Here's how to make your own whirlpool hydropower dam

Open the sluice gate, and watch your hydropower generator do its thing as the reservoir drains!
Christopher McFadden

If the video player is not working, you can watch the video from this alternative link.
Fancy making your own whirlpool hydropower dam? Then follow this simple guide to find out how. 

lake dam complete
Source: Construction General/YouTube

As you can imagine, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.

Materials and gear needed

With all your gear in hand, it is time to get on with this great little build.

Step 1: Break ground

The first step, once a suitable site has been chosen, is to begin the earthworks. Excavate a trench and widen part of it to make a large bowl-like shape. Stabilize the slopes and flatten the bed of the trench as needed. 

With that done, take a length of uPVC pipe and lay it on the bed of the trench. Mark out the dimensions of the pipe on the bed, and then excavate a trough to fit the pipe in. 

lake dam pipe trench
Source: Construction General/YouTube

With that done, widen part of the small trench, mix up some cement, and pour it into the bottom of the pipe trench. Next, take your old bricks and lay them into the widened part of the trench. 

With that done, cement the plastic pipe into place between the bricks too. 

lake dam pipe
Source: Construction General/YouTube

With that done, take another pipe length and cement this into the trench too, leaving a gap between the pipes across the brickwork. Next, build up the brick portion of the build with more bricks as needed. Also, add in a sluice gate as shown in the video.

With that done, cover the pipes with soil as needed. 

lake dam bury pipes
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Step 2: Build up the dam structure

Next, take some more bricks and build a small dam downstream from the exposed portion of the pipework to one side of the main sluice gate structure. Ensure the dam structure is the same height as the main trench. 

Castellate the top of the dam too using smaller pieces of brick. Between the bricks, add some lengths of tubular steel as shown below.  Once the brickwork is complete, skim the entire structure in cement as needed.

lake dam dam top
Source: Construction General/YouTube

With that done, build up the brickwork around the main sluice gate you created earlier to one side of the dam. If needed, cut a groove into the bricks to enable the sluice gate to slide up and down.

Step 3: Build the whirlpool

Next, remove the length of pipe poking out of the ground, and replace it with a plastic funnel. Surround the funnel with sand, and cement a ring of bricks around the funnel as shown. 

With that done, return the pipe and mark out a circle around the funnel. Next, take some metal poles, and drive them into the cement/soil around the circumference of the circle at an angle.

dam lake piles
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Add a ring of metal between the piles, and then build up a cone of bricks as needed. Fill the holes between bricks, and then add some small elbows of plastic piping. 

lake dam funnel
Source: Construction General/YouTube

With that done, add more rings of metal and continue building up the funnel with bricks. Next, cut a small length of plastic tubing, cut it in half, and flatten them into plastic plates. 

Bend one edge of them to make the blades for the whirlpool hydropower generator. With that done, prepare a rotor for the blades, and then affix the blades to it using screws. 

lake dam propeller
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Cut the blades at an angle and mount the impeller, and spray paint as needed. With that done, make a frame around the brick funnel and mount the impeller within the funnel. 

Add a mini dynamo to the main shaft of the impeller at the top too. 

lake dam impeller
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Connect up an AC/DC converter and mount this to the frame next to the dynamo as well. 

Step 4: Complete the build

With that done, the next step is to add some lights to the funnel and other structures, if desired. Connect them up to the power generator as needed.

Once complete, give the impeller a spin, and should see the lights glow. If not, check the wiring and fix it as needed. 

lake dam lights
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Next, install the sluice gate to the dam and connect up an actuator and frame to the top of the gate. This will allow the gate to be remotely lowered and raised on command. 

If desired, you can now add some decorative features to the dam, like fencing, etc. 

lake dam fence
Source: Construction General/YouTube

With that done, you can now flood the reservoir of the dam. Ensure the water level reaches above the main pipes of the funnel. This should flood the funnel too.

lake dam flood
Source: Construction General/YouTube

With that done, open your sluice gate, and watch your hydropower generator do its thing as the reservoir drains!

If you enjoyed this build, you might enjoy making another dam-related project

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