Instead of flushing money down the drain, imagine being able to harness energy every time you flush the toilet or drain the tub. That is exactly what a grad student in the U.K. has done.
Tom Broadbent, an industrial design graduate student from De Montfort University (DMU), has created the HighDro Power, a device that harnesses energy from waste water as it falls through the pipes and converts it to electricity. As waste water drains from the sink, toilet or bathtub, the water travels through the pipes and hits four turbine blades that power a generator.
Broadbent came up with the idea when he watched the water as it drained from his tub in a hotel room. He noticed how quickly the water drained and with a “large amount of force. It seemed logical that this energy should be harnessed in some way to create green electricity and help governments meet targets and it filled an obvious gap in the market.” The design was influenced by “traditional waterwheels to ensure any solids passing through had limited effects on whether they could function.”
According to a DMU press release, Broadbent estimates his invention could save a seven-story building about $1,400 in annual energy costs. The electricity could also be sold back to the grid. The prototype was constructed from off-the-shelf parts such as standard bearings and gears along with sections Broadbent assembled in a lab using laser sintering, vacuum forming and CNC milling machinery.
HighDro Power is designed for use in high-rise buildings, hotels and other commercial properties – not residential properties. Although the device is not available for commercial use quite yet, Broadbent is hoping to test HighDro Power in a building.
Image courtesy of DMU