A low-cost way to harness energy from a rushing river provides a viable solution for remote communities.

Photo Credit: Mobile Hydro  

Photo Credit: Mobile Hydro

 

Tidal and wave energy are too expensive to be considered mainstream sources of power, but a new development from a German engineering team shows the potential of using tidal energy in remote communities. 

The team has called their idea the Mobile Hydro, which is a floating rubber ring with three rotors. It is portable and can provide continuous power, unlike solar and wind energy. However, its energy potential isn't huge.

The ring is moored to a bank and turns its blades with the help of the natural swirl of the river. A generator captures the energy and transfers it to a battery and transformer kit on the bank. 

"The main target is isolated areas without grid connections. In a few steps, local energy providers, small business holders, farmers, and households can produce electricity at minimum costs," said Andreas Zeiselmair, who is working on a second prototype with his colleagues, Markus Heinsdorff and Christoph Helf. They hope to have a full product ready by the end of the year. 

Fast Company reports that the team is hoping to achieve a continuous power output of 300 watts, which can power a fridge or TV. They also have plans to carry out pilot projects in Latin America, East Africa and India next year. 

It is very mobile," said Zeiselmair. "It's lightweight with a small packing size, which makes it perfect if you're changing locations a lot."