This project's funding goal was not reached on December 10, 2013.
About this project
Friends! We are near the end of our campaign and we need your donations! We have invented new ways to spin the Hydrobee with wind, bicycles, even farm carts pulled by animals - more ways to create useful power. We need your support to bring this to market!
There are over 700 million people who live without reliable electricity in developing countries and yet have mobile phones. They spend over $20 billion a year buying phone charges from local vendors with car batteries. With your help, millions of people will be able to charge their phones with free energy from nature and have better lives.
If you don't need a Hydrobee and are not interested in one of the rewards, please donate for those that need it the most. With your help we'll finish the product and be able to partner with non-profits and microfinance institutions to get these in the hands of people across the globe.
Watch Hydrobee founder Burt Hamner explain the origin and vision of Hydrobee on Youtube (5 minute video)
Gizmag - "Hydrobee wants to be your personal hydroelectric generator"
TechCrunch - "Hydrobee has clearly perfected the hydroelectric tech"
Treehugger - "Water flowing through or around the turbine charges the batteries. Then you pick it up and have a can full of electric 'juice' to go."
CleanTechnica - "For those living or recreating next to flowing water, there’s now another portable clean energy choice, this time using the power of flowing water to generate electricity."
Trendhunter - "When the zombie apocalypse takes place and a person finds him- or herself hiding in a forest or ravine with nothing more than a survival backpack, they could sure use the Hydrobee"
Oh Gizmo! - "Hydrobee is your own portable hydroelectric plant"
Geeky Gadgets - "Trekkers and campers that are looking to keep their devices juiced up while away from the grid, might be interested in a unique and innovative gadget called the Hydrobee."
Hydrobee Is Versatile
Hydrobee™ has two major parts that make it the most versatile hydropower technology ever. The Turbine Battery makes power and stores it for USB output, and can charge directly from a faucet or hose. The Stream Body holds the Battery so it can be charged by water flowing around it. But since anything that spins the turbines will generate electricity, there are more than 2 ways to power up a "can of juice!"
Charge the Hydrobee with the Stream Body in streams and rivers.
The Turbine Battery is inserted into the "belly" of the Stream Body which is tied to something secure before lowering it into a stream or towing it behind a moving boat for 2-3 hours. (Charging time will depend on the water velocity.) Once the battery has charged, remove the Stream Body from the water, take the battery out, uncover its USB port, and enjoy a full can of nature’s “juice”—clean energy for your phones, lights, and other gadgets.
Charge the HydroBee battery by itself from any faucet or hose.
Flow of only one gallon per minute will charge the battery. Every Hydrobee will include a simple rubber adapter which will attach it to most faucets and garden hoses. Whenever water is run for drinking, washing, or for any purpose, clean energy is generated and stored. Then the Hydrobee can be removed from the faucet and you can take it with you to charge your devices.
The Hydrobee can be used in many places for many devices
The variety of gadgets that run on USB power increases every day: Phones, tablets, LED lights, medical instruments, ventilation fans, water purifiers, environmental sensors and more. Now they can be powered by the water flowing around us.
Flowing water is the untapped micro-power resource
Our hydropower system is the first affordable alternative to other “off-grid” USB charging technologies already on the market:
Solar power is often unpredictable and inadequate in many parts of the world, and solar panels big enough to put out true USB 3.0 power are expensive (at least twice the price of Hydrobee) and not very portable. You can charge the Hydrobee any time of day or night, and in any weather, wherever you can find running water. Streams, rivers and/or water pipes can be reliable power sources for months at time, in even the stormiest weather conditions.
Thermo-electric chargers built into cook-pots and fire kits require that you keep up a steady, hot fire for at least three hours to provide one full battery charge. These systems go through a lot of fuel, fast, and you can’t leave them unattended for more than a few minutes at most. With HydroBee, you can just set it in the water and leave! The battery will charge on its own.
Hand-crank generators will tire you out trying to get a full charge! They require even more sustained attention than a thermo-electric charger, and your hands can’t work on other things while they’re turning a crank. In contrast, the Hydrobee lets running water do the work for you. Your hands and energy are free to work on other things, while your generator charges.
The Hydrobee is simple, powerful, and stands out from the rest! Water flowing at a fast walking speed (about 4 mph) has enough energy to charge the 6 AA batteries in the Hydrobee can in about 2 hours. Those batteries send power to a USB 2.0 ports on the can body that put out 5V 1A power - this is a global standard for charging most phones and USB gadgets. You get recharging power reliably, without getting tired and without using fuel
Inventing the Hydrobee
The idea for Hydrobee came naturally. The co-founders of Hydrobee SPC, Burt and Dane, first worked together at Hydrovolts, a company Burt founded in 2007 to make hydrokinetic turbines for big water systems like irrigation canals. Burt hired Dane as the industrial designer. After Burt grew the company to 11 people Hydrovolts was sold to one of its investors early in 2013.
Burt had learned that some makers of hands-free faucets and toilets are using tiny turbines in water pipes to power the remote sensors. And he saw that USB is becoming the global power standard for phones and billions of gadgets. Then he had a big idea: tiny turbines for USB power! Reverse the whole concept of hydropower: Don't try to make the the most power from single sites - make the minimum power from the most sites for the most people. USB, not big dams!
Burt rebuilt a small turbine from a water flow-meter and confirmed that it made over 18V from his home water faucet, enough to charge several phones at once. So he and Dane asked themselves, how to capture that power and make it useful and affordable?
Our design advantage: Few inventors are lucky enough to work with an industrial designer like Dane Roth. Before joining Burt, Dane previously was the lead designer of the Clarisonic skin brush, and was on the design team of the famous Sonicare electric toothbrush. Dane uses Autodesk design software provided by their Clean Tech Partners Program. Burt conceived of the can shape, and Dane figured out how to pack a hydropower turbine inside it.
