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Building a solar, steam-powered generator pays you dividends by repeatedly producing free electricity. Use outside-the-box techniques and simple, ancient technology to build a functioning solar, steam-powered generator. A steam turbine turns the permanent magnet motor to generate electricity. The turbine, based on an ancient Greek design, has a built-in boiler heated by a solar, parabolic dish.
Items you will need
½-inch diameter 6-inch steel carriage bolt with threaded end
¼-inch drill bit
½-inch drill bit
12- to 120-volt inverter
12-foot long rubber fan belt strip
12-inch tall metal can with metal screw top
Black enamel paint
Cold welding compound
Four 3-foot long 2- by 4-inch boards
Metal trash can lid measuring 4 feet in diameter
Permanent magnet electric generator with ½-inch diameter threaded end turn rod
Three 6-foot long 2- by 4-inch boards
Two ½-inch diameter locking washers
Two ½-inch wing nuts
Two 3-inch pulleys with ½-inch diameter center hole
Two 6-inch ¼-inch in diameter 90-degree copper pipe elbows
White enamel paint
Create the parabolic heating dish
Smooth the inside of the metal trash can lid with sandpaper.
Cover the inside of the metal trash can lid with epoxy glue.
Cover the inside of the metal trash can lid with aluminum foil. Apply the foil as smoothly as possible.
Place metal polish on an old rag.
Polish the aluminum foil with the rag and metal polish. Get as close to a mirror shine as possible. This creates the parabolic solar heating dish that is needed to heat the steam turbine.
Create the steam turbine
Weld the 6-inch carriage bolt to the metal lid of the metal can using the cold welding compound. This will be the axle that turns the pulley to turn the generator.
Place the metal lid on the metal can. This will become the steam turbine.
Drill two ¼-inch holes into the side of the metal can. These two holes need to be on opposite sides of the can.
Using the cold welding compound, weld the ¼-inch diameter 6-inch 90-degree copper elbows into the holes in the can that were created in Step 3. Make sure the elbow ends point in opposite directions from one another when these 90-degree elbows are placed on the metal can. If both point in the same direction, the steam turbine will not work. The steam turbine device is now created.
Paint the steam turbine device with black enamel paint. This allows it to absorb the most heat possible during its exposure to solar energy.
Create the generator frame
Paint all 2- by 4-inch boards with white paint.
Screw the 6-foot long 2- by 4-inch boards together to create an H-shaped frame.
Screw the 3-foot long 2- by 4-inch boards into the H frame, on the ends of the two cross-pieces to create an H-shaped frame that stands three feet off the ground.
Drill a ½-inch hole two inches in from each end of the H-shaped frame, through the 6-foot long 2-by-4 that connects the two ends of the frame. These will be the holes where the steam turbine and the permanent magnet generator will be mounted.
Cover all of the H-shaped frame with aluminum foil. This step prevents solar heat from the parabolic dish from burning the wooden frame.
Connect the steam turbine to the generator frame
Push the ½-inch carriage bolt on the top of the steam turbine, through one of the ½-inch holes on one of the ends of the H-shaped generator frame, from the bottom. This should position the steam turbine to hang beneath the generator frame.
Weld a 3-inch diameter pulley with the ½-inch center hole onto the ½-inch carriage bolt, just above its exit at the top of the H-shaped frame. Use the cold welding compound to complete this step.
Place the ½-inch diameter locking washer over the threaded end of the carriage bolt.
Tighten the ½-inch wing nut on the threaded end of the carriage bolt to secure the steam turbine to the generator frame.
Loosen the metal can of the steam turbine from the top, on which the carriage bolt has been welded.
Fill the metal can part of the steam turbine with water, up to the point that water flows out of the steam exhaust tubes, on the sides of the metal can part of the turbine.
Fasten the metal can part of the steam turbine back onto the top, which is on the generator frame.
Connect the steam turbine to the permanent magnet generator
Fold the 12-foot rubber fan belt in half at the 6-foot mark.
Glue the two ends of the rubber fan belt together to create a 6-foot long circular belt.
Lay the 6-foot long circular belt onto the H-shaped generator frame.
Loop one end of the 6-foot long circular belt around the 3-inch pulley on the steam turbine end of the generator frame.
Loop the other end of the 6-foot long circular belt around the 3-inch pulley on the permanent magnet generator.
Connect the generator to the battery
Connect the positive and negative wires from the permanent magnet generator to the positive and negative points on the input side of the charge controller.
Attach the charge controller to the H-shaped generator frame, on the permanent magnet generator side.
Wire the battery positive and negative posts to the positive and negative points on the output side of the charge controller.
Connect the positive and negative wires of the 12- to 120-volt inverter unit to the positive and negative posts of the battery.
Slide the parabolic solar heating dish underneath the steam turbine, on the steam turbine end of the generator. The generator is complete at this point. It takes about an hour for the steam turbine to heat up, once the unit is placed in direct sunlight. Steam will then accumulate in the turbine. The steam turbine will spin, turning the permanent magnet generator to create electricity that is stored in the 12-volt battery. This electricity can be used either directly for 12-volt devices, or through the inverter for 120-volt devices.
Robert Dyer has worked as a freelance writer since 1998. He has had articles published in "Mississippi Gulf Coast Historical Quarterly. Dyer has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of South Alabama.