ASEE Zone 2 Conference 2017

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A Hydroelectric Phone Charger

A capstone design project at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) was tasked with developing a mobile hydroelectric turbine to charge a cell phone or other small electronic devices by converting the kinetic energy of water into electrical energy. The team was also given the responsibility of developing a test apparatus that could be used to determine the effectiveness of the turbine. Due to the lack of high-pressure head in the small creeks and rivers surrounding the Chattanooga area, a water wheel was selected as the best and simplest option for this project. The waterwheel is connected through a set of gears to a DC motor that converts the kinetic energy to electrical energy. The test apparatus created utilizes a pump capable of delivering water at a flow rate of eighty gallons per minute at 5ft of head and can be set up in three separate modes common to working water wheels. These modes include overshot, where the water engages the blades of the wheel from the top, breastshot where first contact is at the midpoint of the water wheel, and undershot where the water runs below the wheel and only contacts the bottom most blades. Three tests were run for each type of flow and the power output was recorded. As expected the maximum amount of power was measured in the overshot position and a minimum in the undershot. Further improvements will be added to this device, including a more accurate flow measurement gage, and then used in the fluid mechanics lab at UTC to demonstrate the production of hydroelectric power.


Dillon Sluss    
Mechanical Engineering
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
United States

Charles Margraves    
Mechanical Engineeering
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
United States


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