Soda-sized for a reason!
The Hydrobee Turbine Battery is exactly the size and shape of a 12-ounce soda can. Why? Because cans of soda and beer are distributed almost everywhere! One of the biggest challenges in selling products to people in remote regions is simply getting the "last 500 feet" to them. But soda and beer vendors reach everyone, even in remote villages. We will partner with the global beverage industry to distribute our Hydrobee to places that would otherwise be difficult to reach. We are thinking how to use that system to recover the Hydrobees once their internal batteries have finally been recharged to the end of their live (about 500 times).
To keep costs down the Turbine Battery is made to utilize two mirrored halves (one mold for two parts) and to use items already tested and made at scale whenever possible.
We’re dedicated to ethical manufacturing.
We hope to make millions of Hydrobees, and we realize that will have a significant environmental impact. We are partnering with Infinitum Humanitarian Systems / Innovatio, an organization that specializes in the fast development of humanitarian technologies, and promotes socially responsible manufacturing with their Mexican partners. They are helping us design for environmental protection, minimize manufacturing risk and ensure worker safety. We are visiting the factories to meet the local factory operators and see their operations, and following published guidelines like the UN Global Compact for responsible manufacturing.
Not only will our manufacturing centers be located in Northern Mexico, but Mexico is also an important market for Hydrobee. Over 5 million people in 74,000 villages live without electric power. Many of these villages are located in Southern Mexico, in mountainous areas that receive a great deal of rain flowing fast downhill, ideal for Hydrobee.
We have strong roots in the socially responsible business community.
Hydrobee SPC is a registered Social Purpose Corporation in Washington State. Our commitment to humanitarian technology is right in our corporate DNA. We are based at ImpactHub Seattle, a co-working space for "impact" companies and organizations. As members of the Fledge accelerator program located there, we’re mentored on the best way to operate as a “conscious company,” dedicated to supporting the greater good. Membership in Fledge is competitive: This round, 96 companies from 26 countries applied. Hydrobee and 8 others were accepted and our mentors are amazing. We are a lot more than just a start-up now!
How We Will Use Your Donation
With support and ideas from our Kickstarter backers we will quickly complete the prototype engineering. The main focus is the power-train from hydropower to propeller to generator to the recharged batteries. Then we will field-test the prototype. With 3D printing we can quickly make and test new propellers, rotors and body casings. We won't spend your donation on computer modelling: We are going to make stuff and test it fast. We are Makers! Donations will pay for the first production run and delivery to you, our Kickstarter backers, and for design revisions based on your feedback. That will guide our final design for full commercial production.
Your support will enable us to finish the prototyping and testing process, and get Hydrobee on the market by Spring 2014. Your support gives us even more leverage: If you make a donation for a reward of an actual Hydrobee (yes you can get one!), that will help convince potential investors that there is real demand and will give us leverage if we have to raise money in the future.
Tech Specs (subject to change)
Hydrobee Turbine Battery:
- Size: Same as a USA standard 12-oz soda or beer can: 4.8 inches / 12.1 cm tall and 2.5 inch / 6.6 cm in diameter.
- Weight: 13 oz / 368 grams
- Charging time: 2 – 4 hours depending on water flow rate and pressure.
- Internal Batteries: 6 x 1.2V “AA” NiMH rechargeable batteries of 2500 mAh capacity = total 15,000 mAh. Cycle life (claimed by manufacturer): 500 recharges.
- Port: USB 2.0 @ 5V and 1A electrical output
Hydrobee Stream Body:
- Size: 15 inches long, 11.5 inches wide, 8 inches wide.
- Weight: 18 oz
The Hydrobee for Teachers and Makers
For More Information
Risks and challenges
To minimize manufacturing risk we have contracted with Infinitum Humanitarian Systems to identify our prototype, manufacturing and distribution partners in Northern Mexico, where thousands of companies produce electronics, power tools, and many other products for the US and global markets. Our HydroBee power pack is similar but much less complex than the power drills they currently make. We have already visited factories to interview them and are confident we can meet our goals with them.
A risk is that people will not use the HydroBee products properly. We will provide comic-book style instructions that use pictures, and short videos suitable for mobile phones, to show where and how to use HydroBee.
A battery charged by water must have effective water-proof circuits. We are assisted by marine engineers from the University of Washington School of Oceanography who make deep-sea robots, miniature submarines and other underwater electronics. They help us ensure that the electric system in the battery is completely waterproof and cannot discharge at any unsafe level.
Maybe the biggest risk is that you have a great idea for us but you don't tell us! Please support our campaign, thank you!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The money will go towards setting the molds for manufacturing and field texting and making necessary adjustments before delivery of the final product in the spring of 2014. If we raise more than our goal we will have the funding to start on attachments to generate power from bikes and the wind.
There are many ways to generate power with the Turbine Battery, just need to make sure that whatever you are attaching to it will be able to offer consistent rotation for a set period of time, adding up to 2-3 hours for a full can of juice. If you have a good idea, we'd love to hear it!
Our original design was something that would utilize a house’s water pressure to generate electricity, but there was too much red tape, regulation and cost for a start up to afford to bring this to market. Eventually, we would love to take our technology and apply it to home use and irrigation.
If attached to a faucet or hose as long as it’s kept clean the water will still be potable. You can leave it attached and generate electricity as you go about your daily business, to capture the potential energy you’ve been letting go down the drain. Pun intended.
We’ve worked with experienced industrial designers and marine engineers at the University of Washington to create a robust product that will keep the Turbine Battery afloat and charging and the propeller free of natural debris. This design will be fine-tuned in both material choice and engineering before delivery.
Yes! The USB port will be waterproof and covered by a rubber seal.
- (22 days)