Power Generation Modules

Modular power generation system for powering and charging small electronic devices

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We are creating a modular power generation system that can be configured based on what energy sources are available. The system is easily portable and can make use of multiple forms of power generation simultaneously. The generator modules that we have created so far include a hand crank, a wind turbine, and a water turbine. We have also built a battery/USB charger module and a lantern module to accompany the generator modules. Other potential modules include photovoltaic panels, concentrated solar power (CSP), or Peltier modules to extract energy from a fire or other heat source.

This project builds hope by allowing people living in places where power is not readily available to power and charge their electronic devices.

Power Module

The power module takes the outputs from all of the generator modules and regulates them down to a usable voltage.  It supports up to 6 generator modules at once. It contains 2 USB outputs as well as a battery bank to store power until it is needed.

Lamp Module

The lamp modules consists of a LED light that powered using one of the power generation modules. A pyramidal reflector is used to disperse the light from the LED. The lamp contains a built in regulator to allow it to be directly connected to any of the generator modules.

Hand Crank Module

The hand crank module has a maximum output of 15V and 0.3A. This output is very impressive because it can be generated everywhere and in all weather conditions. All the user has to do is turn the crank. This module is so effective at generating power because the team utilized a motor with efficient internal gearing that insures that this power can be achieved with minimal strain on the user.

Water Turbine Module

The water turbine module generated the most power out of all the modules. The current version has a maximum output of 22V and 1.1A which is enough to charge four smartphones at the same time. The module contains a six inch 3-D printed propeller that is connected to a large brushless gimbal motor and housed in a six inch section of PVC pipe. However, the most impressive part of the water turbine module is its ability to generate eight to ten volts in water approximately flowing at one knot ensuring that meaningful power can be generated in nearly any stream or river.

Wind Module

The wind module contains a small savonius turbine connected to a brushless motor.  A built in 3 phase rectifier converts the power output to DC. The current version has a maximum output of 1.8V and 0.3A.

  • 7/11 - Assembling the Main Power Module

    Automata-Development07/13/2018 at 04:32 0 comments

    Today we assembled the main power module. The power module has 6 barrel jacks for the power generation modules to connect to. The power from these inputs is then regulated down to 5 volts and output to 2 USB ports. There is also an integrated mobile power pack that can be connected to the USB outputs to store the generated energy. We tested the power pack with the water turbine, hand crank, and wind turbine. The crank output a peak of 15V and 0.3A and the turbine output a peak of 22V and 1.1A. We also tested the wind turbine with an air compressor and found that it had an output of 1.8V and 0.3A. We are planning to investigate other motor options for the wind turbine in order to generate more energy.

  • 7/7 - Finishing the Generation Modules

    Ian Altobelli07/12/2018 at 17:02 0 comments

    Today we finished all of the modules with the exception of the main power module. We installed a reverse voltage protection diode in the hand crank and lantern modules. The lantern was also assembled and wired. The water turbine module was wired waterproofed and assembled. We then concluded the meeting by testing the turbine. It outputted a peak of 17v and ran constantly at 15v. It easily powered the lantern module and could just as easily charge a phone.

  • 7/6 - Finishing touches on the Hand Crank and Wind Turbine

    mx3designs07/11/2018 at 16:36 0 comments

    We finally made the blades for the wind turbine module out of paper and sprayed them with polyurethane to make them more durable. We did some tests… the motor we chose is a bit too hard to turn for ordinary winds (i.e. not from an air compressor) so we are working on finding a new motor. On the water turbine module, we were able to mount the turbine assembly to the brushless gimbal motor. This module seems like it’ll generate a lot of power: just spinning the turbine with our hands was enough to generate a volt. Once we mount the blade guard, we can really test this in real conditions. The lantern module just got finished as well: we mounted the high-power LED to the upper part of the lantern and the reflector to the bottom. It looks great, and testing on that will begin shortly. Lastly, we soldered up some three-phase rectifiers in advance for the brushless motors.

    (Photo is of the Hand Crank module on top of the Wind Turbine module)

  • 7/5 - Hand Crank and Wind Turbine Assembly

    Automata-Development07/11/2018 at 02:25 0 comments

    Today we worked on assembling the wind turbine and hand crank modules. The hand crank works very well, however the 3D printed crank handle broke during testing so we will need to fabricate a new handle out of aluminum to replace it before our next meeting. We also began assembling the wind turbine today. We decided to make the blades out of paper and only 3D print the hubs to reduce weight. However, the motor we ordered to generate power from the turbine has more resistance than expected, so it is unclear if the wind will be able to turn it. As we still need to make the turbine blades out of paper we were unable to test the turbine today. Additionally, we began work on the lantern module and finished sanding and painting the water turbine.

  • 6/29 - Starting on Water and Wind Modules

    Automata-Development07/10/2018 at 23:48 0 comments

    Today we began working on the water and wind turbines and worked on finishing the CAD design for the remaining modules. We epoxy coated the water turbine in order to waterproof it. The turbine still needs to be sanded and painted at the next meeting. Additionally, we tested the wind turbine we had 3D printed. Unfortunately, this design did not work well. We will need to design and print a new wind turbine design. It also became clear that we will need to make the modules larger than originally planned.

  • 6/22 - Brainstorming a New Project

    Cole B07/10/2018 at 19:49 0 comments

    Today we brainstormed new project ideas. We settled on creating a modular device that could simultaneously harvest power from a variety of sources. We are planning to make the device about the size of a large water bottle when collapsed so that it is easily transported. We then brainstormed the different modules that we would want to create. Some of the possibilities we brainstormed for power generation include a wind turbine, a water turbine, photovoltaic panels, CSP panels, Peltier modules heated using fire, and a hand crank. In addition, we decided to create a lantern module and a battery module to store power until it is needed. We also began creating a CAD model of the module connection system.

  • 6/20 - Finalizing the Design & a Problem

    Ian Altobelli07/09/2018 at 20:59 0 comments

    During this meeting, the some of the team members finalized the CAD design while the others researched the availability and cost of the necessary parts. However, after thoroughly examining the specifications on the appropriately sized hydroelectric generators, the team members became concerned that the system would not generate meaningful power. With this concern in mind, the team performed the necessary calculations based on the quantity of water, the weight of the car, the stiffness of the tube that the water would flow through, and the size of the generator. Unfortunately, it was determined that the system would not generate a meaningful amount of energy and the team decided to go back to the drawing board.  

  • 6/15 - Brainstorming & Preliminary Design

    Ian Altobelli07/09/2018 at 17:34 0 comments

    During the first meeting, the team discussed a variety of different ideas that would capture power. About 1/3rd of the way into the meeting, the team decided to prototype a speed bump that would generate power when cars drove over it by using the car's weight to force high-pressure water through turbines. This power could be stored in a battery and could be used for a number of purposes such as a street lamp. Next, the design was mocked up in CAD; however, there wasn't time to finalize the CAD design and order parts during this meeting.

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