Monday, August 1, 2011

Promise Home Orphanage: Part 2, Solar Hot Water Heater

In Part 1 of this post, I mentioned the motivation and desperate need for adequately funded facilities for orphans in Honduras. Promise Home, located in Toyos, Honduras, endeavors to be a financially self-sustaining orphanage that also provides both education and vocational training to their children, so that the young adults leaving their care are prepared to enter the Honduran culture, not the culture of North America.  To fund this monumental project, they have planted lots of fruit trees, a plantation of African Palms, and a fish farm to grow thousands of tilapia.  African palms may be the largest industry in Honduras, I'm not sure, but it's huge.  And lots of folks are growing tilapia too, so these two revenue streams for the orphanage will also serve as the vocational "classrooms". 

Why financially self-sustaining you ask?  Because there are lots of examples of orphanages that operate on donations that start off strong, but later the donor base erodes away and then they are underfunded and under utilized.  So at Promise Home, the idea is to generate a business using the transient donations, and use the ongoing revenues of that business to run the orphanage in the long term.  

One of our projects to support them is to design and build an inexpensive solar hot water heater. This post shows photos from our work. The tilapia grow better in warm water, so this could be a big help to them.  To date, we have 24 black "polyducto" tubes, each 150 feet long.  They lay on a bed of gravel and are irradiated by the intense sunshine as water is pumped through them.  We are able to heat a 600 gallon tank in a few hours and have a peak power level of over 10 kW.

[closeup of pipes on the ground]

[high tech pipe holder]

[Sarah pulling pipes]

[each roll is 200 ft long and costs 200 Lempiras, or $10]

[we bought 2,477,316 rocks, each individually wrapped]

[Sarah checking the level of things]

[view from Promise Home]

[Tim built a giant potato gun.  You can see the 600 gallon black storage tank on the left. This is where the circulated water is stored and gets hotter and hotter.  I call it the jacuzzi.]

[20 foot lengths of 3 inch PVC pipes, loaded in the nearby town and driven to the site Honduran style]

[day one of surveying, I loaded my photos in reverse order...duh]

[If you've read this far, you're either a techie or a blood relative and feel obligated to do so.  At any rate, here is the performance data. The circulating water coming out of the black tubes is the red curve, and the 600 gallon storage tank temperature is the blue curve.  You can see about 1:30 PM we had a rain storm and the device actually started cooling the water, instead of heating it!! We will have to build a regulating mechanism to keep our system from acting like this: a gigantic automobile radiator!]

So I realize now that I am at the end of this post and I don't have a picture of the final product. Blogging for Dummies would be very critical of me. Oh well. It's not like you're paying to read this.  Who am I kidding, it's not like you're even reading it!


JK said...


Kingdomseeking said...

I read it! Not a techie or bloodie.
Just left my heart in Honduras
I don't think I believe that every rock was individually wrapped. Was that just for dramatic effect?

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I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Fantastic job.
I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
Too cool!

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