Pico hydro generator is a project developed at MIT during the IDDS 2008. A team proposes the use of Pico Hydro power systems in Guatemala and Honduras to meet rural electricity demands, cleanly and efficiently. Specifically this team developed tools that can be used to easily convert a car alternator into an electric generator for a Pico Hydro system.
This system is expected to generate about half a kilowatt of power enough to power lights and radios, agricultural processing equipment, and/or charge batteries which will be useful to families currently living in isolated mountainous areas without access to the electrical grid. The system consists of an impulse turbine built from PVC piping and a Toyota pickup alternator converted into a generator (which runs at a more suitable rotational speed than the original alternator and doesn't require a current for start-up). The most expensive and difficult-to-build part of these systems is the electrical generator. The generator requires a laminated steel core to which strong magnets are attached. Cutting out laminates for the generator core by hand takes one person three days. This team developed three tools to cut out this laminate shape in a quick and repeatable manner. The tools are simple. After an investment of about 1-2 days to build these tools, they will save at least 2/3rds of the time necessary to build a generator core, cutting the fabrication down to less than one day.
Thanks to the use of appropriate technology in these four cases, it has been possible to provide products/services to people who normally do not have access to them (e.g. small drip irrigation system, electricity and so on). It also has a direct impact in the reduction of costs as well as increases in productivity which are strong evidence of business performance. These reductions in costs allow that the bottom of the pyramid be reached as beneficiaries.
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