Hydro Power - direct drive v. electrical

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For some reason I have the urge to create a modern hydro power shop. I'm aware that you can convert hydro power into hydroelectric power, and then just plug in your machines, but the direct drive aspect has more appeal to me.
Anyone out there know of a "modern" direct drive shop? It seems like with the advances in metallurgy and tooling you could create a much more efficient shop than those used in colonial times. Sealed bearings, tight tolerances, sharp blades, finely milled gears and clutching mechanisms - they all add up, And man what a fun project that would be!
JP *********** Dreamer.
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Jay Pique wrote:

Don't forget the modern ultra-efficient fllywheels, or a 2nd source of power such as your Dodge Ram. ;-)
I'm interested in this too. If I hit the lotto and can move when I want to live, reliable 24x7 electrical power is a fiction.
-- Mark
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Starts with the water supply. Got to be reliable in volume and rate. Before you think you can impound enough, remember, that stream is not yours. If it's "navigable," you can't interfere in any way. If it has fish, snails or some other form of strange slimy life falling under the care of the DNR, you may also forget it.
Hell, if there's an eagle nest at your swimming hole, don't tell anyone, else they'll close the stream. Eagles raise a young'un just fine with a family swimming within a hundred feet, BTW.

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I'm actually considering an old, but still functional grist mill. My guess would be that I could increase power output by a multiple using the same flow/head with modern materials. I've actually considered investigating how much electromechanical power it would take to turn the existing shaft, keep it running for nostalgia, and then use the excess to power other tools (electromechanically). It could be sort of a tribute to the old and the new.
JP

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Jay Pique wrote:

Wow. How cool would that be.
What do you mean by "still functional?" Does the water wheel on the mill still run? Do you have any idea how much horse power it's producing? Or can you estimate from the head and flow rate?
What kind of wheel does it have? Depending on it's type/condition, this might be the best place to start for improved power. Of course, you may have so much power already that it doesn't matter much (unless you're going to sell power back to the grid, which you can do with solar power in places -- no idea what kind of permitting would be needed to sell hydro). Are you going to run things with leather belts and such?
Greg
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Yeah, it's actually been a recurring theme of my "go to sleep" fantasies for quite a while. Typically it's situated in an old growth forest in the middle of a mountain range....

Still functional in that it still actually mills grain. They make excellent pancake mix!

I really don't know how much power it produces. The mill isn't even "for sale" right now, but it's awfully dilapidated and obviously neglected. What a gorgeous spot though. Once you got rid of the abandonned 18 wheeler trailers and other (multitudinous) crap, you could really have something great on your hands.
JP
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About 7 years ago (give or take) I was in my favorite tool shop and some Amish were there buying some wood working tools, they were looking for ones that the electrical motor could be removed from and replaced with a belt system. This might be a place to start looking. The store was BSC (Bargain Supply Company) in Louisville Ky., I think the salesman was Wayne.

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In '86 I visited a place called "Ben's Mill" in NH, prior to attending '86 "Aspencade" in Lake George, NY. This mill had been featured on the "Discovery" or "Learning" channels on TV. His mill was using straight hydro power through shafts & belts, but instead of a wheel he used a "penstock" turbine for power.
--
Nahmie
The law of intelligent tinkering: save all the parts.
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On Wed, 28 Jul 2004 09:34:59 -0400, "Norman D. Crow"

I've heard that a penstock is more efficient than a wheel - that's what they use at Sturbridge Village. Not as visually appealing though.
JP
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On Wed, 28 Jul 2004 09:34:59 -0400, "Norman D. Crow"

I was hand priming a bunch of cabinet doors today and got to thinking about this again... Given the magnificent advances in hydrodynamics and materials technolgy, my guess would be that we could increase the horsepower of the wheel by at least twofold by rebuilding the wheel. I plan to retain the aesthetic to the extent possible, but I won't sacrifice performance. If the wheel's got to go, it goes. Provided I can get approval.
The next question I have of myself is what are the efficiency losses in converting from hydro to electric? Are these more or less than the efficiency losses in gearing X number of machines to a very modern belt system? Is the equation always going to come out on the side of electricity or do other factors come into play - such as the maximum load you could expect at any one time.
It might be "worth" it to go all electric if you can sell back into the grid, but is it the proper use for a historic building? How about a split system - ie. drive a mill and a large bandsaw with part of the power, and convert the remainder to electricity...
JP ***************** It's Electric!
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classical 'open wheel' designs have a quite low efficiency rating.
The 'theoretical' power available can be computed, given the 'head' and the flow rate. Its roughly 100GPM at a 4.4' head, per horsepower.
A 'bucket brigade' type wheel, with _no_ spillage, captures nearly 100% of that potential energy. The biggest loss component is the mechanism for ensuring the buckets traverse the 'up' side _empty_.

