How to Build a Water Turbine

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How to Build a Water Turbine

You might think only professional engineers can create water turbines. The truth is, you can make your own water-propelled turbine using simple materials you can find at home. If you want to exercise the science geek inside you, here’s an easy and effective water turbine project you can try.

What You’ll Need:

  • Old unused bicycle
  • Small screws
  • Hollow plastic balls or small plastic cups
  • Car generator or alternator
  • Drill
  • Welder
  • Saw


  1. Get the bike. Even if it’s old, the parts must still be in working condition and free from damage, otherwise the water turbine will have trouble working. Take the front wheel of the bike, removing it from the body. You need to turn the axle nut counterclockwise so the wheel will be loosened.
  2. Take away the chain from your bicycle’s pedals. Rotate the chain as you push it off the center will help you finish this.
  3. Mount or weld the car alternator or generator to the pedals’ underside, so as the chain is properly wrapped around the pulley of the alternator, it’s centered. Get one of the pedal’s gear sockets and use it instead of the pulley. Welding the sprocket in place, and on the pulley’s top, is also all right. Make sure to check the gear-teeth clearances and that it’s centered. As the chain wraps around the sprocket, the alternator must turn with the rear wheel.
  4. Raise the bike seat as far as it can go. Loosen the screw plate and adjust it accordingly.
  5. Get a few dozen plastic balls, and saw them in half pieces.
  6. Carefully screw the small plastic cups or the plastic ball halves on the rear wheel of the bicycle, spaced two inches away from each other, and all going towards the same direction. These must move clockwise, matching the alternator.
  7. Now it’s time to test your water turbine. Place it upside down in a moving water source, such as a creek, so the bike’s seat is in the water. Make the cups face the water current, so they are pushing the wheel. If the water source is strong enough, the wheel will continue turning, creating 12 volts of electricity at a few amps.

All that’s left now is to wire the alternator, so you can power equipment or charge batteries. Step back and watch your water turbine masterpiece at work.