From Idea to Prototype - Melvin Nash's river turbine

Melvin Nash

Melvin Nash

Melvin Nash is an idea man who likes to solve problems. He’s been working on a water turbine for 8 years now and he finally has a working prototype thanks to some UNB engineers. 

The idea of a water turbine first came to Melvin when he was on the water canoeing. Melvin says, “I first came up with the idea of using different angles to help the blades adapt to water currents. I decided to use the paddle as if it were a turbine blade in the water.”

Melvin is a visual worker when it comes to putting together his prototypes. He does not make any notes or sketches; he just goes to it in hopes things will turn out right. Visualization was his best friend when it came to constructing his first turbine prototype out of wood. 

“I usually just jump right in and start building,” says Melvin. “I take the idea out of my head, because that’s what I used to do when I did siding on roofs. I used to look at the building and take it apart in my head and figure out what I needed and organized that way.”

Waterwheel CAD assembly

After a lot of discussion, UNB helped Melvin develop a prototype made of metal. Melvin was so excited to see his first fully functioning water turbine in action he said he felt like a kid at Christmas time. Melvin also plans to hire recent UNB engineer graduates to help build different sizes of turbines to do multiple types of testing. 

Melvin says, “It’s important to make sure that you’ve got something that works properly and test it to make sure of that. Show your results because these days people are very interested in the results of your products.”

Melvin has been inventing products for about 25 years. His past inventions have mostly been fiddlehead related due to his strong passion for them. Melvin’s inventions include a cleaning machine for fiddleheads, and a tool that allows one to stand rather than being bent over while picking the fiddleheads. He used to go fiddleheading with his mother when he was a child and claims that’s where his knowledge and love for fiddleheads came from. 

Melvin adds, “My mother always went to go pick fiddleheads when I was little, I went with her and others to harvest them, they showed me how to do it properly and quickly. That was the beginning of my knowledge of fiddleheads.”

Recently, Melvin was a graduate of JEDI’s business accelerator program. This program helped Melvin get to where he is today with his water turbine project and his business, WaterMoc One Power Corporation. “The JEDI program is very helpful. They helped me learn what I needed to operate a business and helped me find contacts that would be interested in the turbine business,” says Melvin. 

Melvin has also taken advantage of the JADF (JEDI Aboriginal Development Fund) and has received funding from Ulnooweg to attend workshops in Halifax to expand his entrepreneurial knowledge.

In recent months, Melvin has had talks with the city of Fredericton to test his prototypes at their waste water facility, but he believes it will be another 3 years until his turbine products are ready to be sold to the public. 

To see his prototype in action and to learn about WaterMoc One Power Corporation, watch this video: