The need to encourage low-cost, clean technologies in developing countries is critical from both a public health and quality of life standpoint as well as from a global energy and environment perspective.The EIA predicts that by 2010, energy consumption and greenhouse gas production from non-OECD countries will surpass that of the OECD countries. Meanwhile, over 1 billion people in developing countries suffer from adverse health impacts from burning resource intense and environmentally unsustainable energy sources such as kerosene, dung, coal, and wood burning for lighting and cooking. The UC Davis Program for International Energy Technologies was thus established to address energy security, environmental degradation, and public health concerns in developing countries. We work in four key areas: Off-grid lighting and micro-power, agriculture (including pumping, irrigation and post harvest), renewable energy, and sustainability and energy efficiency.
D-Lab I projects of Winter 2013:
Partner: Access2Innovation & World Wildlife Fund, Uganda
In Uganda, less than 10% of the country’s household’s are connected to the national grid for electricity and instead mostly use kerosene, which has human health, environment, and high financial costs (CIRCODU). Access to high-quality, affordable light could improve standards of living by providing households with substantial savings, better nighttime light quality, reduced health risks, and environmental consequences. This report assesses the feasibility of different community-based energy hub models in Kasese District, Uganda.
Partner: Dr. Tometi Gbedema and the Otwetiri Project
The goal of this project is to develop a feasible plan for electricity in the community of Otwetiri in order to appropriately address the community’s energy needs, amounting to 7.78 kWh/day for increased educational opportunity and cell phone charging with the potential to scale up in the future. The scope of the project is dependent on the services desired and the willingness of the local community to pay for solar expenses. Current energy expenditures are $1.26 for cellphone charging per person/day, not inclusive of kerosene lighting, and $1.41 with kerosene lighting.
Partner: Michael Reid & Gloria Androa
The project outlined in this paper is to provide a pumping solution for the village of Ewavio, Uganda. Ewavio has a need to develop technologies that will increase the amount of water available to villagers (for farming and household use) and decrease the amount of time spent pumping the water during the dry season. This project designed a solar pump to replace the current manual pump and analyzed the economic and social feasibility of such an installation. The design was limited by the current flow rate out of the borehole: during the dry season, the borehole runs dry every day and must be locked in the middle of the day for three hours to recharge.
Partner: Educational Concerns For Hunger Organization (ECHO)
This report examines the use of zeolite beads for seed saving in Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand. It assesses the viability of using zeolite at a seed bank owned by the Educational Concerns For Hunger Organization (ECHO) that is preserving indigenous crop varieties in Mae Ai. This report also assesses whether zeolite is a viable technology for hill tribes in the region. The methodology of this study attempts to analyze zeolite technology use through the four lenses of sustainable development as defined by D‐Lab: technical, financial, social, and environmental. Subsequently, this study analyzed cost, technical efficiency, and environmental, health, and labor impacts of zeolite, silica, charcoal, oven drying, and sun drying.
The goal of this project is to find a viable solar drying system to produce dehydrated fruit (mango, banana, naranjilla and tomate dearbol) in the subtropical climate of Ecuador. We seek to expand production capacity at KIWA, lower energy input costs, and increase product life and quality. The establishment of improved technologies will be leveraged by simultaneously advancing relationships with small‐scale producers to create a more secure, sustainable future for the company and growers.
D-Lab II projects of Spring 2012:
Partner: Zamorano University, Honduras
Biochar is charcoal created by pyrolysis (burning with minimal oxygen) of biomass (e.g. agriculture and forest wastes) and is considered as an effective way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However during this production process, issues like pelletizing biomass needs to be resolved. For the D-Lab, we propose to work on the design of two critical aspects of the pelletizing process in the context of a third world country like Honduras: a) Chopping and grinding to uniform and reduce the size of the raw material. b) compaction/densification of the raw material (pelleting) to increase in the net calorific content per unit volume.
Partner: Zamorano University, Honduras
In villages without access to electricity, there are no affordable ways to cool agricultural produce during transport and storage. Providing a non-electric cooling system to those remote communities is one way to increase their income by reducing postharvest losses. The proposed cooling system will use water as the refrigerant and zeolite beads as the adsorbent. DLab students will work on designing an affordable construction model for the zeolite bead cooler and arrive at a business model that works in the developing world.
Partner: Niger Delta Wetlands Centre [NDWC]
A method for effectively recycling thin film plastics is to utilize a heat press, such as that used in making heat transfers onto t-shirts, to remold the plastics into sheets of thicker plastic. These can be joined together to make plastic sheeting with various applications, ranging from agriculture to temporary housing. However these hot presses consume large amount of energy which is not feasible for small production, as running the machine off of a generator is neither cost-effective or environmentally sound. Thus, it is proposed that an altered hot press be developed, preferably one that can run with little or no expensive energy input. The NDWC team will collaborate with the UC Davis design department to design products using this technology.
Partner: Kasetsart University, Thailand
There is no existing cool chain technology for farmers and small/medium enterprise in Thailand to transport their product to customers or wholesale market. A dedicated refrigerated truck would be expensive for this purpose. The project involves designing a low cost cool room\container (with temperature adjustable between 10 to 20 degree celcius) that can be mounted on the back of a 1 ton pickup truck. DLab team will design a low cost cool room\container for cooling agricultural produce (with temperature adjustable between 10 to 20 degree celcius) that can be mounted in the bed of a 1 ton pickup truck.
SMART Light distribution in Zambia
Partner: Disacare, Lusaka, Zambia
The SMART Light started as a World Bank-funded Lighting Africa project in 2009. UC Davis PIET designed and built a low-cost solar-powered LED light meant to compete with kerosene and candles in Zambia. The first production run of 1,500 lights was built in China at the end of 2011, and will be shipped to Davis in the next few weeks. For D-Lab II, the SMART Light team will be planning and creating distribution plan and business model for launching the product in Zambia. At the end of the summer, a student team will travel to Lusaka to set up and launch the business. DLab students will design a functional business model for distributing the lights, including operations, marketing, sales, accounting, training, and offer technical support. Visit the Lighting The Way site here.
Pico-hydro systems in Rwanda
Pico-hydroelectric power is projected be the cheapest power generation technology for remote communities and it is an appropriate intermediate technology that locals can understand and easily build, operate and maintain. In an effort to incorporate this technology into the UC Davis D-Lab curriculum and to identify appropriate (consider material availability, cost),pico-hydro systems for Rwanda, a D-Lab II team will review, construct, test, and improve existing pico-hydro solutions. DLab team will identify, design, build and compare different types of low cost hydro electric turbines specific for Rwanda’s community needs.