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Design of an Engine Generator for the Rural Poor: A Sustainable Systems Approach

EPA Grant Number: SU834327
Title: Design of an Engine Generator for the Rural Poor: A Sustainable Systems Approach
Investigators: Colledge, Thomas H.
Current Investigators: Colledge, Thomas H. , Boehmann, Andre , Chen, Lu , Dzwill, Alex , Gathenya, Mwangi , Hayek, Christopher , Hicks, Michael , Johnson, Ryan A. , Kuria, James , Lloyd, Wallis , Myers, Neil , Ndiva, Joseph , Otieno, Bernard , Pantalone, Steve
Institution: Pennsylvania State University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2009 through August 14, 2010
Project Amount: $9,990
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2009)
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Energy

Description:

Objective:

The primary objective of the proposal is to design and fabricate a low cost, innovative, sustainable engine-generator ‘system’ to provide electrical power to a village in Kenya, and creation of a sustainable business using the technology. The proposed model emphasizes the importance of context: adequate infrastructure, agricultural production, education and training, as well as entrepreneurial engagement for the rural poor – necessary to ensure the sustainability of the innovative technology being designed.

Approach:

Regarding the ‘system’ to be designed, the approach is to integrate the agricultural production of appropriate feedstock into the economic fabric of the community, followed by the design, testing and prototyping of a low-cost, locally manufactured engine-generator for sale in the region, as well as the use of the by-products of the biodiesel system (initiation of a soap making business). The sustainable, environmentally friendly ‘system’ developed and integrated into the community in a holistic sense is what is novel. The generator will be powered by a steam engine. Steam engines provide advantages such as: less pollution, quiet running, high torque at low speeds, no transmission requirements, will be able to run on a choice of fuels, has a long life with relatively low maintenance, and low cost.

Expected Results:

The anticipated results of the project are as follows: to design and fabricate a low cost, innovative, sustainable engine-generator ‘system’ to provide electrical power to households in Kenya, and creation of a business from the technology. Toward that end, a system approach is warranted. This includes:

  1. development of an appropriate biodiesel system to fuel the unit
  2. the production and handling of feedstock to power the biodiesel unit,
  3. fabrication of an innovative, low-cost, easily fabricated, durable, steam powered engine-generator,
  4. education and training of the workers to operate and maintain the systems,
  5. entrepreneurial training to develop and manage businesses including
    1. sale of the biodiesel fuel
    2. creation of a soapmaking business utlizing the glycerol by-product of the biodiesel system, and
    3. sale of the engine-generators themselves

Supplemental Keywords:

Steam engine, electrical power generation, agricultural power,

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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