Saturday, July 11, 2009

Danta Uno System Repairs

As you may recall, our team designed and built a functioning "pico hydro" system in the rural village of Danta Uno, Honduras, during the summer of 2008. It served 23 homes with a modest amount of electricity and was the basis of a small electric company to generate wages for several families. But this is a harsh environment.

Around October, 2008, lightning hit the village and damaged some of our electronics. We ordered some replacement parts, but before we could get them paid for and in the luggage of a friend on the way to Honduras, a large flood hit the river and tore out our canal system of PVC pipes. In retrospect, the pipes were not sufficiently secured, and the lightning protection was inadequate. But we are learning.

The lightning damage was repaired by Sergio, who can do anything and everything, but the flood damage could not be repaired until May 2009, when a new team returned. This post is a brief chronicle of the repairs to, and redesign of, our intake and canal system.

The above photo shows Matt, Ryan, and Blaine surveying the damage. Behind them you can see a low concrete wall that used to be used for drinking water collection, but has long since been out of commission. The concrete walls are about five feet tall, and the pool upstream of the dam is full of silt and rocks (where they stand). The hole in the dam near Ryan is where our 12 inch diameter PVC pipes used to take water to the generator. You can see the rusty generator box off to the left. This photo shows David cleaning out the rusty generator box, nicknamed the swirlificationator because one of its functions is to cause the water to swirl before encountering the blades of the hydro generator (the propeller).

This photo shows the upstream protection we installed to protect the dam and the generator from large debris (like trees and boulders) floating downstream in floods. In English, they are called gibbons, and in Spanish, "gabiones". They are wire cages a little bigger than a four-drawer filing cabinet, and filled with rocks. After they are full, we wired them closed. They make a very inexpensive, very heavy wall. They guys that worked on them the most (Matt, David, Brian, and Ryan) we nicknamed the Gabiones Brothers. Our estimate is that they moved and caged about 20,000 pounds of river rocks!

The intake system with the new PVC pipe was redesigned using about five times as much concrete as last time. One of the wooden forms, unfortunately, is still in place in this photo, so the intake of the pipe is mostly blocked from view.

This is a bird's eye view of the freshly painted swirlificationator. The generator sits in the hole in the middle. As the water goes down the hole, it turns the propeller and poof! electricity comes out.
On our last day in the village, our team posed on the newly constructed wooden walkway installed above the canal pipe. You can see the bubbles and turbulence at the base of the pipe as the water flows.

Water + Gravity + Electromagnetism = Usable Energy = Improved Lives = God's Love Tangibly Expressed

That's what we (try to) do.

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