Zero Gravity Hydroelectricity

A quick disclaimer: I have done no actual mathematical research on the subject, this is just a fun idea I wanted to write about.  Please chime in with some mathematical insight!

So, hydroelectric power generation occurs when the mechanical energy of moving water is used to rotate a hydro-turbine generator, which generates electricity.  Setting aside the size and design of the turbine generator and the turbine blades, three things that greatly contribute to hydroelectric output are volume of water flow, head height, and gravity.

Head height is the distance that the water falls, measured by the distance from its static origin to the turbine generator.  Volume of water flow is a measurement of how much water passes a certain point (usually the hydro-turbine generator) per a unit of time.  Gravity is gravity, a mysterious force that accelerates objects together in proportion to their mass.

Water flow that is used in a hydro-turbine generator gains mechanical energy as gravity accelerates water towards the earth’s surface and through the generator.  Once the water passes through the generator it may continue to flow somewhere else or it may come to rest somewhere.

So what I’m proposing is this: Imagine a hydroelectric generator system that is in some sort of cosmic bubble in which an operator can change the local force of gravity inside the system at any given moment. The system is also designed with some sort of elevator system that can transport the water that has already passed through the turbine back up into the penstock of the system.

So, the operator turns the force of gravity up really high as the water flows down through the penstock and towards the system, electricity is created.  Then, the operator turns the gravity way down (perhaps just above zero so the water stays contained) and the elevator carries the water back into the penstock using very little energy because the force of gravity is so low that the water being carried weighs practically nothing.

Seems simple enough!  All we need to invent now is a gravity controlling “bubble” that uses less energy to change the force of gravity than the hydro-turbine generator can create?  So, maybe we can put a hydro-generator in one of those zero gravity airplanes that trains astronauts? Or maybe we can put a hydro turbine on a spaceship that can change speeds quickly and in any direction?

Perhaps a spaceship that is constantly spinning, forcing water inside it to constantly spin through a circular hydro-turbine?  Take a look at the diagram below:

Hydro Turbine in Space

Say that this rotating ship was in zero gravity outer space.  It is built with some sort of propulsion jet that will force the ship to rotate at high speeds.  Inside is a circular tube of water with a set of hydro-turbine generators.  Would the rotating force of the jets send the zero-gravity water in the other direction at the same speed and through the hydro-turbine generators?  Maybe it could be a fluid more dense than water for better results?  Would this work?



3 thoughts on “Zero Gravity Hydroelectricity

  1. Would not work.

    Hydroelectric power generation is only possible inside of a gravity well to counter the force of centripetal inertia, forcing water into gravity assisting channels.

    In a zero-g spaceship the water would be freely flung about inside, resulting in a brief moment of power generation until the momentum of the water matches the momentum of the ship, further speedup would result in net energy loss.

  2. Wow thaat wwas odd. I juzt wrote an very loong
    comment but aftewr I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.
    Grrrr… well I’m noot writing all that over again. Anyhow,
    just wanted to say wonderful blog!

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