So I had an idea for an emergency electricity generator that works like this: you fill a bucket up with snow, you pour it down a hatch and the snow spins some turbines which spin some generators to make electricity. Could this work in the polar regions of the world?
You are using muscular work of people to trigger extraction of potential energy from snow.
This is a poor working idea for several reasons:
- snow is low density, so you harvest few potential energy per unit volume (1 liter of liquid water weights 10 N, 1 liter of snow weights about 2 N)
- you are using more processes in series (shoveling the snow, have it drop down, convert the mechanical energy to electricity), multiplying their yields, thus lowering the overall yield
Just put the same people on bikes, connect the bikes to a shaft attached to a power generator and you have a better yield. It doesn't take too much effort for a person to generate about 100 W on a bike.
it'd work about as well as using a funnel (or bucket) to catch rain to run a mini hydroelectric plant. in other words, not very well at all.
wind is probably a much better source, during antarctic emergencies it's usually very windy. if there's no wind then a conventiopnal generator is the easiest to fuel and run.
people power uses very bulky fuel at very low efficiency.
maybe the movement of a glacier could be harnessed, but their speed is, well, glacial, so some really steep gear ratio would be needed.
No, the weight of the snow falling at the speed of gravity (optimistically) would produce less energy then what is used to lift the snow into the hatch. Your better off using electricity generating bikes.