Here are some of the cool projects that UBC Sustaingineering is currently working on. Stay tuned for updates!
3G REMOTE Monitoring project
UBC Sustaingineering is working in partnership with ENICALSA (Renewable solutions company in Nicaragua) to design and develop a 3G-network monitoring system for solar water pumps. There are currently 30 solar pumps systems installed in Nicaragua's countryside whose functionality is currently being monitored by ENICALSA's team in-person.
The team is developing a remote monitoring platform that senses various operating parameters of the solar panels and water pumps such as the temperature, voltage/current, water pressure, and transmits this data through GSM/3G to a central base for its monitoring. Additionally, the software sub-team is developing a web application for data capturing and visualization.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) is the technique of electrically controlling the solar panel's output using sensors and control algorithms to ensure maximum power is obtained from the solar cells.
The Sustaingineering MPPT team is working to implement a MPPT controller at a small scale. Our primary goal is to keep costs at a minimum while designing a controller and algorithm that will be appropriate for smaller solar panels. Once the project is complete, we will be able to help out off grid communities maximize their solar resources for essential applications uses such as USB charging, LED lighting, refrigeration, etc.
SOLAR PUMP REPLICA AT THE UBC FARM
In order to test our 3G Remote Monitoring and MPPT projects before their deployment, it was necessary to conduct some field tests with them. For this reason, Sustaingineering UBC designed, developed and installed a replica of one the solar-powered pump system that is currently running in Nicaragua.
The mechanical sub-team designed the solar panels’ frame and structure taking into account the climatic challenges that it would have to withstand. Additionally, they developed a water recirculation tank for running the Grundfos water pump in the same way as it does in Nicaragua. This system is currently installed and running at the UBC Farm.
IMPACT ANALYSIS OF 3G MONITORING SYSTEM
As part of the 3G Remote Monitoring project, Sustaingineering’s Impact Analysis sub-team conducted an impact research project, taking into account environmental, social, and economic sustainability metrics to determine if the pump monitor will enhance the sustainability of Nicaraguan agriculture. As part of this analysis, qualitative and quantitative data were collected in 2016/2017 by on-farm interviews with 30 farmers who received solar pump irrigation systems.
After the completion of their research project, some of the Impact Analysis team members presented their results at the Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference (MURC) at UBC. You will find their research poster below.
SUSTAINGINEERING EDUCATION PROJECT
The education team aims to create STEM-based learning modules for students, adapting to a range of ages and abilities. These learning modules, we call "thoughtbox", are centered around one overarching theme, and tries to embed curiosity, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration within the students through project-based education. We aim to do all of this through providing basic lesson plans, detailed instructions and all the tools a class would need to complete these thought-provoking projects while delivering it through a neat, little box.
The education team aims to deliver interesting approaches to subjects often thought to be tedious. The sustainability module thoughtbox bases all of its projects off of everyday objects, which can be recycled and repurposed. Some examples of these projects are building a small wind turbine from recycled material, a hydraulic arm and a small solar car.
Himalayan Makers Guild (HMG) - Education Project
UBC Sustaingineering is proud to support the Himalayan Makers Guild (HMG) as the first branch of Sustaingineering Education. Sustaingineering Education extends our mandate beyond university education to create self-sustaining programs in grade schools in developing regions. In this way, we not only provide technological solutions but support the empowerment of the next generation to innovate in their own communities.
Started by Harry Pigot, a UBC alumnus, HMG takes a hands-on approach to teaching programming and electronics to grade 4-10 students (aged ~9-16) in Kathmandu, Nepal. The club emphasizes student leadership to foster a knowledge base that is sustainable within the club membership. To date, over 100 students have benefited from the program, with 60 students are currently enrolled at various stages of progression. Harry has recently transferred leadership of the club to a local graduate of the program, who will then train and pass off leadership to another graduate, creating a continuous self-sustaining education program. Students advance through three pre-defined courses, each lasting 6 months, before ultimately moving on to open-studies projects where they can apply their new skills to a project of their choosing. To read more about the formation of the club, see Harry's website, or follow the latest news from the students on the HMG Facebook page.