Our objective is to implement a technical solution to a major challenge facing developing-world communities in Lesotho, southern Africa: they lack access to grid electricity and other energy options due to the mountainous terrain and the difficulty of transporting fuel. Our idea is a solar concentrator device that heats a working fluid for energy transfer to multiple, user-specified applications. Our innovation lies in the development of a novel heat to shaft power conversion system featuring a small scale closed-loop organic rankine cycle, using an ammonia/water mixture and automotive turbochargers as a cheap and available source of turbomachinery. Although this remote power generation technology could be deployed anywhere with sufficient sunlight, this project is specifically tailored to suit the needs of the Bethel Business and Community Development Center (BBCDC) in southern Africa. Located in the remote mountains of Lesotho, the BBCDC is a permaculture community and school that has pioneered solar concentrator technology using locally available materials and skills. They share our interest in creating an advanced concentrator design for the developing world context, both to further their educational mission and for wider dissemination to markets that they currently serve with their solar ovens, water heaters, and PV installations. In collaboration with BBCDC we designed and built the core system of a prototype comprising two single axis tracking parabolas.
Matthew Orosz, Civil and Environmental Engineering (Course 1)
Headley Jacobus, Mechanical Engineering (Course 2), 2005
Toni Ferreira, Mechanical Engineering (Course 2), 2005
Amy Mueller, Civil and Environmental Engineering (Course 1)
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