Turning Falling Waste Water Into Energy

Now here’s some innovative thinking when it comes to micro-power generation–a gizmo that uses the energy of waste water as it falls through our pipes to produce electricity for high rise buildings. It’s the brainchild of a UK industrial design student, Tom Broadbent, and it’s called the HighDro.

This money and energy-saving device works by harnessing the energy from falling waste-water in tall buildings–be they office-buildings, hotels, or high-rise apartment complexes–and converting it to electricity through a relatively simple mechanism. Grey- and black-water (from sinks, toilets and showers) goes down the drain and falls to a central pipe before it hits the sewer main; along the way, it hits four turbine blades that drive a single generator. The energy that can be generated in this way is not insubstantial, saving a seven-storey building £926 (nearly $1,500) a year when put to use on-site. Waste-water electricity generated by the HighDro could also be sold back to the grid on a buy-back tariff.


image via Creativeboom

The Eureka moment for this student, soon to graduate from Leicester’s DeMontfort University, came when he drained a bathtub one day in a hotel room and found that it cleared very quickly and with a large amount of force. “It seemed logical that this energy should be harnessed in some way to create green electricity and help governments meet targets and it filled an obvious gap in the market,” Broadbent told Creativeboom. He adds that the effects of ‘solids’ moving through falling waste-water in the HighDro were addressed using the design of one of the most ancient technologies on the planet: the water-wheel.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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