Product and facility design for hydroelectric generations in Malawi
University of Wisconsin--Stout. Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
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Currently, over 50% of the population of Malawi, Africa lives in poverty and many have little or no access to reliable power systems (Malawi, 2015). Due to this, a group from the University of Wisconsin-Stout travelled to Malawi to conduct research on how a developing country may manufacture electric generators. The main question that needed to be answered was: how does one build an electric generator in a developing third world country? This overarching question can be broken up into 3 main parts: What tradeoffs, if any, need to be made when designing hydroelectric generators in Malawi? Is it possible to utilize available scrap to manufacture a consistent product? How can consistency be guaranteed? What changes need to be in place for a “safe” work environment to be created? Methods utilized in answering these questions included visiting sites of manufacture and generator placement, observing current safety protocol, measuring current generator output, taking inventory of scrap material, and searching for what material sources are available. The results of this research produced two new generator designs tailored to the region’s manufacturing capabilities. It is believed that creating micro-hydro generators in this region of Malawi will be possible if certain metal casting processes and safety procedures are put in place.