For many, Aftertime preparations are relegated to securing a safe location, gathering vital essentials and do not include provisions for generating electrical power. While this isn't imperative for survival, it will be required for optimum vegetable cultivation, radio communication, among other quality of life improvements. Although many are hoping to be deemed worthy of receiving a perpetual power pack, there's no telling when or even IF this can be expected.
Some may be able to rely on their ability to generate power from salvaging Aftertime wreckage, but most of us cannot. This discussion is offered for those intending to generate power in the Aftertime and wanting to learn more. Anyone currently living off-grid or with expertise generating and storing power is encouraged to share their ideas on reliable alternatives in an Aftertime environment.
There's much to be said regarding human powered generators in the context of an Aftertime scenario. Most commercially available human-powered generators involve either a stationary bicycle that utilizes legs for pedaling or a hand crank mechanism that utilizes the upper body. Since a human is only capable of producing relatively low RPMs, power output is likewise limited. And while pedaling a stationary bike for an hour currently may not be overly taxing, when your day is comprised of chopping wood, carrying water, and other physically exhausting activities - and you're borderline malnourished, this may not be a realistic option. Before exploring other alternatives for generating power, it's important to clarify some common misconceptions:
Misconception 1: "I can salvage an alternator from a car or truck and generate power, right?"
Not easily. Most vehicle alternators start producing power at RPMs far greater than humans can achieve without substantial mechanical gearing to increase the alternator speed. While vehicle alternators can be modifed to generate power at lower RPMs, this involves replacing the existing stator windings with windings that have more turns of smaller gauge wire, which is no small feat.
Using a vehicle alternator to harness wind power is also problematic. A car alternator is designed to be lightweight and operate at very high RPM. Since it won't produce useable power below 1000 RPM, ordinary wind turbine blades mounted on the shaft will spin relatively slowly and not produce useable power. While you can attempt to compensate for this speed mismatch by introducing gearing, rewinding the stator coils, or even using shorter blades, you'll find these laborious efforts only result in a wind generator that is clumsy, inefficient, and produces little power.
Also, you have to remove and bypass the internal voltage regulator if your battery is not right next to the alternator. So unless you have the battery mounted on top the tower, the voltage at the alternator will be higher than the battery voltage due to resistance in the wiring and the regulator will start to limit the voltage output before the battery begins charging properly. All in all, trying to use a vehicle alternator is a bad idea.
Misconception 2: "I can hook up any Permanent Magnet Generator (PMG) to a stationary bike and generate sufficient power to charge my battery bank, right?"
Not necessarily. Even PMGs advertised as "Low RPM" that reportedly generate voltage and current at any RPM need to be evaluated based on your ability to turn the generator fast enough to charge your batteries. If you're trying to charge a 12V battery and you can't pedal fast enough to generate more than 12V, your battery will die just slightly ahead of you.
Misconception 3: "I can use car batteries in my battery bank, right?"
Bad idea. Most batteries that start engines (starter batteries) are designed to be drained only slightly (2 to 5%) during ignition, after which they're recharged by the vehicle's alternator. This type of battery fails to hold a charge when repeatedly drained and recharged (deep cycled). A used automotive battery can fail after only a few deep cycles, while a new deep cycle battery can last for over 20 years. While it would be recommended to obtain deep cycle batteries now, deep cycle batteries could be acquired in the Aftertime by salvaging those found in boat wreckage (marine batteries), as well as ones residing in forklifts, golf carts and floor sweepers (traction batteries).
Misconception 4: "I can erect a wind generator anywhere and it will generate power as long there's wind, right?"
A wind generator needs to be positioned in a carefully chosen location that satisifies stringent criteria:
a. Dependable Wind. Any location will have periods when there's no wind, but you want to choose a site where there is some wind most of the time.
b. Sufficient Wind. Even though the blades may be turning, most wind generators won't charge batteries in winds less than 7 mph. Power output increases almost linearly in winds between 10 mph and 20 mph, after which power output levels off and actually decreases in wind speeds over 35 mph as overspeed controls come into play.
c. Excessive Wind. While not enough wind is a problem, too much of it is a bad thing, too. In wind speeds greater than 35 mph, most wind generators have built-in overspeed controls that slow blade rotation to prevent damage. This reduces power output and increases wear and tear. While some wind generators cannot survive wind speeds above 50 mph, others can endure wind speeds up to 120 mph.
d. Good Wind. For optimum performance, a wind generator should be located far away and well above the nearest obstacle that could affect the quality of wind by introducing turbulence. Some say a wind generator should be located at least 300 feet away and 30 feet above the nearest obstacle, while others suggest a horizontal distance of 200 feet and vertical height of 20 feet is satisfactory. It all depends on the location. An 80-foot tower is not unheard of.
