An employee of the government’s power distributing utility patented a design for a generator which runs on gravity instead of fuel.
Syed Anwar Ali, a stenographer in Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), created the design, for what he likes to call an “alternator” – a 50 kilowatt power generating machine.
According to Ali, the whole setup will cost around Rs2.5 million but will be extremely cheap to maintain.
Usually, generators which produce this much power consume around four litres of diesel per hour. With the cost of diesel running as high as almost Rs99 per litre, running the generator for an hour alone can cost about Rs400.
On the other hand the alternator’s monthly cost of maintenance will only be around Rs1,000, Ali said, apart from the salary given to the staff hired for operating it.
According to its creator, the alternator will work continuously for seven to 10 days and then require a break of two to three hours for maintenance and oiling. “It is designed for commercial and industrial use.”
Ali refused to tell more about the design of his prototype, except that about four tons of iron will be required for ball bearings, shafts and two flying wheels of the alternator. Two iron flying wheels, each weighing a ton will be fitted on the side of the machine and will revolve like a Ferris wheel to produce power. However Ali refused to provide the specifications for fear that his design might be plagiarised.
Ali’s design was endorsed by Prof. Rashid Memon of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET). He said that producing energy through gravity was scientifically possible. He said that although MUET’s electrical engineering department has yet to work on the concept because of the huge expenditure required, prototypes were made in other countries.
Earlier in 2008, Ali made another patent of a bigger and more expensive project, which also used gravity as the fuel and was taken up by the President’s Secretariat in Islamabad and referred to National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) for a presentation.
The cost of the project ran up to millions. A 20-kilometre-long railway line with the conductor used in electric railways, four electric train engines, 80 turbines capable of producing 6 megawatts of power each and 16 railway trolleys, among other materials, were the basic requirements.
“That design was aimed to generate between 200 and 1,000 megawatts of power which would have required tens of billions of rupees, an amount agreeably too high,” said Ali. The experts at NUST and PCRET thought that a smaller model should be tested first before spending billions of rupees.
“I conceptualised this model acting on their advice,” Ali said. “For a country whose industrial and commercial sectors are suffering from energy crisis, an affordable and fuel free power generator can be the solution.” In fact, he went as far as to claim that his alternator will remove the need to use fuel altogether.
The stenographer appealed to the government, especially President Asif Ali Zardari, and the business community to help him develop the prototype.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.
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