Jack Rao, Jason Young
Sir Winston Churchill Secondary
Floor Location : M 006 N
Every year, Vancouver receives over 140 centimeters of rain. (Environment and Climate Change Canada 2017)) Times that by the area of the city and that’s enough to put huge fresh water reservoirs to shame. So how effective would it be if we could use that power?
In an attempt to harness the energy in rain, we decided to place a hydroelectric generator in the form of a water wheel under a downspout pipe, which is where rain ends up collecting after falling on most buildings.
To do this, we researched many reputable sources on hydroelectric generators' construction, efficiency, and operation. We also looked at past instances when others had similar ideas - generating power from rainwater - and tried to learn from their mistakes.
Most hydroelectric generators are 90% efficient (Hermann-Josef and Mathur, 2011) Through our hydrodynamic calculations, a 90% efficient gutter generator will generate 4.5 watts. We tested this number by artificially simulating rain falling down a downspout and measuring the amount of volts and amps the gutter generator produces.
We conducted a measurement of both volts and amps once every five seconds for thirty seconds and we repeated this process six times, alternating between measuring volts and amps. We converted our results into watts and have compared the watts generated by this device with our initial amount. We also looked at the amount of watt hours this device could potentially generate in three conditions: the rainiest month, the average monthly precipitation, and the driest months.
The actual results of the gutter generator were less than what was expected. The generator's output was around 1.3 watts of electricity, less than 1/3rd of the predicted amount. In the rainiest months the generator was expected to only output 0.6 watt hours per day, and in the driest months less than 0.12.
Even though the generator outputted a low amount of power, we can still consider it useful because the power generated can be stored for future use, however, it should be made abundantly clear that there are many other cheaper and more effective methods of producing green energy.