EmPower Earth | Changing Lives With Solar

Building a Lorenz Water Wheel

By: David Mattern | 7 Votes For This Project

Lorenz Water WheelsA Lorenz water wheel demonstrates how small changes and complex interactions lead to unpredictable, chaotic behavior. This wheel uses funnels mounted on a bicycle wheel with water circulated by a solar fountain pump.

Used materials
  • Bicycle wheel and axel (local bicycle shop)
  • Bathtub spout (used building materials store)
  • Half wine barrel (garden supplies section of local hardware store)
  • Galvanized steel channel to support wheel (backyard junk pile)
New materials
  • 12 aluminum funnels (Ebay) the number needed will depend on the size of the bicycle wheel
  • 12 stainless steel washers (local hardware store). These are glued into the funnel spouts to restrict outflow
  • 6/32 threaded stainless steel rod for the funnels to pivot on (local hardware store) length required will depend on the number and size of the funnels
  • 6/32 stainless steel locking nuts (local hardware store)
  • Rubber grommets oversize to rotate easily on the threaded rod (local hardware store)
  • Stainless steel cable clamps with rubber bushing to mount pivot rods to bicycle wheel (local hardware store). The size will depend on the size of bicycle wheel rim
  • Aluminum stock for diagonal wheel support (local hardware store)
  • Plastic tubbing to connect pump to spout (local hardware store)
  • Assorted nuts, bolts, and washers (local hardware store)
  • Solar Water Fountain Medium Output Pump Kit (Silicon Solar)
Basic assembly steps
  1. Drill two holes in each funnel sized to hold rubber grommets snugly and insert grommets
  2. Glue washers in the spout of each funnel
  3. Cut threaded rod long enough to hold each funnel and clamp to bicycle wheel.
  4. Mount funnels evenly spaced around the wheel using cable clamps and locking nuts.
  5. Cut main wheel support long enough to attach to barrel and extend several inches above the bicycle wheel
  6. Attach main wheel support to wine barrel
  7. Bend aluminum stock to make diagonal support and drill to bolt to barrel and accept wheel axel
  8. Mount wheel between main support and diagonal support
  9. Attach spout to top of main support
  10. Place pump in barrel, connect tubbing from pump to spout
That’s about it – then all you need is sunlight to unleash chaos!!


The following video shows the basic design concept that can be easily adapted by any builder:

by David Mattern


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Silicon Solar
2917 St Hwy 7
Bainbridge, NY 13733

P: 1.800.786.0329

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