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Rain Turbine

A system for collecting drinkable rainwater and generating electricity.

Photo of James Piacentini
22 15

Written by

EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

One major challenge facing people living in slums is rain. For many, rainwater is a primary source of drinkable water. However, heavy rainfall is also dangerous, leading to erosion, flooding, and damage to structures if left unmitigated. Climate change will only exacerbate these conditions, and as weather becomes less predictable, taking advantage of rainfall when it happens is a must. Rain Turbine addresses three challenges faced by people living in slums: 1) erosion and flooding 2) access to drinkable water and 3) access to electricity. Rain Turbine collects rainwater before it hits the ground, reducing the change of erosion and flooding. Collected water is then run through a small turbine, taking advantage of the potential and kinetic energy of falling rain. The turbine generates a small amount of electricity which can be stored in a battery. Finally, the water flows through a simple filter, cleaning it before it is stored in a cistern for later use. Rain Turbine is an entirely passive system, utilizing existing on-site materials and inexpensive 3D-printed components that allow for easy maintenance when necessary.

WHO BENEFITS?

The beneficiaries are people living in slums who do not have adequate access to clean drinking water or electricity, and are at risk of damage to their homes by unmitigated rain. Rain Turbine seeks to improve these conditions by preventing rainwater from hitting the ground, and utilizing the collected water to generate small amounts of electricity and provide clean, drinkable water. Rain Turbine is best implemented in regions with wetter climates such as Southeast Asia or South America.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

As a small-scale intervention Rain Turbine seeks to take advantage of already existing space to collect rain: roofs, and to maximize the potential good that rainwater can bring. Most roofs are unused spaces, and by collecting rain that falls on them rather than letting it continue down into the soil, Rain Turbine can generate large amounts of drinkable water without having to impede on other used space. The design is small in profile, and flexible enough to attach to almost any type of dwelling. Rain Turbine is also an opportunity for people in slums to become more self-dependent. Many people in slums do not have adequate access to electricity and other basic needs, and a structure like Rain Turbine can provide energy where the urban electrical grid cannot or does not.

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Not yet

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for less than one year

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I am a graduate of UC Berkeley's department of architecture. I am fascinated with design, and urban structures. Design is a passion of mine, and I believe designers have a responsibility to work toward making the world a better, safer, and healthier place.

22 comments

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Photo of mHS CITY LAB
Team

Neat idea to take advantage of the potential and kinetic energy of falling rain while also collecting the water for later use. How large is the rain collection spout? How will you maximize the rain intake? You might be interested in the 'umbrella' concept on the project, Flexible Rainwater Harvest/Storage System (https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/urban-resilience/ideas/flexible-rainwater-harvest-storage-system).

Photo of James Piacentini
Team

Thanks, I'll check out the umbrella concept as I continue to refine this idea. Maximizing collection will be a key concern.

Photo of mHS CITY LAB
Team

Great! Yes it will be important to collect water efficiently.

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