Scotland’s Carruthers Renewables and Strathclyde University have teamed up to explore and manufacture a novel water wheel for developing countries.
Invented by former maths lecturer turned civil engineer Penelope Carruthers, the Carruthers Wheel is the first water wheel to be patented in nearly 138 years.
It produces electricity from waterfalls and rivers with less than five metres drop: This height has been previously deemed unviable and unprofitable because of the high cost of turbines for small bodies of water.
Carruthers will utilize Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Center’s (AFRC) expertise in advanced manufacturing methods to select the most cost-effective and sustainable way of making the wheels.
Once they move to the production stage, these flat-pack Carruthers Wheels can then be shipped to small communities – many of which will be experiencing low-cost electricity for the first time, where they can be installed and maintained by local unskilled workers.
“According to a recent United Nations hydropower report, there are millions of sites worldwide with a river or waterfall of less than five metres drop, especially across sub-Saharan Africa and south-east Asia,” notes AFRC’s Ekaterina McKenna.
“In the small communities surrounding these sites, less than 10% of the population have access to electricity.”
With millions of such sites being identified across the world, there remains a hugely untapped resource, which has the possibility to change the lives of people in the surrounding towns and villages, notes Penelope Carruthers.
Image and content: Carruthers Renewables/Ian McConnell-HeraldScotland