE. Theoretically! From local materials. The 19th century saw the maximum increase in water wheel technology but it goes back to a couple of centuries before CHRIST. They still build them in the USA, as tourist attractions. A water wheel, runs for about 30 years and probably is abandoned, because the owner died and the kids have moved on to the cities.

The framework made of wood, or metal ( not sure what is available and what types ).

For shaft bearings, I have been puzzling how to use a pipe shaft for the water wheel, or wheels in parallel on ths same shaft, by welding up a couple of bearing covers that can be tightened, and have local LIGNUM VITEA self oil producing hardwood pieces, used on nucleur submarine propeller shafts for the pipe to turn inside of. No need for commercial mass produced bearings. I used to use shaft bearings on my boats I made of Cabbage Bark and they worked fine. You got about an eigth of an inch wear and tear in about 3 years of operation. I had replaced the commercial cutlass bearings with CABBAGE BARK bearings and they were superior to CUTLASS BEARINGS. LIGNUM VITEA would be the right thing. NEVER wear out. In two years of asking, the local wood lumber yards have not been able to supply me with LIGNUM VITAE wood. I know Belize Estate used to export LIGNUM VITAE LOGS one time, many years ago. They were the piles of black trunk trees about the size of small telephone poles you used to see on the dock side by the olden PORT AUTHORITY.

The catamaran float deck would be made of one inch, strip planked, bronze anchor fast nails, and covered with GLUVIT expoxy and figerlass mat and cloth. There is no source locally of mixed polyurethane foam to fill the floats locally though. The rest you can buy locally.


CORKSCREW turbine. There is a new turbine system, being used for river, or no head water flows, it slopes up at about 15 to 30 degrees, so the upper end is out of the water and can be attached to run a generator. I believe the QUEEN of ENGLAND just had one installed in the palace? Or Windsor castle?

The diameter of the corkscrew effect would dictate how much horsepower torque you could produce and it is attractive as an idea. If made of welded metal sheets locally though, I think the cost would be exorbitant. So I am looking at the UNDERSHOT waterwheel as an affordable alternative. You would really need to produce about 200 hp to get any decent profit out of selling electricity to the NATIONAL GRID, BEL. The manufacture framework of the water wheel has two considerations. The weight and cost to get the strength. There is actually no weight in the buckets, as it is the UNDERSHOT design, which simplifies things a lot. Not as productive as an OVERSHOT water wheel, but if cost effective and weight conservative, more practical. How to get 200 hp torque though?

thanks Kevin!
That puts the meat in the bun for sure. Guess I will forget it!

Dear Ray

200 HP is about 110,000 foot-pounds per second.

1 mile per hour is about 1.5 feet per second. (Actually 1.4667 feet/sec)

At 100% efficiency, you would thus need a flow of about 75,000 pounds of water per second flowing through your system. That's about 9,014 US gallons per second. Or about 1,202 cubic feet of water flow per second.

With a velocity of 1.4667 feet per second, the cross-sectional area of the water flow to the entry area of your machine would have to be about 820 square feet.

Your proposed bucket size of 2.5x12' = 30 square feet would have an imaginary potential to generate about 820/30 = 27.33 HP, but is it downhill all the way from there.

The maximum attainable efficiency of a waterwheel or turbine device in such an application is about 70%, reducing the theoretical potential to about 19 HP. Mechanical losses for waterwheel bearings, chain or gear drives etc, would be about 10%, reducing power to about 18. Generator efficiency in this range would be about 75% maximum, reducing the maximum power output to about 14.35 HP.

To get 200 hp, your Undershot Wheel system would thus have to be about 200/14.35 = 13.94 times larger. That is, the paddle wheels should have an area of about 13.94 x 30 = 418 square feet. If you used blades that were 4' wide, they would have to be about 418/4 = 104.5 feet long.

You would need floating pontoons to support the system. The would increase river obstruction further.

Not looking very good.


----- Original Message ----- From: "Hugh Leyton"
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:20 PM
Subject: Re: [-BTG-] floating river catamaran hydro undershot water wheel generator

Hi Ray,

You would not be allowed to block or occupy enough of the Belize River to
be able to even Generate 100 kW of Electricity.
It would occupy toooo much of the navigable river.

Rgds Hugh

On 26/01/2012 09:06, Ray Auxillou wrote:
> Okaaaay! So what do I need for 200 hp, or equivalent in electrical production?
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* Kevin
> *To:*
> *Sent:* Thursday, January 26, 2012 3:02 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [-BTG-] floating river catamaran hydro undershot water wheel generator


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