On June 27th our group of five; Dr. Louie, Vincent Van Acker, Karim Farraj , Josh Peavler and Ayesha Pirbhai (me) left for our immersion trip to Zambia. After 11,660 miles we arrived in Lusaka. Lusaka is the capital of Zambia and about three hours away from Chikuni, which is where we built and tested the wind turbine. From Seattle, we brought the stator, rotors, alternator assembly and some tools with us and it was our goal to build the blades, find/make a tower and to find the optimal location for the placement of the wind turbine.
We had roughly seven days in Chikuni, two of which were national holidays, so our schedule was very tight! Also our working schedule was based on the daylight hours, as the workshop available to us did not have proper lighting. Our first mission was to make the blades. We got lucky and found some wood that we could use right away and started chipping away. At the same time we took wind measurements at the three locations we thought would serve our purpose; an earthen dam, water tower and the radio tower. After a full day of wind speed measurements, we decided to place the wind turbine at the dam. Everyone did some work on the blades but Josh and Karim did majority of the blade work. I worked on the control box and the wiring, while Dr. Louie and Vincent assisted us with everything.
The blades were done within two days due to all the hard work and effort Josh and Karim put into it. The “tower” for the turbine was a 2.25” borehole pipe that was strapped to an existing wooden pole on the dam. We were very fortunate for everything to run smoothly and on the fifth and sixth day we tested the turbine! There was enough wind that the 12volt battery we attached began to charge.
This pilot program immersion trip was a great experience. One thing we all learned is that things do not go according to plan. Also the pace of business and lifestyle there is much slower than that of Seattle. We did make some modifications to our turbine; specifically the blades. The blades were originally supposed to be 5 feet long were altered to 4 feet due to availability of wood. The blades were shorter and thicker which hindered the performance of the turbine, but nevertheless our goals were achieved.