Hydropower from Old Washing Machines

OK. It’s New Zealand, not Australia. But this company called EcoInnovation still reminds you a little bit of Road Warrior. Founder and chief engineer Michael Lawley has built his “renewable energy store” on the ingenious redeployment of everyday household appliances.

Among other things, the company recycles SmartDrive motors from salvaged washing machines to generate hydropower. Of course, you need to be near a river or stream.

Yes, micro-hydro turbines that can tap into the movement of medium flowing streams and turn a turbine that can deliver most of the electrical requirements of a small home.

Lawley says the company has been able to recycle the motors from salvaged domestic washing machines – aka Whirlpool. The company claims its already made 1,000 successful installations of its micro-hydro device as well as wind and solar power systems.

EcoInnovation also prides itself on using recycled materials and renewable energy to manufacture renewable energy products.

But if you are, Lawley promises great results. He says his own home and company have been “power-bill free” for 11 years. It’s about time to put Kiwi innovation to work for U.S. homes bordering streams and rivers.

Micro hydropower systems have also gained greater attention recently in other parts of the world like Canada, India and Norway. Researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. published a paper in the journal Energy Sources last year. The paper pointed out that 85 percent of Nepalese people live in remote areas with limited access to energy sources, such as wood and other biomass products. The researchers found that micro hydropower has great applicability as a sustainable energy technology, especially in consideration of the socioeconomic conditions of the country.

In fact, the paper outlined the benefits of micro hydro operations in remote areas offering one of the most feasible options for energy development. It is demonstrated that micro-hydropower can bring energy services to the rural areas of the country as well as social changes through decentralization and community participation. The researchers reported in their finding that micro-hydro projects fulfil the technological, environmental, economic, and social sustainability criteria.

And just last week, Norway’s minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Riis-Johansen commented on micro hydropower stations as offering a way to boost the country’s electrical capacity to 18 TWh of new power. He said the country hopes that 100 applications can be processed each year. Last year, 42 power stations with a total production of 0.5 TWh received concessions. Lee Bruno

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