WHERE TO BEGIN
So what's the best means of generating power in the Aftertime? This depends on many factors including your geographic location, how much power you envision your group requiring, what your group's capabilities are and what your available resources are for obtaining energy system components.
If you wish to have electrical power in the Aftertime, its essential that your survival group contain at least one person with sufficient knowledge to be capable of either salvaging the necessary parts in the Aftertime or building the group's renewable energy system from commercially available components right now. Personally, I believe this also includes the ability to build a generator from raw materials since there's no assurance power generating devices, despite how carefully protected, will survive the Pole Shift.
For those interested in learning how to build wind generators from raw materials, I highly recommend Hugh Piggott's, A Wind Turbine Recipe Book. This book is also available for download. I endorse this book because I was successful building a wind generator using it's instructions. The book includes plans for building 4', 6', 8', 10', 12' and 14' rotor diameter wind generators and is available in English or metric units.
So if your intention is to generate power in the Aftertime, how do you intend to accomplish it?
We need to start talking about this now. After the 7 of 10 hits, it might be too late.
Here's some pics of the wind generator blades being carved from 2 x 8 planks of white cedar. The rotor consists of three blades, 5 feet long each for a rotor diameter of 10 feet. This wind generator will produce 1500 Watts max, but will produce 800W in 7 mph winds.
The blades are carved using only a draw knife and block plane. Here's an unfinished blade clamped down on a dwelling frame.
The wind generator is essentially a permanent magnet generator that produces Three Phase Alternating Current. The generator has two magnet rotors which spin on either side of a stator containing nine coils. The magnetic flux from each magnet passing over the coils induces a voltage in the coils. At higher wind speeds, the rotors spin faster and produce a higher voltage.
The first picture below is a magnet rotor disk. It is made from carbon steel, 14 inches in diameter and 3/8" thick. In order to position the magnets properly on the disk, a wooden jig needs to be fastened with the spaces for the magnets cut out. These N42 grade neodymium magnets are extremely powerful and have to be handled very carefully.
Since the wind generator produces 3-Phase AC, this first needs to be converted into DC (direct current) in order to charge the batteries. This is accomplished by means of a rectifier which is constructed using rectifier blocks that contain diodes. These diodes will produce considerable heat in high winds and need to be secured to a large aluminum heat sink to help dissipate this heat and preserve their service life.
Thanks, Howard. An excellent posting. You guys are a superb team, and sometimes (too many times) I feel I just do not have anything else of use to add. Thanks !!!
Regarding how to generate electric power in the months to come, and in the aftertime, I have been thinking a lot on this matter.
First, I'd like to tall the attention to this posting : http://www.google.cl/search?source=ig&hl=es&rlz=1G1TSLA_ESC...
Yes, any current induction motor can run as a generator under certain circumstances. This is very important, since we should think of stuff we may find anywhere around. The most popular motors are squirrel cage motors, cheap, rugged, low maintenance. And they are everywhere. Besides, I would think the capacity to generate several kilowatts, maybe in excess, may give us a few unexpected alternatives of use, and flexibility.
Regarding the turbine, I would think I want to go vertical axis, this type : http://www.generadoreolicowm.com/barcowm/default-esp.htm
It is efficient, using both low and high winds, rugged, easy to build (almost out of rubble), and low cost. You may also stack one upon another turbine, to build a tower (a rugged one) to better use the air flow.
Of course, between the turbine and the driven generator there must be a speed multiplying box, which I mean to build using a pulley arrangement. I would think, the turbine shaft speed must be multiplied by a factor of 15, approx. Not too hard to make. A few pulleys and shafts mounted in a box should do the job.
The motor must always run above the nameplate speed, to be able to act as a generator, otherwise it would not run as a generator.
The other secret is that, should the motor have lost the magnetization of its' core, it will not generate. The trick seems to be, just give it a touch (a few seconds), on the terminals, with a 12 V current car battery. I believe that should be enough.
Yes, perhaps the output voltage or the output power will not be that stable. But it will work.
This is a simple arrangement. Of course it may be improved, perhaps by adding an inertia wheel, or couterbalances on the turbine, or a voltage regulating box on the output terminals, a circuit breaker on the load line, etc, etc.
But we should think of a simple and effective arrangement, which may use the stuff we may easily find arround.
I would use the most popular voltage, extendedly used in my country. The light bulbs, the insulation level, new motors of the same voltage rating as to build other such generators, etc, all of them of the same voltage rating.
And yes, the best option for lighting purposes is the LED alternative. Long lasting, weather resistant, efficient.
Have thought I wanted to share these thoughts ...
Thanks a lot for your posting, Howard.