Well, under _optimum_ operating conditions, a 'small' (in this context meaning 2-10 hp) electric motor is about 85% efficient. under that range, and the efficiency goes _down_. Dramatically downwards, as the the power-rating gets smaller.
*BIG* hydro plants can capture significantly over 90% of the energy of the water passing through them.
Again, efficiency decreases with deceasing size, but you should be able to approximate the efficiency of a like-sized motor -- the generator is nothing more than a motor 'running backwards'. <grin>
Assume 80% efficiency for both the generator and the motors it drives.
You only get 64% of the generator input "water power" at the motor drive-shaft. (note, the 'generator input' is the same as the 'shaft output from the water- wheel. any inefficiencies in the water-wheel itself affect both systems to precisely the same degree.)
A good mechanical-transfer system will have efficiency ratings in the high 90s. This almost always runs rings around a generator/motor set-up.
*HOWEVER* there are a whole bunch of -other- considerations: Do you require controlled 'variable speed' setting capability? Can you _tolerate_ randomly-variable operating speeds? Without very exotic controls, water-wheel power output is tied to shaft RPMs. to transfer more power, you have to spin the water wheel _faster_. (or operate to allow spillage, with the resultant energy-losses -- a.k.a. reduced efficiency -- at less less than full capacity) What about 'overload safeties'? Can the power 'producer' and the 'consumer' equipment be located close enough together? Do the equipment users have the requisite skill-set for 'turning on' an additional piece of equipment -- you don't just push a button or flip a lever; like driving a car with a manual transmission, you have to know how to manipulate a clutch. Stalling the "engine" is a *really* bad thing to do. <grin>

That kind of 'conversion' gets piss-poor efficiency. You -cannot- generate the proper A.C. directly -- you don't have the controls to ensure the proper shaft RPM from the water-drive. Nor the stability of it So, you'll have to either generate DC, or generate 'random frequency/phase' AC which is rectified to DC, and use -that- to *carefully* generate the proper in-phase power to feed back into the grid. Sub 50% efficiencies are -not- at all uncommon.

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Jay Pique wrote:

I always heard some Amish communities still run that way while others do convert to electricity and power the tools that way. We have a lot of Amish communities an hour or so outside of our city but I haven't made it to any of their shops during a time they were open to see.
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wrote:

Nope.
You could do this. But there are good reasons why it's not a good idea. Water machinery is slow speed, woodworking machinery is high speed. The easiest way to get from one to the other is an electric transmission, and that has a few other obvious advantages too.
One of my neighbours has a workshop built with the house, sometime around 1900. There's a gas engine (single cylinder, 6' flywheel) driving a lineshaft, then a few big metal turning lathes and mills driven by belts. even then it's a set-up with slower headstock speeds than you really want with modern materials and tooling, and it's awkward to use.
If I had a burning desire to build water-wheel powered machinery, I'd take up blacksmithing and build a power hammer. Some time this week I'm off to visit an 18th century brass mill, just up-river from me. Water-driven hammers pounded out brass sheet.
--
Smert' spamionam

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Well, there are these "gear" things I've heard of which seem to show some promise.

I'd be more concerned about exposed belts, but if it's all done with rotating shafts, you could get away from that _and_ get the rotational speed desired at the same time.
Sounds like a fun project, but the first calculation has to be "How many horsepower do I get from this water wheel".
Dave Hinz
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That's an easy calculation.
The hard one is "How do I find a property that is for sale, is near where I want to live and has sufficient water running across it, has the appropriate grade change to allow me to generate power and I can afford to buy?"
DAMHIKT.
Mike
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wrote:

<cue the sound of reality creeping in>

Yep - you gotta have the funds!
JP ******************** "Business Plans for Dummies"
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Money wasn't the problem. All the other factors were. I could find _no_ property that had appropriate water and slope.
Oh, yes... I left out the part about also having local laws that would allow you to dam the stream.
All those mills you see - they were there before everyone else came along. Start from scratch today? - forget it.
Mike
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wrote:

Hmmm...I've got the location, you've got the money, and we both like woodworking..... How do you feel about beautiful upstate New York?
JP
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Too far south for my tastes. :-)
Mike
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Wed, Jul 28, 2004, 12:43am snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (JayPique) queries: <snip> Anyone out there know of a "modern" direct drive shop? <snip>
Yes. Google and ye shall find.
JOAT Expensive tennis shoes won't cure a sore toe. - Bazooka Joe JERUSALEM RIDGE http://www.banjer.com/midi/jerridge.mid
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