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Systems Design Of A 100 W Hydro Kinetic Technology For Remote Areas

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Learning about Power Systems and Power Consumption

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1161.1 - 15.1161.21



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Paper Authors


Joshua Baumgartner LeTourneau University

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Joshua Baumgartner is a senior mechanical engineering student at LeTourneau University. A National Merit Finalist and member of LeTourneau’s Honors Program, he advanced to the 2008 ASME Student Design Contest International Finals with his sophomore design team. Joshua plans to return to his hometown of San Antonio to work in building design and become a professional engineer. His other career interests include teaching engineering and designing for people with disabilities.

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Timothy Hewitt LeTourneau University

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Tim Hewitt is currently studying for his Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering at LeTourneau University in Longview Texas.

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Edgar Licea LeTourneau University

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Edgar Licea is a student majoring in mechanical engineering at LeTourneau University, Longview. His goal is to take the experience and quality of education he receives from a university education and further society through technological innovation.

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Nolan Willis LeTourneau University

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Nolan Willis is a senior electrical engineering student at LeTourneau University. Originally from Alaska, he spent much of his life working as a commercial salmon fisherman while performing necessary mechanical work and preparations. More recently, Nolan has taken special interests in renewable/alternative energy applications as well as power engineering. His career goals include becoming a professional engineer and solving some of the world's most challenging energy problems.

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Matthew Green LeTourneau University

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Dr. Matthew G. Green is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at LeTourneau University, Longview. His objective is to practice and promote engineering as a serving profession, with special interest in improving the quality of life in developing countries. Focus areas include remote power generation, design methods for frontier environments, and assistive devices for persons with disabilities. Contact:

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Systems Design of a Hydro-Kinetic Technology for Rural Areas of Developing Countries  

Abstract This paper presents a case study of a global service-learning project leading towards the implementation of renewable energy technology for remote electricity generation. A student team designed, prototyped, and tested a hydro-kinetic device as part of a project ultimately intended to provide 100 continuous watts of electrical power from river currents in remote regions. The final design must be portable, cost-effective, exceptionally robust, and readily adaptable for needs in the rural developing world. Additional sponsor requirements disallow major civil works or obstruction of river traffic. The design team’s primary sponsor HCJB seeks the system in rural applications where small amounts of power are needed for radio broadcasting, various tools, and medical equipment. This project builds on previously reported work1,2 investigating water-wheel technology, but the focus here is on below-water hydro-kinetic technology due to sponsor request.

The team defined the project scope based on needs interviews and a visit from HCJB engineers. Based on these needs and specifications the team is adapting a commercially available generator with a velocity-boosting shroud specifically designed for slow river speeds, a robust and portable anchoring system, and a suitable electrical system. Extensive testing equipment and methods are being developed to refine and verify the design locally. This paper describes the needs and requirements, design process, industry/organizational partners, final design, and testing results. Consideration is given to the implementation of such projects within an academic structure including funding, identifying knowledgeable sponsoring “customer” organizations, and field implementation of the results. Conclusions are drawn regarding the impact of such projects on student learning and career aspirations.

1 Introduction and Background Many engineering schools are now employing a service-learning approach to globally-based humanitarian projects3,4,5. The importance of integrating both globalization and social needs into the engineering curriculum is acknowledged by the ABET criteria6, and human need is a clear priority of the engineering profession, as indicated in the NSPE creed*,7. However, the majority of North American engineering students are not familiar with the contexts in which vast needs exist, such as those among the physically disabled or the estimated 4 billion people living on less than $2 a day (PPP)8. These conditions represent a formidable “frontier design environment”, or environments outside the experience and expertise of most engineering students. Sufficiently understanding design needs is notoriously problematic in frontier environments where data and contextual experiences are not readily available.

From a global perspective, many remote areas have either unreliable electrical power or no power at all9. HCJB, an international humanitarian organization, recently requested a student team to design, prototype, and test a system to provide ~2.4kW-hr/day (before storage) of

* “As a Professional Engineer, I dedicate my professional knowledge and skill to the advancement and betterment of human welfare …”

Baumgartner, J., & Hewitt, T., & Licea, E., & Willis, N., & Green, M. (2010, June), Systems Design Of A 100 W Hydro Kinetic Technology For Remote Areas Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16151

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