Development of An Economic Grain Storage System for Rain Season Harvest in Rural Africa

EPA Grant Number: SU839287
Title: Development of An Economic Grain Storage System for Rain Season Harvest in Rural Africa
Investigators: Wu, Wenzhuo
Current Investigators: Wu, Wenzhuo , Cheoh, Jia Lin , Laster, Jacob Matthew , Koh, Jonathan , Wang, Ruoxing , Duhan, Shivam , Wang, Shutao , Zhong, Wentao
Institution: Purdue University
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: February 1, 2018 through January 31, 2019
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2017) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals


The students will practice the principle Design for Sustainability by relating the design with all three pillars of sustainability (People, Prosperity, and Planet). We will also promote the sustainability practices by demonstrating this project to both the international and domestic communities. This work will be a substantial contribution to benefit the rural communities in a developing country. This study will also serve as a benchmark and eventually foster long-term collaboration on preventing and reducing food waste between Purdue University and local organizations in developing countries. In our search for sustainable food storage to final deposition, the results of this project will greatly assist decision-makers in both developed and developing countries in considering new local resources for mitigating the global food insecurity.


Our team proposes to design a self-powered system, by adopting a novel triboelectric-solarthermal concept, for healthy storage of the harvested grains during the annual rain season in rural Africa regions. In Phase I, we will pursue three objectives: (1) conduct a comprehensive survey of the rainfall and sunlight resources during the rain season in a rainforest village of Central Africa, as a basis for developing the prototype for similar regions; (2) design a grain storage module that can be operated by the proposed triboelectric-solar-thermal mechanism; and (3) build a prototype unit and characterize its performance under the simulated conditions.


Our interdisciplinary student team will finish the design, build the prototype, and conduct the performance test, by applying the engineering skills they learned in class to solve this real world problem.

Expected Results:

The expected outcome of Phase I of this project is a prototype assessment of the proposed grain storage system. We will deliver: (a) a comprehensive analysis of the triboelectric-solarthermal resource in rural Africa communities, represented by a village of Western Bakossi, Cameroon, over a typical rain season; (b) feasibility design of a low-cost, nanoengineered, grain storage system; (c) a detailed technical design of the prototype model with sustainable manufacturing procedures identified; and (d) performance test results from the prototype unit at Purdue under a series of simulated conditions identical to the ones in local African community during the rain season. Continuation is planned to implement Phase II by first shipping two prototype units to Africa for pilot tests and continuing the partnership with our local collaborators in Africa.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Triboelectricity, Solar-thermal Drying, Grain Storage, Design for Sustainability

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report