Self-Propelled Water Power
ADB 02 - 01 - 2010

In thinking about sustainability, a main focus is alternative or renewable energy sources. One such renewable resource, water, is used widely to create energy. Yet, water has been used in renewable ways for centuries. Not necessarily for electrical energy purposes, like today, but ancient water systems created many other functional opportunities. The beginnings of water manipulation can be seen in several different civilizations. In Spain, paving material was designed to manage water drainage and runoff patterns along streets, sidewalks, and in courtyards. The Roman Empire used aqueducts to aid in the transportation of water over long distances. Even more advanced, in several different cultures, a gravitational system was used to power water fountains throughout a complex. Using nothing but gravity to power a water feature is quite intriguing and equally sustainable. Yet, without a renewable source, such as a river or lake, the difficulty occurs in making the system a closed circuit; how can the water return to the original pinnacle point without using electricity or pumps? After mulling over this concept, I remembered a documentary I watched dealing with a similar idea. Their system used a large drill to pull the water upwards. Putting these ideas together, I came up with a self-propelled, water-powered feature. The water flows down onto and turns a propeller, which is attached to a gear system. The gears rotate the drill, pulling water back upwards and repeating the process. Surely, the system has kinks. The case around the drill must remain stagnant, so how do the gears attach to the drill? Also, the propeller needs some stability, so how would it be propped up without adding friction to its rotation. By using a drill, would the flow of water be constant or fragmented? If fragmented, will the system even work? Thus, the design needs more thought, research, and tweaking. Nevertheless, systems or features such as this could educate communities and create spring-boards for sustainable practices. It would show that we can use concepts from ancient civilizations, adapted to the twenty-first century, reinvented, and pushed further, to enhance current cities and protect our global environment.

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