Rainwater for Humanity

Rainwater for Humanity harvests rain to provide clean water, boost community health, and empower women in Kuttanad, India. With creative engineering, we construct sustainable, eco-friendly rainwater storage reservoirs that provide households without pipe water connection a constant, reliable, and accessible source of clean water. We also train local women in managing the reservoirs, improving their economy by providing them alternative ways to earn vital income. Our ultimate vision is to
Feb 4, 2013

January Update

Sylas and Dr. John accepting the Obama Singh award
Sylas and Dr. John accepting the Obama Singh award

The last round of construction is officially over leaving 14 tanks on the ground now collecting water! And as a continuation of the successful engineering research done over the summer of 2012, we have started the prototyping process in India. By using a systematic test of metrics, our team in India is currently in the process of determining whether our new construction materials will be suitable for a new tank model. 

 

The team at Brown has been working hard to prepare its internal structure for a scalable future. We have overhauled and revamped our website (www.rainwaterforhumanity.org ), and will now be posting weekly blog updates on our day to day work. The ultimate goal of the work done at Brown is to succeed in bringing Rainwater for Humanity into non-profit status under a fiscally sustainable business model. At this stage we would be able to sustain permanent positions in India, and expand our impact to other villages.


One of our major successes in the attempt to expand our network, was a request to present our work at the Unite for Sight conference in Yale in April. We are so excited for the opportunity to present our team and get our name out!

 

Our India team also has exciting news: Mahatma Gandhi University was a winner in the Obama-Singh initiative (Obama-Singh Initiative). They were awarded $80,000 to facilitate international student research exchange. We plan on using the additional financial support to integrate our Brown and Indian teams through more frequent student trips.

MGU Obama-Singh acceptance ceremony
MGU Obama-Singh acceptance ceremony

Links:

Nov 5, 2012

November Update

Solid Works stress analysis on prototype design
Solid Works stress analysis on prototype design

 

One of our student members conducted research with Brown University about the viability of alternative tank construction materials over the summer. The results were great news for R4H -- incorporating coconut fiber into the cement mixture used in our rainwater harvesting tanks has been shown to be just as strong as the traditional mixture, but with a 40% projected material cost savings! Additionally, the coconut fiber is sourced locally, and as a result is more environmentally friendly than other possible materials.

This cost savings is crucial in expanding Rainwater for Humanity under an economically sustainable model. We are excited to be in the prototyping process; currently construction is moving forward on our first coconut fiber cement mixture tank!

In an attempt to match soil conditions and familiarize Thankachen, the local mason, with the new coconut fiber cement mixture, Rainwater for Humanity will construct the prototype tank on site in Achinakom. We are pleased to have hired Ms. Arathi Babu, a local engineer, to aid with the prototyping process and to assess and document the progress of the prototype tank.  Construction of the tank will be monitored closely to document any cracking, dilation, or larger structural issues. Furthermore, water quality tests will be conducted through the rainy seasons, to monitor any possible leaching effects. 

With this prototyping process underway in India, the Brown University team has begun formulating a business plan that leverages the new cost-effective coconut fiber cement mixture in our tank design to scale Rainwater for Humanity’s reach in Kuttanad.  
Solid Works stress analysis on prototype design
Solid Works stress analysis on prototype design
Aug 3, 2012

August update- Cost reduction with coconut fiber

Well water unsuitable for construction purpose
Well water unsuitable for construction purpose

Rainwater for Humanity addresses the scarcity of potable water in the Indian state of Kerala. Our approach is to build concrete tanks that collect and store rainwater from the monsoon season for use throughout the year. However, high material costs in Kerala severely limit the affordability of these tanks. This summer, our team member at Brown University, Samuel Lee is undertaking a research on ‘Coconut Fiber Reinforced Concrete’ to address this. The project goal is to reduce the cost of constructing rainwater harvesting tanks by evaluating mechanical properties of alternative building materials. These alternative materials are locally available and may significantly reduce cost.

 

Although the research is still in progress, we are excited to share several encouraging results. The strength and density of coconut-fiber-reinforced concrete is high enough to warrant serious consideration as a construction material. Other feasible substitutes such as fly ash are also identified. The upcoming round of tests will further examine the material strength gained with curing over time and their alkalinity. Based on these results, we will either prototype a new design incorporating coconut fiber concrete mixture in Kerala, or conduct test on mixtures to address issues encountered.

 

Thank you for your generous support so far! If you have resources related to our research, do let us know. We’d also like to express our gratitude to Professor Bull and Brown Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award that has made this research possible. Do keep an eye out for our next report on the run-up to tank construction.

 

Rainwater for Humanity team

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