Web Site of Robert John Morton
Sustainable Energy: Alternators
With the exception of the photo-voltaic cell, all the other means, so far discussed, for generating electricity produce mechanical power. This must be converted into electrical power by means of an alternator.
For a bio-diesel, or any other kind of device delivering mechanical power via a rotating shaft, a conventional rotary alternator is required. For my linear Stirling engine, a linear alternator is simply fitted to its reciprocating shaft. In either case, the rating of the alternator must match the power provided by its driving device.
An alternative way of driving an alternator is with wind. Various small wind-driven alternators are available delivering a maximum of about 250 watts. Unfortunately, large wind generators or even lots of small ones, are deemed unsightly by many communities. Nevertheless, one small 250 watt unit can make a worth-while contribution to domestic needs as a supplement to that provided by other means. It is also very simple and hence very reliable. Owing to the great variability of wind, a very sophisticated controller is needed in order to optimise power acquisition under such a wide range of conditions.
Another alternative way of driving an alternator is a mountain stream. Nice if you can get it, but not many people will have one conveniently close to hand.
© January 2001 - Robert John Morton