What is the problem?
The new normal in Ukrainian cities is when a hairdresser pours diesel from a canister into a generator with her manicured fingers while on the other side of the street, a barista connects a wi-fi router to an inverter so that cafe patrons can work.
Power outages continue to be a feautre of Ukrainians' day to day reality as russia goes on deliberately targeting the country's energy infrastructure. With the energy grid unable to produce as much energy as the country normally consumes, power cuts – both planned and unexpected – have left Ukrainians looking for new solutions.
Generators burning diesel is among the simplest of ways to get the lights back on, but also among the worst for the air and environment. Find out what creative solutions everyday Ukrainians have managed to come up with.
What is the solution?
DIY hydroelectric power plant
Ivan Vereshchak, a resident of Vinnytsia, built a small hydroelectric power station on the Vinnychka River, approximately 30 meters from the high-rise building where he lives.
It works the same way traditional water mills have been used for centuries. As Vereshchak explains, the flowing stream of water pushes the buckets, turning the wheel and generating torque force from the wheel axle and transmitting it to the gearbox.
To produce a kilowatt of electricity, 50 cubic meters of water per minute falling from a height of four meters is required. In turn, the Vinnychka River can produce 150–300 Watts.
Vereshchak, an amateur engineer, spent five months creating the device. Since he already understood all the science he needed, he only needed to select and install a generator with a capacity from 12 to 220 V, which would be able to generate and store electricity. Meanwhile, the inventor has been using a generator borrowed from a tractor. The whole installation process cost him around $270, and will be able to provide his multi-storey building with electricity in a critical situation.
For you to implement such an idea on your own, Rubryka has found instructions on how to create an autonomous mini hydroelectric power station.
A power plant without a dam
This solution was created in 2010 by Dmytro Akishyn, an engineer from the Luhansk region in the east of Ukraine. Akishyn developed a small hydroelectric power station which works by lowering a wheel under water. The higher the river speed, the faster the wheel will turn, and the more electricity generated at the output.
Since 2019, such a hydroelectric power station has been powering the lights on the Mohyliv-Podilskyi embankment. At just six meters in diameter, it is not designed to generate energy on an industrial scale, but it can power about 900 apartments. For example, 80 such stations can replace the Dniester Hydroelectric Power Plant, which in peacetime provided power to the entire region.
A schoolboy's solution to collect electricity from the atmosphere
Ukrainian tenth-grader Samuil Kruglyak won a bronze medal among 2,000 young inventors around the world at the competition in 2018. His invention makes it possible to obtain electricity from the atmosphere using the strong electric field that generated from an artificial ionized cloud.
Kruglyak's low-cost and efficient invention, which can extract both water and electricity from the atmosphere, could provide the Kirovohrad region with as much as 82% more electricity.
The laboratory of the Academy of Sciences in Kyiv provided the base for the experiments. After a miniature model was successful, the project's second stage is planned to be implemented in Oleksandriia, in the Kirovohrad region in central Ukraine, where the pipe of the abandoned CHP-1-2 can be used as a generating tower. The main obstacle standing in the way is the cost.
Water supply that provides electricity to apartments
Several years ago, Artem Kudryavenkov from Kropyvnytskyi in the Kirovohrad region invented and patented a "smart water supply," which today can solve the electricity problem using the water supply.
The inventor's idea is to install a tank on the top floor of the house, which will produce electricity as water passes through hydro generators on its way down through the pipes and into consumers' homes.
A schoolboy proposed a simple technology at the presentation of the Small Academy of Sciences projects, and now the idea may turn out to be quite practical and useful.
Solar panels in an apartment building
SolarGaps – window blinds with photovoltaic modules installed on windows outside the house, are a Ukrainian invention. Solar panels placed directly on the blinds collect energy from the sun, while the structure itself provides shade inside the room.
The blinds have an automatic mode that enables the blinds to follow the angle of the sun in order to collect as much solar energy as possible. It can be used to power any devices that require electricity or house lighting. This is possible with the help of an inverter — a device that is connected to the grid to convert solar energy into electricity.
One square meter of solar blinds can generate up to 100 watts per hour. This power is enough to charge three laptops or ensure the operation of 20 light bulbs in the house.
This material was created by the online media outlet Rubryka within the framework of the Ukrainian Rapid Response Fund program, implemented by IREX, with the support of the US State Department. The content is the sole responsibility of the Rubryka online media and does not necessarily reflect the views of IREX or the US State Department.
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