Gravity-Powered Solar Tracker

gravity powered solar tracker

The SunSaluter is an ultra low-cost, passive, single-axis solar panel rotator (called a tracker) designed for the developing world. Using only the power of gravity and water, the SunSaluter enables a solar panel to follow the sun throughout the day, boosting efficiency by 30% and producing four liters of clean drinking water.

It is 30 times less expensive than conventional motorized solar panel rotators (which use complex electronics), much more reliable, and consumes no electricity itself. With improved efficiency, fewer solar panels are needed, and the overall cost per watt of solar energy is reduced.

The SunSaluter features an adjustable design which allows it to integrate with any solar panel – no special tools needed. The solar panels are mounted on the rotating frame, a weight is suspended from one end, and a special waterclock is suspended from the other. As the water empties and the container gets lighter, the panel slowly rotates. The user can set the rate at which the waterclock empties, which controls the SunSaluter’s rate of rotation.

The SunSaluter also contains a water purifier so that each day it produces four liters of clean drinking water. By combining energy and water collection into one simple device, the SunSaluter improves consistent usage of the purifier, which is the Achilles heel of clean water programs. SunSaluters are available for purchase anywhere in the world as a DIY-kit, or in India as prefabricated systems.

More information: SunSaluter. Via Makeshift, who made a video about the technology.

Human Powered Ferris Wheel

human-powered-ferris-wheel

You could power a ferris wheel with pedals and cranks — but these guys add gravity & guts to the power mix. The human powered ferris wheel. Picture credit: Dirty Wall Project. Thanks to Giuliana Fornaciari.

“Gravity Powered” Lights (and How to Make Them More Powerful)

gravity powered lights

The GravityLight uses a sack of sand or stones to gradually pull a piece of rope through a dynamo mechanism which generates electricity to power an LED. It is a cheaper and more sustainable option than a solar powered light, which requires not only a solar panel but also a battery. The product is aimed at the developing world and its makers raised 400,000 dollars at indiegogo.

The technology could be further improved by including pulley mechanisms that were used to operate human powered cranes and lifting devices in pre-industrial times. This would allow a person to lift heavier weights and thus power more powerful lights.

To be precise, the light is not powered by gravity. It is muscle-powered, while gravity stores the energy and fulfills the role of a battery. Hat tip to Bernd Vleugels.

How to Make an Adult Soapbox Kart

adult soapbox cart

“This guide will teach you the basic aspects you’ll need to consider to make yourself a road-worthy gravity-powered vehicle. Full suspension on gokart wheels, driver restraints, a ridgid frame with roll bar, and balanced drum brakes are features of the example kart I’ve built that weighs in at under 100lb.”

Of course, this thing only works downhill and is useless as a practical means of transport. But could we please get rid of the Indy 500 and the Formula One circus and race these karts instead? Seems like a lot more fun to me. Previously: DIY replicas of 1930s race cars.

Aerial Ropeways in Nepal

Aerial ropeways in nepal “The gravity ropeway is an inexpensive and simple means of transportation. It operates by gravitational force without the use of external power. The gravity ropeway consists of two trolleys which roll on support tracks. These are attached to a control cable in the middle which moves in a traditional flywheel system. When the loaded trolley at the up-station is pulled downward by the force of gravity, the other trolley at the bottom-station is pulled up automatically by means of the control cable.

In principal the goods coming downward from the up-station must to be thrice as heavy as the up-going load. The sliding down of the trolley and its speed depends upon the angle of elevation made by the cables installed with the horizontal ground.

A flywheel with bearing and bracket is used as a brake to control the landing speed of the trolley at the bottom-station. Communication between top and bottom stations is done by tapping the wire rope. The operator at the top-station strikes the wire rope with a stick to send a wave signal through the wire rope to the operator at the down-station. The operator at the down-station then applies the hand brake to control the flywheel.”

Read more (building plans included). In-depth article: “Aerial ropeways: automatic cargo transport for a bargain“. Related: Water powered cable trains & (for those lacking mountains) Electric road trains 1901-1950.