Waterwheel Documentary- Harnessing Electricity On The Zambezi River


This describes the proof of concept for the deployment of a waterwheel generator on the Zambezi River.
Waterwheel Installation – Zambia June 2013
A Seattle University Professionals Without Borders team traveled to Chirundu, Zambia to implement a senior design project. The project was conceived by Father Bert Otten, SJ, Emeritus Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who now lives in Zambia. With only 21% of the people in developing countries have access to electricity; the project was to test a unique way to deliver power to rural developing countries.

Seattle University students installed a waterwheel electrical generator on the Zambezi River in Chirundu, Zambia. During their senior year, the Electrical and Computer Engineering students designed and completed extensive testing to determine the power characteristics of the generator. A prototype of the generator was constructed to design and test the controls, transmission, and an appropriate way to store the generated power.

The installation uses simple, appropriate technology to deliver renewable electricity to rural communities on larger rivers in Zambia. Using a commonly available washing machine motor and simple electronics to charge batteries, the system is more cost effective source of power than the equivalent solar panels in this rural part of Africa. This electrical system is easy to maintain and can be recreated in other communities. The total cost, including the construction of the waterwheel is less than the solar panel equivalent. The waterwheel platform was developed for a spiral pump by a Seattle University Senior Design team in 2009 ( see: ).

The installed generator system includes a generator, controls, protection, and a battery system. The battery system can be used for a variety of purposes, including charging cell phones, operating pumps and other electrical devices.

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