June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Energy Conversion and Conservation
15.1161.1 - 15.1161.21
Systems Design of a Hydro-Kinetic Technology for Rural Areas of Developing Countries
Abstract This paper presents a case study of a global service-learning project leading towards the implementation of renewable energy technology for remote electricity generation. A student team designed, prototyped, and tested a hydro-kinetic device as part of a project ultimately intended to provide 100 continuous watts of electrical power from river currents in remote regions. The final design must be portable, cost-effective, exceptionally robust, and readily adaptable for needs in the rural developing world. Additional sponsor requirements disallow major civil works or obstruction of river traffic. The design team’s primary sponsor HCJB seeks the system in rural applications where small amounts of power are needed for radio broadcasting, various tools, and medical equipment. This project builds on previously reported work1,2 investigating water-wheel technology, but the focus here is on below-water hydro-kinetic technology due to sponsor request.
The team defined the project scope based on needs interviews and a visit from HCJB engineers. Based on these needs and specifications the team is adapting a commercially available generator with a velocity-boosting shroud specifically designed for slow river speeds, a robust and portable anchoring system, and a suitable electrical system. Extensive testing equipment and methods are being developed to refine and verify the design locally. This paper describes the needs and requirements, design process, industry/organizational partners, final design, and testing results. Consideration is given to the implementation of such projects within an academic structure including funding, identifying knowledgeable sponsoring “customer” organizations, and field implementation of the results. Conclusions are drawn regarding the impact of such projects on student learning and career aspirations.
1 Introduction and Background Many engineering schools are now employing a service-learning approach to globally-based humanitarian projects3,4,5. The importance of integrating both globalization and social needs into the engineering curriculum is acknowledged by the ABET criteria6, and human need is a clear priority of the engineering profession, as indicated in the NSPE creed*,7. However, the majority of North American engineering students are not familiar with the contexts in which vast needs exist, such as those among the physically disabled or the estimated 4 billion people living on less than $2 a day (PPP)8. These conditions represent a formidable “frontier design environment”, or environments outside the experience and expertise of most engineering students. Sufficiently understanding design needs is notoriously problematic in frontier environments where data and contextual experiences are not readily available.
From a global perspective, many remote areas have either unreliable electrical power or no power at all9. HCJB, an international humanitarian organization, recently requested a student team to design, prototype, and test a system to provide ~2.4kW-hr/day (before storage) of
* “As a Professional Engineer, I dedicate my professional knowledge and skill to the advancement and betterment of human welfare …”
Baumgartner, J., & Hewitt, T., & Licea, E., & Willis, N., & Green, M. (2010, June), Systems Design Of A 100 W Hydro Kinetic Technology For Remote Areas Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16151
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