Comparing the Voltage Output of Water in Drop and Flow Form Using a Piezoelectric Sensor and Hydroelectric Turbine

(1) Greenwich Academy, Greenwich, Connecticut

Due to the harmful effects of broadly used energy sources, alternative energy sources have been widely studied. One area of interest is transferring kinetic water energy in nature, as in that from water flowing or falling, into electrical output. This work address the question of whether more voltage would be created by (rain) drops hitting a piezoelectric surface or by that same volume of water flowing through a hydroelectric turbine. To test this question, we built an apparatus for the piezoelectric (drops) system and purchased a small hydroelectric turbine for the flow system. We then used the two systems to measure the amount of voltage generated by drops of water and compared the data produced by each apparatus to see which system produced the greatest amount of voltage. The results showed that, despite the change in the form of the water, the average voltage produced both by the drops hitting the piezoelectric sensor and by the flow running through the turbine was virtually the same. The drops created on average slightly more voltage than the flow (whose volume was converted to the same estimated volume of each singular drop for comparison) did. These data show that directly harnessing the kinetic energy found in falling raindrops is as viable an option for an alternative energy source as are hydroelectric turbines doing the same with the kinetic energy found in flowing water.

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