Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Solsource 3-In-1: Providing Clean Energy to the Poorest 2.5 Billion at a Price They Can Afford

EPA Grant Number: SU834746
Title: Solsource 3-In-1: Providing Clean Energy to the Poorest 2.5 Billion at a Price They Can Afford
Investigators: Powers, Catlin Ishihara , Amatya, Reja , Frank, Scot G. , Jia, Huaze , Kulper, Sloan , Qian, Amy , Zhang, Wendi Xiaowen
Institution: Harvard University , Massachusetts Institute of Technology , Qinghai Normal University , Tsinghua University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2012
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2010) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemistry , P3 Awards , Sustainability



Our objective is to provide clean cooking, heating, and electricity to the world’s poorest 2.5 billion people at a price they can afford. During Phase 2 of the EPA P3 grant award, we are scaling up production of a novel solar device we developed to meet this need, the SolSource 3-in-1.


During phase 1 we focused on working with rural communities in the Himalayas to iteratively design a low-cost, portable solar energy platform for cooking, heating, and electricity generation that both achieves high mechanical performance and satisfies key human factors.

During Phase 2, we will first evaluate the real impacts of this intervention on health, the environment, local educational and economic opportunity, and gender equality in rural nomadic and agricultural communities in Qinghai and Gansu Provinces, China. Once we have incorporated information from this assessment into the design of the device, we will unleash the local social entrepreneurs we have been working with to produce this device on a large scale. We have already developed an award winning business plan to inform the launch and scaling of this product.

Expected Results:

We expect this project to have the following impacts on people, prosperity, and the planet:

People: Decreased indoor air pollution exposures, decreased pathogen transmission, decreased injuries and miscarriages during fuel collection along mountain slopes, increased gender equality, decreased rape.

Prosperity: Decreased expenses in purchasing chemical fertilizers, increased opportunities for women to attend school and earn cash income, increased opportunities for local income generation through manufacture and sale of the SolSource 3-in-1.

Planet: Decreased greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions, increased the use of natural fertilizers in place of chemical fertilizers, decreased deforestation.

Supplemental Keywords:

energy distribution, alternative energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, solar heating, energy database, holistic design, environmental health, pollution prevention, international technology,

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract
Phase 1 Final Report