Thanks for your comments, Jorge, but I must disagree with them. While induction motors can be modified to function as AC generators, this requires a minimum shaft speed of 1800 RPM. Such applications utilize gasoline engines to meet this criteria which would not easily be satisfied by incorporating "a few pulleys and shafts" in conjunction with a vertical axis wind generator, whose speed is variable (dependent upon wind speed). Also, it is my experience that vertical axis wind generators are not "easy to build" and possess intrinsic problems associated with fatigue, as well as starting and stopping, making them a poor choice for wind energy IMO.
Hello, Howard. Thanks for your comments. Look, whan I was talking about a few pulleys and shafts I was referring to such an arrangement like this one : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3tfPY8kUt4
Even though the generator on this YouTube presentation seems to be a 900 RPM one, pls notice that the first pulley which is directly driven by the water turbine (pls look at Part 1 of the same presentation) seems to run at some 60 to 100 RPM only.
I do not think it would be too hard to just add one additional speed multiplying wheel to achieve beyond the 1800 (60 HZ for some countries) or the 1500 RPM (for my country) generating speed.
Anyway, I think in the next few months I'll try a prototype, and then share my experience with you guys. But, from the conceptual standpoint, it looks quite possible.
By the way, we should keep in mind how long the stuff we use is supossed to last. How lond does a squirrel cage last ? The weakest point of such a generator (or motor) is the bearings. What kind of grease should we use for maintenance? But it may happen than new bearing may be found around, specially if we use very standard type of motor. Perhaps we can use anumal fat to grease the bearings ? (Of course, a lot of questions, and a lot of creativeness and improvisation, while we are trying to survive in the Aftertime) ...
How long a regular car battery is supossed to last? Probably 3 years. If a sealed battery, there is nothing we can do to help it goind dead. If not sealed, how could we revive it? Using orange juice?
Yes, if we could count on a steady water flow, if is much more stable that air flow, for generating purposes.
I think, it all depends on the air flux, on your location, as to count on a stable power generation payout. And perhaps we can add hanging couterweights, to control the speed beyond the air flow changes. and/or an inertia wheel, for the same reason. And, if a stopping means should be required, I would try a Prony Break (two beams which act as a scissors on the shaft) to slow it down or stop it. Maybe just a couple of wooden beams with pieces of tire added on their center (?).
Anyway, this is the show, fellows. And it is just starting. This is why the Zetas have been advising us to go to a safe pace now, and face NOW, the problems we will face in the future. Those who are fortunate, as to do ti now, are in a much better position than those who will just start, some time in the future, tryuing to solve the problems a country style life may pose in front of them. We will need to be quite creative, and use our minds and a llot of improvisation, and use the stuff we have in hand, to solve many, many problems. (Pls, don't swear all the time when trying to solve any problems, I can assure you will meet much more problems than you now think). The reason why I'm proposing this type of vertical turbine, is because it may be built out ot straight shaped parts only (perhaps, rubble), which may be found anywhere around. And, calculations and measurements run on it seem to point towards a very ruggend and efficient layout both on high and low winds.
I would like to start building a prototype in the next few months, and I will share my results with you, whatever the results. Again, thanks a lot, Howard, and Zeta Human team. Thos bog is extremely valuable.
Sorry for the wrong spelling or phrasing of my comments above. Redacted around 03:00 AM somehow in a rush. Pls accept my appologies ...
You have not mentioned solar power...of which there is much out there, tho I am not an expert....and i think it's one way to go.....
Beckyperson , there is not going to be much sun shine for along time. after the P/S. Other energy will be very helpful
Yes, Deborah is very right. For quite some time solar power will be a poor source of power, as the sun will be hidden by the cloud and ash cover, the atmosphere rebuilding itself, thus - no sun. We will simply have to turn out attention to other means. For example, rivers and streams will be aplenty, and fuller than ever, so water wheels would be a great option for some, others it will not. It all depends on the area. There is always a way.
I am a new member and still not sure how much I can say, but I want to recommend a couple of books, one that was written not with earthquakes and volcanoe dust in mind, but in the case of an emp., the types of staph infections and deaths that will happen within the first week, from people that no longer have meds, how we will have to rely on bikes and walking (after you read it you will be ready to get into shape!) how people die of infection from wounds caused by chain saws and garden tools, how those that know how to work on carburators are as valuable as a doctor, how they had to pull out old issues of mother earth news to learn how to build a steam engine to pump water from the reservoir, and life for a year after the lights went off and planes dropped out of the sky and cars stopped on the roads. dare I say the name of the book? I have notes in mine and things I buy every time I go to the store, like picking salt and honey. I am so thankful I have a treddle sewing machine, a manual water pump, old wash boards etc. my fear now is that it will do no one any good where I live, as I live east of the balcones fault line and I am trying to determine where I should be moving to.
i also want to recommend you save old odd socks for wicks and jars, like wine bottles and mayonaise jars to use to make oil lamps.