Rain has received quite a bit of attention over the past decade or so, as the effects of climate change on the Earth’s hydrologic cycle are extreme, strong rainfall events in some parts of the world and increased drought in others.
A group of students from the Technological University of Mexico (ITAM), however, found a way to use all those water drops falling from the sky, giving people yet another reason to complain, to generate electricity. The guys built a microturbine-based system, which can be placed on rooftops and provide households with clean energy.
When mounted on the rooftop, the Pluvia system uses the runoff of rainwater to power the turbine and supplies power to the appliances or lamps in the household to which it is connected. The prototype of the generator is not big at all, 2 inches wide and 10 inches high. The pipe which supplies the water to the system is also narrow, only half an inch.
But Pluvia is not only good for generating back-up electricity. Once the water has passed through the microturbine, it flows through the charcoal filter, which removes any odor, taste, colour and even excess chlorine, and only then it gets stored in the tank. The quality of that water is apparently cleaner than that supplied by the network of Mexico City, according to the architecture students of ITAM.
The system has already undergone quite a number of tests in communities around Mexico City, where electricity is not always a given. Although the scale of the system is quite small now, the guys are hopeful that one day it could grow and generate much greater amounts of electricity.
All in all, if they manage to size it up, they might have just discovered a way to filter rainwater, while generating electricity – a dream come true for many communities around the world.
Image (c) Investigación y Desarrollo