Problem Statement

To approach an integrated framework involving the efficient capture and utilisation of renewable energy source(s) in tropical urban environments.


Inspiration REGN b

Clockwise, from top left:
The Umbrellas by Jean Claude & Christos – California;USA (1991), Singapore; Singapore (2010), Johor; Malaysia (2011), Taipei City, Taiwan (2010)


A quantitative study was conducted to explore and inform the final design.  To simplify the process, testing was conducted in component groups consisting of: funnelling, levitation and generation.

Process money

The study was concluded with the fabrication of a demonstrator prototype to communicate the functioning principles of the design:


i. Funnelling

Field observations were replicated to to understand pipe structures and fluid flow characteristics.

Funnels based upon the 3″ x 4″ spigot connector inserts were fabricated to ensure an acceptable level of accurate taper:


Notice how the body of fluid envelopes the surface area of the internal walls of a pipe:

High and Low Flow Examples

Slight modifications were made to alter the motion of fluid flow within the pipe column.  ‘Rifled’ barrels and turbulator fins were considered to increase the rate of flow at various junctures but subsequently dropped in favour on the rationale of a smooth internal pipe war to reduce clogging.

Flow modification Examples

Subsequently, a static rig was set up to capture video footage of fluid flow at various flow quantity and speeds.  This was analysed to produce an aggregate of the stream convergence points:



ii. Levitation

The idea of levitation was inspired by child’s levitating spindle toy. It was realised early on this could be adapted as a form of magnetic bearing.

Multiple points of levitation were evaluated through quick mock-ups:


Tolerance/fitting issues reveal the vulnerability of the nickel plating (on the neodymium magnets) during assembly; nicks and scratches resulted in oxidation upon exposing the mock-ups to moisture:

Rusted Magnets 

A four-point system provides the best balance of support and compact frame size:


iii. Generation

Electrical energy conversion from kinetic energy is based on electromagnetic induction.  Multiple rigs of different sets of magnets and coils were used to verify that an electromotive force was indeed generated:



Test results were interpreted as optimistic despite low values.  This is because higher rotational speeds are expected when the spindle is driven by fluid flow instead of being spun by hand.

Final Design

As the measurements were translated into successive iteration of CAD models, the demonstrator prototype was put together based on the final model data.  

The choice of clear acrylic as the base material for the prototype allows for a see-through experience otherwise hampered by opaque surfaces.





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