Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Multifunction Energy Platform (MFP) Pilot

EPA Grant Number: SU833916
Title: Multifunction Energy Platform (MFP) Pilot
Investigators: Modi, Vijay
Institution: Columbia University , Earth Institute at Columbia University , Engineers Without Borders-USA , University of Texas at El Paso
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2008 through August 14, 2009
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability



Columbia University Engineers Without Borders (CU-EWB) is working with Pilgrim, an established, indigenous Ugandan NGO, to implement a pilot multifunction platform (MFP) in the established farming cooperative network that Pilgrim supports in Soroti, Uganda. Soroti has experienced incredible hardship over the last 20 years from occupation by rebel groups, constant cattle rustling, and flooding. All three hardships have left Soroti desperately poor. Hence, the MFPs are needed to provide an important mechanization for agricultural processing, electricity generation, and domestic or irrigation water supply systems which will improve income generation and reduce the amount of repetitive manual labor in critical populations such as women and children.


In close partnership with Pilgrim’s local staff, CU-EWB will carry out a detailed pre-instalation assessment followed by the actual instalation and monitoring/followup. Specifically, each MFP will be fueled on jatropha straight vegetable oil, widely available in the region, preheated to lower the viscosity to a suitable level for the diesel engine. The use of jatropha straight vegetable oil will save money because it can be obtained for a fraction of the cost of current diesel prices. Jatropha has gained much popularity recently as a biodiesel feedstock, but the body of research is still limited in regards to its engine performance properties and long term use as a mechanism for sustainable development.

Expected Results:

The first phase of the project seeks to install platforms and study their viability, through careful testing of their performance (engine wear, emissions, water quality, etc.), economics (infrastructure, operation, maintenance, agro-processing outputs), and appropriateness (cultural factors, sourcing availability, household survey) in order to develop a detailed scaling plan for phase 2.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

energy, biofuel, sustainable development, jatropha, MFP, Uganda, conservation, appropriate technology, water supply system,

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report