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Waterpod™ and Lonny Grafman's Humboldt State University Engineering Class 215

Waterpod™ has been imagined as a realistic alternative to traditional living spaces. It is a floating sculptural structure that will travel the New York waterways in the summer of 2009 and act as a home for 6 visual artists. At its most basic it is a commercial barge that is currently being converted into a mobile art exhibition and living space that will showcase sustainable technology. Lonny Grafman of Appropedia, the sustainable wiki, and his Humboldt State University Engineering Class 215 have been working on innovative sustainable projects in order to make life aboard Waterpod™ what we dreamed. The New York Waterpod™ contingent has been acting as the green client and helping teach the class via a webcam in exchange for their priceless experiments. Initially we looked at our essential energy needs, survival and attainable comfort and translated that into a list of potential projects for the aspiring engineers. From that wish list they chose to tackle the following:


Human Powered Water Pumping for Pumping of Water Around
Limitations: Could be fresh or brackish water.
Rain Water Purification to Purify the Captured Water (2 teams)
Limitations: NY Watershed common pollutants, gravity fed systems
- The Pod People

Bike Electrical Power for Powering Extra Loads, Such as the Stage (2 teams)
Limitations: We would want to make a system that we could hook up to bicycles already here.
- Team Jack
- Team Lorax

Picohydro for Extracting Energy from the River
Limitations: The barge surface is 12’ from the water, it will be docked in different locations, and we may need to be able to move the picohydro to where the best water motion is in relation to the different parts of the barge. There is very little head available.
- PIE Through Design

Composting Toilets for Processing the Waste of the Occupants
Limitations: Must be able to take waste from six people on average per day. Humanure compost usually takes more than 6 months to process.
- Green Turds

Rocket Stove for Cooking Efficiently
Limitations: What will the fuel source be.
- Team Mel Brooks

Solar Cooking (More than a Solar Box, e.g. Parabolic System) for Supplemental Cooking Needs
Limitations: Solar access.

Groundless Food Systems
- Prestige Worldwide

Simple Hydroponic System for Growing Some of the Food Needed by the Occupants
Limitations: No power, we would like to use recycled materials, can we work this with solar/heat?
- Green Apple

Chicken Living Systems
- Team x 86


The first for Freshwater, the second for Brackish water. Freshwater will be collected from the rain, purified through sand, and used for shower and sink water. The greywater can then be run through plant filtration basins on the deck. Water can be used through purifiers (and solar cell heater) via gravity from collected rainwater.


Power Systems Overview

The power for Waterpod will be supplied by an off-grid network of renewable energy sources with no standard fossil fuel generators. The major components of the system will be:

  • A waterproof power locker mounted under the water tower that is lockable and meets the ventilation and watertightness requirements of a generator room. This container will be welded to the deck plates.
  • A primary protection panel including breakers and switches between the arrays.
  • Secondary panels with voltage rectifiers and inverters for feeding the generating sources to the battery arrays.
  • A solar array, flat-mounted on the shipping container.
  • One 1.5kw vertical axis wind generator, mounted on water tower onto the deck for safety and better exposure to the wind.
  • Two banks of power generating bicycles.
  • 3 battery lockers that are the emissions equivalent of less than 2kwh each, meeting the requirements of CFR 46, chapter 1, subpart 111.15-5b. The two wind power battery arrays will be charged and used one at a time, with load connected to a different array from the current draw system using a two waterproof switches.
  • An additional battery locker and an electronics locker will be mounted on the deck near the public area for converting power from the bank of bicycles in the public area to 120 VAC for running

Power will be supplied throughout by marine grade tinned 12 AWG conductors inside plastic clad metal shielded cable conduit, using a 2 wire system with an insulated return leg. The conduit will be run under the walkways for the public on the deck. Ends will be caulked for water tightness at every box penetration and at entry to the shipping container. Where coverage is not provided by the walkway the power cables will be covered with cable ramps fixed to the deck.

For power savings and safety reasons, most of the power needs (lighting, fans, and recharging power for electronics) will be supplied using 12 VDC. A second set of cables will supply 120 VAC to sound and projection equipment for the public area.

The power system of the barge will always remain completely isolated from shore power, and will not need a galvanic isolation system for interconnecting.

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