Our most recent project, GreenWeb, aims to develop app-based solutions for people in Rwanda.
In Rwanda, majority of the people still wash their clothes by hand, which is a laborious, time consuming task taking up to 2-3 hours a day. In order to address this, the E.Wash project is working to develop an off-grid affordable and automatic washing machine for the rural community. The first phase of the project involved the manufacturing of the minimal viable product 1, which is a prototype washing machine made from wood and plastic and controlled with an Arduino. The team conducted field trials, focus groups and interviews in Rwanda and are currently developing their second and third prototype. The aim of the project is to improve health and sanitation and reduce time-poverty of the villagers.
An ongoing project where our team of students are researching on ways to end the widespread food insecurity in Rwanda. Initial project scope includes novel agricultural methods, low water farming and optimal fertiliser.
Currently, in the remote villages of Rwanda, majority of the people still use firewood to cook food. The kitchens are small and often have no ventilation, leading to respiratory issues from carbon monoxide poisoning and in some cases blindness from the smoke. Whilst LPG is available, it is expensive and most villagers are unable to afford it. Some parts of Africa are beginning to use Biogas. The e.quinox team evaluated the business sustainability of Biogas in Rwanda and provide a potential business model for implementation based on equipment sourced from Kenya. Their evaluation discusses the community infrastructure that will be required for collecting biogas sources and how local entrepreneurs will be able to house the biogas plant for distribution of biogas to neighbouring houses.
Remote Data Logging and Transmission
A team of undergraduate students developed a data logging and transmission system to assist monitoring and maintaining a launderette system remotely. The data logging system could monitor turbidity, pH, flow rates and ultrasonic sensors and temperatures. This type of technology is important for the communities in Rwanda where processes such as the filtering and recycling of water are required but, due to the large spread in population, hard to monitor without remote access.
Battery Box R&D
In order for rural communities to access electricity in parts where the grid is unavailable, energy storage is essential. For the kiosk projects, battery technology and development was one of the major developments in e.quinox with three generations of battery boxes being developed for a cheaper and ergonomic design. This project looked at producing the battery boxes sustainability, both in the use of material and local employment.
In summer 2012, the first hydroelectric kiosk was launched in south-western Rwanda. This project supplied electricity to a local community living near a stream, from which the energy was harnessed with the means of a generator. Harnessing hydro power into storage energy and supporting the distribution of this energy with battery power is still a novel and important solution for remote parts of Rwanda and Africa, where grid connections are as yet unavailable.
After the energy kiosk model was developed, several new concepts for rural electrification emerged. A standalone model that incorporated a mini solar panel, small scale inverter and a mini-battery was housed in one product and distributed to the communities with micro-financing schemes, such as monthly/weekly payments until the box could be owned by the villagers.