EnergySmart School Inventors

EnergySmart School Inventors

Miniature Hydroelectric Power Plant

San Francisco Chronicle

Fremont Fifth-Grader Charges to Energy Prize

Meredith May

Friday, December 22, 2000

State energy officials who are trying to figure out how to keep the Christmas lights burning should just ask Fremont fifth-grader Michael Torrey for advice.

Michael's energy-saving invention, which uses water power to charge batteries for household use, earned him national recognition from the federal Department of Energy. Michael, a pupil at Forest Park Elementary School in Fremont, entered his winning invention in the national EnergySmart Schools Inventors Contest.

He won, along with three kids, one each from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.

Michael will build his awardwinning invention for top government scientists and industry engineers at the EnergySmart Schools Inventors Summit at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in mid-January. In February, he will be flown to New York City to exhibit his invention and will receive a $250 savings bond and an assortment of prizes from the Department of Energy.

He calls his invention a "Miniature Hydroelectric Power Plant." He put mini- hydrogenerators inside water pipes. As water passes through the pipes to drains and faucets, it charges the generators, which in turn charge the batteries.

"Everybody uses water," Michael said. "I figured, why not use water power to charge batteries that can be used around the house, so we can save other types of energy?"