There have been some exciting developments over the past few months, since we entered the Rocket Stoves project in Global Giving on March 24th. A team of three University of Colorado graduate and undergraduate engineering students, including myself, spent a bulk of the summer in Rwanda working with the Rocket Stoves and a new irrigation project. Our local partners Manna Energy Ltd., namely Innocent Nsekeyukunze, have also been working tirelessly on the Rocket Stoves project. Here is some brief information of our progress.
• Testing: Our Engineers Without Borders team has been conducting the tests on the Rocket Stoves to determine the model which yields the highest energy efficiency. Also, it will determine exactly how much more efficient the stoves are than a traditional three stone fire. The sensitivity study includes various parameters such as: rocket chamber height, inclusion of a kick plate, and inclusion of a pot skirt.
• Transition of the stoves business: Manna Energy Ltd., our local partner, is a robust organization working in Rwanda primarily in medium scale water treatment. We are very excited about the transition of the stoves business from Engineers Without Border to Manna Energy. The driving force behind this decision is their much increased capacity to run a business in Rwanda over EWB. We hope it will bring the stoves business to fruition and distribute improved cooking solutions to thousands of Rwandans.
• Monitoring & Evaluation: We have visited some of the previous stove installations, primarily the 18 units at L’Esperance Orphanage in Mugonero. We have observed the cooking practices used in these stoves and also spoken with the cooks. This has enabled us to determine some of the weaknesses of the technology. Most weaknesses are from technology misuses that can lead to damage of the stove and decreased efficiency. Additionally, the misuses themselves can lead to decreased efficiency levels. The information gathered during monitoring will help improve the next iteration of the stove. This information also furthers our understanding of the compulsory education and training to compliment the stove.
• Irrigation: Engineers Without Borders has started an improved irrigation project at the L'Esperance Children's Aid Orphanage in Mugonero. This is the same orphanage in which we have implemented 18 Rocket Stoves and several rainwater catchment systems. In July we conducted an assessment for the irrigation system. The system will use gravity to distribute water from a central tank to two large vegetable fields below which cover nearly half a hectare. Growing vegetables in the dry season will allow the orphans access to healthy food and nutrients all year round. We plan on opening a new project on Global Giving soon for the irrigation system which will be installed in the summer of 2011.
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