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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 II projects of Spring 2013:

Kiwa Photo

Solar Fruit Drying in Ecuador

Partner: Inaproces-KIWA

Kiwa approached the UC Davis D-Lab expressing its interest in expanding the Kiwa brand and exploring solar technologies for dehydrated fruit chip production. Kiwa hopes to reduce the costly energy it consumes in its current frying process and increase the environmentally friendly image of its brand.  In the spring of 2013, our D-lab team developed a rooftop air preheating unit that utilizes solar energy to increase the temperature of the air entering a gas burning fruit dryer


Thailand Rubber Knife PhotoRubber Tapping Knife in Thailand

Partner: Kasetsart University, Thailand

The D-Lab's objective was to design and develop an improved rubber tapping knife that can deliver a thinner cut into a rubber tree bark that will maximize the rubber tree life cycles and in turn, reduce farmer payback periods and generate increased revenues. The potential impact includes a 3x increased life cycle, 1/3 farmer payback cycle, $1B national revenue increase.


Uganda Mobile Irrigation Photo

Mobile Irrigation System in Uganda 

Partner: Agriworks Uganda Ltd

The mission of Agriworks is to offer client services to small- and medium-scale rural farmers so that they can better implement extension recommendations and good agricultural practices. One of the first projects initiated by Agriworks was the development of a mobile irrigation service technology called AMIS (Agricultural Mobile Irrigation System). For the scope of this project D-Lab has been asked to construct a frame for the AMIS components that will reduce the amount of time currently spent on setup and breakdown time.


Zeolite Regeneration PhotoOff-Grid Zeolite Bead Regeneration in Thailand

Partner: UC Davis United States Agency for International Development’s Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program (USAID HortCRSP) office, Educational Concerns For Hunger Organization (ECHO) Asia, and Kasetsart University in Thailand

This study designed and prototyped offgrid technologies for recharging zeolite beads, a desiccant for horticultural seed saving, by two primary stakeholders in the Chiang Mai region of Northern Thailand: ECHO Asia’s seed bank in Mae Ai, and smallholder farmers in the Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai regions, the Palaung and Lahu hill tribes.



Previous D-Lab I projects of Winter 2013: 


Energy Hub in Uganda

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.


Electricity Feasibility Study in Ghana

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.


Solar Irrigation in Uganda

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.


Seed Saving Feasibility Study in Thailand 

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.


Solar Fruit Drying in Ecuador

Partner: Kiwa

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.


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