Capstone project

Hydro-electric generator

The purpose of our design project is to create electric power from the mechanical power of water using piezoelectric crystals. We seek to create an independent source of electricity solely from the mechanical power present in the motion of water. This report will cover the design process of our product. The use of hydroelectric power is not a new phenomenon; hydroelectric power has been used with great success for many years in such large-scale applications as dams and water wheels. In smaller applications, hydroelectric power has been used in portable generators for household use and emergency power supplies along waterways throughout the world. In deciding upon designs, many existing forms of hydroelectric power were examined. Waterwheels, turbines, and propellers were all examined as potential sources to power a conventional generator. These existing designs are all acceptable starting points of design, however, piezoelectrics were chosen in lieu of a conventional generator as their use holds the most interest with the group. The applications of piezoelectricity are relatively new. A piezoelectric crystal is a material that will generate an electric charge when stressed (i.e. bent) or will deform when introduced to electric charge. Current applications of piezoelectric crystals are in igniter switches for range appliances, hand held lighters, clocks, and a wide array of other uses. What is so intriguing to our group is that piezoelectricity (after initial cost) is essentially free energy. No outside energy source such as fuel or initial electric charge is necessary to extract electric charge from the crystals other than to have a sustained external physical motion. The use of piezoelectrics has not been widely explored, making the design process completely new. Our finished product will be the first of its kind. The group hopes to demonstrate the potential of piezoelectrics as a viable source of energy for certain applications. The results of our product testing show that our design produces 13 Volts and .03mA at design speed.