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Rain Panel

Harness the power of the rain- especially for England.
  (+9, -3)
(+9, -3)
  [vote for,

Solar panels have one Big problem- when the sun isn't out you have no power. Rain has a lot of energy in it when it lands because it just fell about 15,000 feet. Have a big platform which harnesses the power of the rain and hail. I have thought about how it would do this and My best idea was to have lots of small sping loaded platforms which get pushed down when a drop of rain lands on them then have them spinning a turbine using a ratchet or somthing. If you have a better way of harnessing the rain please tell me via annotation.
Fireraven, Aug 27 2001

or do this http://www.halfbake...electric_20turbines
[stupop, Aug 27 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       Imagine how much kinetic energy there must be in light, which has fallen 93 million miles!
beauxeault, Aug 27 2001

       Terminal velocity depends on the object; it's not a constant. For raindrops, terminal velocity varies between 15-25 mph. This really isn't enough to generate any appreciable power (do the calculations yourself).   

       Like UnaBubba says, you really want to harvest an entire watershed's rainfall once it's been funnelled into a river.
egnor, Aug 28 2001

       The advantage of having a rain panel is that they can be used in places where is is difficult to build a dam i.e. top of a hill or where there is no river. They can also be used in conjunction with hydroelectric power.
Fireraven, Aug 28 2001

       How about a shallow panel or basin that is triangular in shape and on a pivot. When empty it is in position A. When it fills up with rain the changed moment causes it to pivot to position B where it empties itself and moves back to position A. This happens again and again until the rain stops. The movement caused by the pivot can be used to drive your millstone or whatever.
stupop, Aug 28 2001

       ok so we'll have my original idea made into a funnel shape which funnels into a line of pivoted triangular basins going down the hill to a valley where a dam is built which uses a hydroelectric powerplant to make a lot of energy.   

       Anything else anyone wants to add?
Fireraven, Aug 28 2001

       Any way to capture rainbow power?
phoenix, Aug 28 2001

       um whats electric differential? And we'll put a waterwheel just above the dam to generate a bit more power. How about after the steam generates more energy we funnell it back to the top of the hill and re-condense it.   

       hmmm... anything else?
Fireraven, Aug 29 2001

       Law of Thermodynamics would prove that the steam would use more energy to transport water back up than power which generates the steam.
Once water is done with its work, its done.
Steam produced should provide energy on something else entirely, along with the string of panels (paddles/waterwheels) and bipolar whatchamacallits.
thumbwax, Aug 29 2001

       OK after the water has gone through the entire process it is left to evaporate back into the atmosphere.   

       Recap so far: It rains,gets funneled into triangular basins (see stupops annotation) by a funnel which generates power (see my original idea),when it comes to the bottom of the hill -after all the pivoted basins- it turns a couple of water-wheels, falls into a dam is used for conventional hydro-electricity and the electric differental (see UnaBubba's annotation) then gets transported to a geo-themic reigon or a volcano where it is turned into steam and drives more turbines.   

       Is that all...?
Fireraven, Aug 29 2001

       Between going through the turbines and rising to start the process again, the steam could be channelled through a large sauna with de-misted windows from where tourists could relax and gaze upon the world's most elaborate hydrological energy plant.
stupop, Aug 29 2001

       How much energy would the whole thing actually generate?
Fireraven, Aug 29 2001

       You could just build tall towers that reach to the clouds and let the rain drip through a series of water wheels. This captures all of the potential energy, instead of dissipating most of it to atmospheric friction as each raindrop hits terminal velocity.
gravelpit, Aug 30 2001

       could you use the waterwheels to raise the blocks to build the towers?
lewisgirl, Aug 30 2001

       These 'sping loaded platforms' sound interesting. What exactly is 'sping' anyway? And where can I buy it?
DrBob, Aug 30 2001

       Then let it evaporate and use it again. It's unlimited free energy. No, it really isn't.
angel, Aug 30 2001

       OK so what we have here is an extremely elaborate and inefficient system for extracting energy from the sun (via evaporation), and perhaps supplementing that with thermal energy sucked out of the earth's core. Macro-scale harvesting of that energy (as hydro-electric dams) is efficient enough to be practical. Micro-scale operations generally are not nearly as efficient.   

       So to make the most efficient use of the gravitational potential energy that rain already has naturally, we need to collect it in a funnel at the highest altitude possible. Then we bring it straight down a pipe to sea level, where a huge turbine converts the immense pressure of the standing column of water into mechaical energy. The outlet of the turbine would dump directly into the ocean, where the water could absorb solar energy and evaporate to pass through the cycle again. Obtaining the best efficientcy may actually involve several smaller turbines running in parallel at the bottom of the pipe, or a series of turbines operating at lower pressures, staggered along the length of the vertical pipe.   

