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Vortex hydroelectric plant

Vortex hydroelectric plant…

The vortex hydroelectric project was started in 2015 and construction of the tank and channels was c…

Introducing our laundry/outreach centre project

Introducing our laundry/outreach centre project…

We are nearing completion of the vortex hydroelectric plant that will supply the Kadagaya community…

Building a permaculture banana circle

Building a permaculture banana circle…

What is a Banana Circle?  Banana trees are very hungry plants, requiring lots of nutrients, light,…


The vortex hydroelectric project was started in 2015 and construction of the tank and channels was completed in June 2016. We spent the next few months constructing the first prototype turbine and we connected the first power to the house in August 2016. After six months of testing the system and the electrical control systems, we were achieving a power of around 3.5 kW. This was enough energy to run household appliances, such as the washing machine, freezer, computers, and internet, and most of the workshop tools. However, this was not enough power to pump water up the steep hill from the river or provide for future projects, such as the laundry/education centre and irrigating the food forest. Hence, we decided to install a much larger turbine designed to produce around 7.5 kW. During installation of this turbine, we began to encounter problems with the transmission of so much power and after a short time the gearbox failed. We spent some time investigating gearbox options and found an exciting alternative: a magnetic planetary gearbox design that allows contact- and lubrication-free transmission and automatic overload protection. As this seemed to be a perfect solution for our needs, we invested some months doing complex mathematics and writing a code to design a small prototype magnetic gear to test the concept. Meanwhile, we intermittently ran the vortex with small turbine blades to limit the power and a temporary transmission system using rubber belts. We encountered challenges in constructing the large metal pieces for the gearbox as they required very precise machining. During installation and testing of the full-scale two-stage gearbox in early 2018 we discovered errors in the initial design. The gearbox has been redesigned with the help of an expert in field and the second system is expected to be installed in August 2018.

You can see videos of the turbine running on our YouTube page.

 

Overview of vortex running with the large turbine

 

Designing the magentic gearbox prototype

 

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