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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Backyard, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

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Backyard, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
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Registered: August 2011
City/Town/Province: Natrona Heights
Posts: 1
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Hydroelectricity through Rainwater Collection: World Impact Starts in Your Own Backyard

In 2004, when I was just 9 years old, the tenth most intense Atlantic hurricane was ever recorded: Ivan. My parents were keeping a watchful eye on the news as the cyclone barreled though the south and headed north. On September 17, I was awed by the hurricane’s ability to cause gusty winds, tornados, and a severe downpour in my hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My family and I saw the very last of the evening news, “And there is much flooding around the area. Keep an eye on basements and cellars.” As I took those 10 steps into our basement with my father, the water started to seep through my socks. My house was flooding with water! We hurried to grab wedding pictures, photo books, school projects, tax boxes…ANYTHING! It was a headache and nightmare as we lost so many memories in the soaking boxes. Today, it is a common occurrence when we have to say “I had that but we lost it in the flood” or ”Oh I remember that…I bet we had to dispose of it because of the flood.”

I became familiar with a rain barrel during the summer of 2009 when I approached a local environment fair’s booth. The Nine Mile Run Watershed Association and its organization’s commitment of implementing rain barrels in my hometown of Pittsburgh were inspiring. I soon became curious of there was any way to additionally enhance the rain barrel to help the environment.

From my toddler days to early teenage years, I have grown up with building blocks. Soon enough, I was analyzing everything around me. I am dedicated to pursuing my life goal as an engineer. Five years from now, I see myself finishing up a nationally accredited engineering program working in ecology and environmental research. So, when I first discovered the rain barrel, I looked to engineering for ways to enhance this already environmentally useful device.

During my second year of my project, which started in the summer of 2010, the engineering goal was to generate a greater amount of electricity in my rain barrel than year one by implementing the hydroelectric system to my home. The purpose was to create more electricity by enhancing the components of my generator.

Water with potential energy can change the world! In the United States today, hydroelectric power generates ten percent of US electricity and sixty-seven percent of US renewable energy. However, we are currently at a maximum of plants because falling water generated by a dam is not appropriate everywhere. Hydroelectricity does not solely rely on the basics of Michael Faraday’s Law. It also relies on the water cycle. In my region, of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the average rainfall is 98 centimeters per year. There is an efficient way to collect all of the precipitated downspout water by using the rain barrel. Rain barrels are mandatory to have in various locations around the United States such as big cities, but also imperative to have for the survival of many individuals in developing countries. If every home in Southwestern Pennsylvania had a rain barrel, for one rainfall we could save 1.5 billion liters of water in just Southwestern Pennsylvania alone.

After construction of my system, I measured the amount of electricity produced and calculated the amount of money saved and carbon dioxide diminished from the atmosphere.

My results of my project showed me that I generated three times more electricity than year one, which was statistically significant. With my generator system, seven six-volt batteries could be filled within a year. If 100 homes in Southwestern Pennsylvania installed the hydroelectric generating rain barrel, 700 batteries would be filled within a year. These batteries could be deposited back into the power grid or even sent to disaster areas around the world in need of electricity.

I contacted Create Change Africa to learn about their water crisis relief efforts in Ghana and how rain barrels impact developing countries with a limited supply of drinking water. In several of these countries, people rely on the rain and collection of water from a barrel to survive. By installing my rain barrel in developing countries, the communities’ lives of millions will be impacted. Not only can a fresh water supply be possible, but electricity could be made possible as well!

The ultimate goal of my project is to institute my project everywhere in the world. By doing this, the luxury of energy could be made possible throughout the world. My project will impact the world and is currently impacting the environment because of my home’s hydroelectric generation.

Locally, as the engineer of this project, I have brought awareness of the world’s water and energy crisis to my family, my school, and the city of Pittsburgh. Through this individual project, I have proposed to companies within the city the importance of the rain barrel and my device and the future of sustainability.

By implementing my system to one home in my community, annually approximately 2.63 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions would be diminished from the atmosphere. This is of vital importance to me because my home state, Pennsylvania, is ranked third nationally in highest emissions, and it is projected that within ten years we could be ranked first. Also, almost $50 could be saved for a family’s home electric bill by the generation of approximately 4, 552 watts of power annually.

I am currently in the process of obtaining a patent for my project. I plan on proposing my project to several organizations and also various government programs.

The rain barrel solely also has enormous impacts to our environment. And by working with the local organizations, we are conserving our world water and preventing flooding in our area. When I first heard about a rain barrel and the benefits such as reducing flooding, I became so passionate about bringing awareness to homes with out this device. It can change lives! I continue to think that if we had a rain barrel then, I didn’t have to lose my first science project or building blocks. I learned that Pittsburgh recorded the highest 24-hour rainfall on that date. A lot of rain barrels could have been filled!

My vision is to one day impact our world by not only reducing emissions but also save lives through addressing the world water crisis and also provide electricity for communities who could prosper immensely by a little drop of water that created electricity in your own back yard!

Please visit:

*My web-site provides a detailed account of my project with charts and photos.
· Date: August 3, 2011 · Views: 3717 · File size: 158.7kb, 939.4kb · : 572 x 763 ·
Hours Volunteered: 100
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16
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