MFP and Jatropha Program

EPA Grant Number: SU834302
Title: MFP and Jatropha Program
Investigators: Modi, Vijay
Institution: Columbia University in the City of New York
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: II
Project Period: August 15, 2009 through August 14, 2011
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2009) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Expand MFP sites: Pilgrim’s farming cooperative network includes more than 40 sites across the Teso sub region. Phase 1 funding provided resources for installing two pilot sites in the Amuria and Katakwi districts. Phase 2 funds will be used to further the monitoring and evaluation of these two sites, while also providing resources to install and monitor three more MFP pilot sites in additional Teso districts. This combination of 5 pilot sites across multiple districts would provide significant momentum toward a national MFP program in Uganda. Cash-flow data from each site engine/equipment maintenance history could provide the basis for a model used to frame a national program. The intention is to establish a widely supported program via a combination of funding from the UNDP, Ugandan Government, The Gates Foundation, and/or other institutions, similar to the path that Mali and other west African countries have taken. CU EWB has already applied to other grants (NCIIA & Mondialogo for example) that will be leveraged during Phase 2.

Continue “COVII” Modification Kit Analysis: Performance of the modification kit has been favorable in all short term tests, but further investigation into its long term performance will help to refine the design into a more effective product. Small additions to the kit will enhance its ability to provide a sustainable mechanism for non-edible plant oil fueling of MFPs. Phase 2 of this project will include investigation into the engine performance (efficiency, emissions, etc.) as it relates to modified injector pressure and timing. These results will also be relevant to the wider plant oil combustion research community and will likely be submitted for publication in peer reviewed scientific journals.

Transition to local fabrication of engine modification kits: The design of the “COVII” engine modification kit intentionally used simple fabrication processes and basic materials readily available in Uganda. In collaboration with Makerere’s mechanical engineering department and local machining and fabrication shops (in Kampala and Teso), Phase 2 will include a transition toward local fabrication of the “COVII”. This will help to boost the sustainability of the kit’s use in MFPs and decrease the cost to farmers in the long term, while increasing income of machining/engine shops that take on the fabrication and selling of these devices.

Improve data collection techniques: A major impediment to MFP sustainability is the isolation experienced by remote farmers and cooperatives. These farmers are often tens or hundreds of kilometers from major market centers which results in days or weeks of operational down-time when unanticipated repairs are required. The recent development of mobile phone technologies, such as RapidSMS and Nokia’s Data Gathering technology suite, provide a valuable tool for immediate support in these cases. Phase 2 of this project will include the evaluation of RapidSMS and similar technologies within Pilgrim’s farming network – both for MFP operation data gathering and support, but also in the more conventional areas of public health.

Increase jatropha mobilization efforts: Throughout Uganda and the Teso region specifically, significant amounts of jatropha grow wild or as a part of living fences or even provide shade and living “stakes” for vanilla plants. There is still yet significant potential for farmers to further focus on jatropha cultivation and sell oil into biodiesel and soap markets. Four important institutional collaborations were formed during Phase 1 with EarthWise Ventures, EGOF Biofuels, and Makerere University, and the British Council AKTP. These organizations will help to design and implement a formal mobilization program by providing on-the-ground market demand, mobilization, and research (respectively) for sustainable jatropha cultivation.

Educational & regional workshops: In close coordination with our many partners, the culmination of Phase 2 learning will be presented in a regional MFP & jatropha Growers Workshop. Both local farmers & entrepreneurs, as well as potential investing companies, the UNDP, Ugandan government representatives, and others will participate in a workshop articulating best practices and lessons learned. Leading up to the regional workshop, the project will continue to carry out educational workshops utilizing PRA methods (participatory rural appraisal) as modeled by the Phase 1. A core goal of the workshop will be to gain further investment and buy-in toward a national MFP & jatropha program.

Expected Results:

We expect to successfully install and monitor 3 MFPs, to establish a local fabrication plan for the modification kits, to complete pilot testing of SMS based improved data collection techniques, and to increase jatropha mobilization in 20 farming cooperatives.

Supplemental Keywords:

energy, biofuel, sustainable development, jatropha, MFP, Uganda, conservation, appropriate technology,

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract
Phase 1 Final Report

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2010
  • Final

  • P3 Phase I:

    Multifunction Energy Platform (MFP) Pilot  | Final Report