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Offgrid Power From Running Water

 Originally published on Ecopreneurist


There are plenty of plug-n-play options using renewable energy to provide offgrid power, but most of them rely on solar or thermoelectric energy, which may not always be the most appropriate choice, depending on the location and situation. For those living or recreating next to flowing water, there’s now another portable clean energy choice, this time using the power of flowing water to generate electricity.

The Hydrobee device is a small hydropower unit that can be deployed in a river or stream, or towed behind a boat, and used to generate clean electricity in a form factor that’s appropriate for personal power applications. The device consists of two components, a tiny hydropower turbine and a battery unit exactly the same size and shape of a 12-ounce soda can that charges 6 AA NiMH rechargeable batteries (2500 mAh each)

“The Hydrobee™ is the new alternative in off-grid personal power for a billion people. It is a tiny hydropower turbine in a can with rechargeable batteries, clever electronics, and a USB 2.0 port. Water flowing through or around the turbine charges the batteries. Then you pick it up and have a can full of electric “juice” to go. As long as you have a stream or river flowing at walking speed, or a household water faucet and standard flow, the Hydrobee™ is a renewable USB power source for you.”

The Hydrobee can be set up in a stream, with the unit being able to charge the batteries in about 2–4 hours (depending on flow rate and pressure). The batteries send the electricity to a USB 2.0 port that puts out 5V 1A of power, which is the standard for charging most phones and USB gadgets. The device can also be uncoupled from the Stream Body and used to generate electricity from flowing water from a household tap, which may be of use when the grid is down but the water infrastructure is still intact, as it can be used to get juice while filling containers or otherwise using the tap.

Here’s a quick pitch from Burt Hamner, co-founder and President of Hydrobee SPC at the Social Impact Fast Pitch contest in Seattle:

The Hydrobee is currently seeking crowdfunding on Kickstarter, and backers at the $24 level will get the Turbine Generator (without the Stream Body), and backers at the $78 and up levels will receive the complete Hydrobee system. If having a portable, personal, hydropower system works for your lifestyle, or you’d just like to support more small clean energy gadgets, consider backing the Hydrobee.

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Written By

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!


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