Tom (TJ) Decker, Ross Mazur, and Jessica Straub returned from an epic journey into the remote Peruvian village of Abra Malaga (~4000m above sea level) as part of the SUNY ESF ERE club dedicated to sustainable engineering designs. The club is dedicated to addressing environmental and humanitarian needs and constraints and uses their skills to plan, design, construct and demonstrate useful products, processes, and systems. A quick online search tells you they were in a picturesque and rugged landscape along the continental divide (hint – this place is a destination for high energy and skilled ecotourism outfits). The community is made up of approximately 32 families and at this moment has only had solar energy for electricity, where the solar panels are 45 watts and can only power one light bulb. With the pico-hydro generator system the team can provide up to 200 watts to the village, more than quadrupling the electricity output of a solar panel, and not damage the hydrology of the water source. The water is delivered by gravity, without pumps. The cost of one of the installed pico-hydro generators is actually lower than that of one 45 watt solar panel, including installation. Sit back and enjoy the photos – they tell quite a story!

Ross, TJ, and Jessica chatting with the school professor; the building is the schoolhouse for Abra Malaga.

Ross, TJ, and Jessica chatting with the school professor; the building is the schoolhouse for Abra Malaga.

TJ with materials for the pipeline to feed water into the generator which can be seen in the right bucket.  These solar panels are 45 watts and can only power one light bulb. With the pico hydro system we can prvoide up to 200 watts more than quadrupling the electricity output of a solar panel while the cost of one of these hydro generators is actually lower than that of one 45 watt solar panel install.

TJ with materials for the pipeline to feed water into the generator which can be seen in the right bucket.

 

Ross, TJ, and 3 Peruvian villagers carrying 100 m of tubing up the hill to the site where 3 homes were serviced by the generator. This was an intense climbing exercise at 4000 m altitude. Ross and TJ had to rest frequently to ease their burning lungs.

Ross, TJ, and 3 Peruvian villagers carrying 100 m of tubing up the hill to the site where 3 homes were serviced by the generator. This was an intense climbing exercise at 4000 m altitude. Ross and TJ had to rest frequently to ease their burning lungs.

Jessica, Ross, and TJ at their first Abra Malaga village meeting – being introduced to the community. The meeting started in the local dialect of Quechua, and then transitioned to Spanish for the students to present their project ideas.

Jessica, Ross, and TJ at their first Abra Malaga village meeting – being introduced to the community. The meeting started in the local dialect of Quechua, and then transitioned to Spanish for the students to present their project ideas.

Jessica, Ross, and TJ at their first Abra Malaga village meeting – being introduced to the community. The meeting started in the local dialect of Quechua, and then transitioned to Spanish for the students to present their project ideas.

Jessica, TJ, and Ross at their first Abra Malaga village meeting – being introduced to the community. The meeting started in the local dialect of Quechua, and then transitioned to Spanish for the students to present their project ideas.

 

A group photo after all parties (ESF students, the NGO, and the community) signed the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the project goals and obligations.

A group photo after all parties (ESF students, the NGO, and the community) signed the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the project goals and obligations.

Two pico-hydro generators that the students built in Abra Malaga, Peru. They currently have one site for electricity production and for the installation of one generator. If anything goes wrong with the generator between September and December 2013 the NGO will have a backup generator to install.

Two pico-hydro generators that the students built in Abra Malaga, Peru. They currently have one site for electricity production and for the installation of one generator. If anything goes wrong with the generator between September and December 2013 the NGO will have a backup generator to install.

 

TJ demonstrating how the gravity fed system will bring pressurized water through tubing into the generaters and turn the turbines and produce electricity.

TJ demonstrating how the gravity fed system will bring pressurized water through tubing into the generaters and turn the turbines and produce electricity.

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