SUMMARY OF PICO HYDRO-TURBINE PROJECT FOR NEPAL: RURAL EMPOWERMENT Dec 2013
PROJECT BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE
The rural economics of Nepal and some other Asian and SE Asian countries lags far behind their urban life-styles. Most Nepalese villages, housing at least 12M people of the total population approaching 30M, are dependent on subsistence agriculture due to a near total absence of infrastructure development including roads and power. The Nepal Electric Authority cannot now, even during the monsoon, supply much more than half the power requirement of all city and towns residents. It is said that because of the preponderence of un-flued open fires in rural houses burning firewood (itself not a sustainable resource in most of Nepal) most Nepalese women and children suffer from respiratory disease, some seriously. And the gathering of this fuel for heating cooking and illumination (though in some places people make and burn spluttering resin-soaked torches for light in their hardly-ventilated houses) demands hours of the available daily time of women and children. Generally other fuels for house lighting such as kerosene are neither affordable nor available. House illumination by means other than electricity in rural areas is hazardous in terms of public health, safety and the environment. In that poor nation where it may never prove possible to extend the limited national grid to include most villages, illumination of houses by electric lighting, even by clusters of low-voltage white light emitting diodes (WLEDs) operating from a local power generator (hydro or solar), is a realistic approach. That is what this project seeks to provide, initially in a fairly small way, and in which it seeks to develop experience, expertise and authority.
PRESENT PROJECT LEADER J.K.Cannell [BE(Adel), MSc(Birm), PhD(Warwick), CEng, FAIEnergy, FIMechE, Dip.Th]
John Cannell worked at Kathmandu University, Nepal, for 10 years from 2001, as Professor of Mechanical Engineering as well as a CMS Australia missionary. There, working with several of his outstanding final-year B Mech Eng students and graduates, he introduced several new R&D projects in renewable energy, built research rigs and conducted field tests on 1) a secondary combustion wood stove to increase combustion effectiveness in houses, 2) an insulated solar-powered rural refrigerated coolstore for preserving fruit and 3) a pico axial-flow water turbine (800W) of high efficiency for village use. Since 2010, back in Tasmania, he and former Research Fellow P.Gautam have designed developed and test a low-cost/maintenance but efficient pico hydro-turbine of 1.4 to 1.6kW output for installations in remote villages where only open flume (headless) water is available.
THE PROJECT NOW
The ‘final’ design for this turbine specifies parameters thus: speed 1500rpm, flow 57.5 to 60l/s, head 2.9 to 3.0m, mechanical power output 1.5 to 1.6kW. Design has been partly based on data gathered from the earlier 800W design, which was tested thoroughly at KU, Nepal, in the pico test laboratory built for that job. Using digitised drawings the new machine is being tested using advanced FE and CFD software by Phil Durbin of Finite Elements in Grove, Tasmania. Certain water-flow problems and hindrances to full operational efficiency and versatility have already been overcome. A group of technically and commercially experienced persons is being formed to help guide and support the project and to apply for Govt. and other assistance. The first two or three prototype turbines are soon to be manufactured in Tasmania using a modern numerically-controlled machine tool facility (provided we can obtain some much-needed funding).
For village installations the team hopes to enlist the support of some of Cannell’s Nepalese graduates and others including Dr.Alex Zahnd, a colleague widely experienced in r.e. and village empowerment programmes.
THE PROJECT IN MATURITY
They hope to set up an organisation in Nepal (and eventually other places) with funding 1) to import turbines and generators and manufacture ancillary turbine-generator equipment locally (flumes, sinks, draft tubes etc), 2) to select, visit and assess villages desirous of house lighting, and a few daytime machines for village industries, solar or hydro-powered, 3) install suitable water flumes and turbine plant, distribution systems and house lighting, 4) undertake linked improvements & technical options in villages, 5) provide a plant and equipment base, teams to undertake part-time and full-time testing, supervision and maintenance of installed plant and help prepare appropriate new designs.
NEED OF FUNDS
The need of funds, principally by donation, is therefore obvious. That is exaccerbated by Cannell having already spent much of his savings on getting the previous turbine work and the new design and testing work where it now is.