Grid Scale, Hydropower, Storage

Mini-Hydro System Designed by U.S. Student Inventor

An elementary school student has invented a miniature hydroelectric power plant that is designed for residential battery charging.

NEW YORK, New York – An elementary school student has invented a miniature hydroelectric power plant that is designed for residential battery charging.

The U.S. Department of Energy and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently selected four students from across the U.S. to present their energy-saving inventions to the Energy Smart Schools Contest. These inventions were finished last month at the Energy Smart Schools Inventors Summit held at the Berkeley Lab in California.

The event was held in partnership with Owens Corning.

Michael Torrey built a mini-hydro plant with engineer Hong Dao, which uses power from water to charge batteries for household usage. As water passes through the pipes to drains and faucets, the flowing water charges the generators and the generators, in turn, charge the batteries. The batteries then supply energy to the household.

Torrey is in grade five at Forest Park Elementary School in Fremont, California.

“Children are not constrained in their imagination and our Inventors demonstrated this by developing original and creative devices to save energy,” says John Pagano of Owens Corning. “Now, with the help of energy experts, we are seeing their inventions come to life.”

Grade four student Kate Flor-Stagnato of Scotch Plains, NJ, built an air conditioner that signals homeowners when energy is being wasted, by connecting the home’s air-conditioning unit to nearby windows with sensors. If a sensor detects an open window while the air conditioner is running, then the air-conditioner beeps until the window is closed and no longer wasting energy.

“We were very proud to have these creative students at the lab for the Energy Smart Schools Inventors Summit,” says Charles Shank of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. “We were delighted to be able to encourage and work with students who have an interest in science.”

“Just like the recycling movement in the ’80s and ’90s, our goal is to make energy efficiency the top environmental issue of the new millennium,” adds Pagano. “By getting students involved, we hope they will take the message home and help create a nationwide network of energy-efficiency communities.”