       But it might be more efficient still to cover the entire ocean surface with photovoltaic arrays (solar panels), and bypass the water thing altogether. If enough of the ocean is covered then evaporation will be negligible, and we won't have to worry about clouds blocking the sunlight going to the panels (both on your rooftop and on the ocean). The only drawback is that life on this planet would suck for a while and later cease without the weather patterns that are driven by evaporation of the oceans. But I'm sure we can half-bake our way around that minor setback.
BigBrother, Apr 12 2002

       Besides even if the sun isn't shining you still get energy from solar panels, how do you think people here in Britain can justify putting them on their roofs?
kaz, Apr 12 2002

       My house has rain-catching funnels on all four corners. That's where I'd put the first rev of microturbines; uses existing infrastructure and is close to where lights are needed.   

       And, of course, my mind is in the gutter.
hello_c, May 22 2002

       Hey - SPING originated here!
neelandan, May 23 2002

       But the object is to harness the energy from the energy that the drops have as a result of their having motion. How about some kind of piezo device?
WickerMan, Nov 27 2002

       Construct a very large rainwater catch basin / funnel on a flat surface with the funnel outlet(s) a couple meters back from the edge of a long steep incline. Use a large two-spooled pulley with heavy cable wound on it such that the cable on the left is wound opposite of the cable on the right. Mount the pulley at the top of the incline, a couple meters back as well (by the funnel outlets). Outfit two small (lightweight but strong) rail cars, each with a large open top container attached to a frame on the car near the top of the container such that the container can pivot in the direction of the car wheels. Run two sets of rails from the flat surface on top to a still inclined surface near the bottom of the incline. Connect each cable to each car (with one spool wound and the other unwound). Note that the cars and tracks must be configured to have wheels on the top and bottom of the track (like a roller-coaster) to prevent them from tipping over. Equip the tracks with conveyor belts (or gear-friendly chains like on a bicycle), and the cars with a catch mechanism on the underside such that they grab the conveyor belt when moving down the slope, but not when moving up. At the bottom of the tracks position another funnel into which the full buckets will eventually be emptied. This water is run through a small generator that in turn maintains the small power requirements necessary for electronics (water level monitoring, funnel outlet on/off, the solenoids that let the cars begin the trip down the incline, etc.)   

       With one car at the top and one at the bottom, the top car’s container is filled with water from the basin and allowed to roll over the side. It grabs the conveyor belt which is also connected to a generator (the usable electric output of this process). The extremely heavy load of water ‘falling’ down the incline pulls the conveyor which turns the generator, and also pulls the empty (many, many times lighter) car up to the top. As the full container unloads into the funnel at the bottom, the one on top gets a refill, and the process repeats.   

       Trying to harvest the kinetic energy of rain is lots of fun, but so long as long as mother nature is willing to continue walking water back up the hill, I’ll take a mechanical approach using gravity instead. There’s lots of ways to do it, including [BigBrother]’s suggestion above. I’m all for making ‘bumpy’ piezo train tracks though (economics aside of course).
Shz, Dec 09 2002

       TV for a raindrop is way way lower than 154 ft/sec. Sorry -
FloridaManatee, Dec 30 2002

       use very heavy bouyant weights. when rain stops the weights turn turbines in thier path back down to the bottom of the pool.
Zimmy, May 03 2003

       I have in mind that rain can be an alternative source of energy. If rainwater is collected,i believe that it could run a turbine that could generate electricity. I am conducting a research regarding this matter and I need the help of anyone who has the knowledge and suggestions regarding the utilization of rain as a source of electricity. It is a good alternative especially during stormy and rainy seasons.
phil2003, Jul 24 2003

       When it's hot though you can also have a system that drips the water onto the springs so you can still produce energy, but the area where i'm not sure about is if the system would be cost more to run than just running regular power.
phaders, Nov 02 2003

       The thing I like about this original idea is that it harvests the energy of the water falling before it hits the ground. You can still collect it in rivers and run it through a hydroelectric system. How about something turbinesque like a series of ceiling fan-like generators stacked on a common pole several feet apart. A mass flux past the top fan would cause rotation. The same mass would drop and from there and reach near terminal velocity again at fan two, etc., etc. I can see it now. Pacific Island nations with Rainmills as far as the eye can see. And children with little wooden shoes....
Spare parts, Jun 22 2004


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