Appropriate Technology Projects

Ecological footprint calculation

Description: As an organisation committed to sustainable practices, Sunseed aims to reduce its Ecological footprint as much as possible. We only use electricity generated on-site by solar panels and a wind turbine, have our own ram pump which uses no external energy and grow part of our own organic food based on permaculture principles. We use fossil fuels directly only in forms of bottled gas for cooking and diesel for our van. The aim of this project is to carry out an assessment of our ecological footprint which will be used in the future to further reduce our environmental impact. Given its complexity, it can be divided into sub-projects.

Skills: This research project is suitable for someone looking for a theoretical subject as it doesn’t involve much practicals – ideally a university placement in Sustainable Development or similar.

Duration: The expected project duration is 4 to 24 weeks.

Biomass gasifiers

Description: Our valley has a variety of biomass sources that, properly treated, can be gasified and burned, making very clean energy for a variety of purposes. Gasification of biomass has positive effects on the environment. It reduces use of fossil fuels, It can utilize the removed excess parts of plants that are not easily composted, and it traps carbon in the resulting charcoal from the biomass, instead of emitting it to the atmosphere.

The project consists of identifying different sources of biomass available in the valley (cane, pruning wood, nut shells, etc.), determining its energy capacity and processing or handling (pellets, briquettes, ground, etc.) and investigate more optimal ways of using wood gas in the daily operations of the community: cooking, heating water, stoves, dryers, ovens, heaters for greenhouses, motor fuel, etc.. In parallel, design and implement performance-tests and data extraction for various models of specialized gasifiers. We currently have several prototypes for development and experiments.

Skills: This project would be ideal for a college student or intern in the field of renewable energy with basic mechanical skills.

Duration: The expected project duration is 4 to 16 weeks.

Efficient and aesthetic illumination

Description: We are looking forward to someone willing to make Pita lampshades and reflectors for the lights. Pita is the beautiful flower of the agave plant which is used for many different things in the valley including making djembes, didgeridoos and … lampshades! The Pita plant grows in the valley and fits well with our intention of using local and natural resources. Basic woodworking tools are available and the job is really rewarding (every evening).

Skills: This project would be ideal for someone with an interest in working with the incredible natural material Pita wood from the harvesting stage to the latest finishing touches. Good carpentry skills required.

Duration: The expected project duration is 4 to 12 weeks.

Energy monitoring

Description: In Sunseed we have 3 installations of photovoltaic panels, batteries and inverters, 2 installations of solar hot water panels, 1 installation of water heating trough stove thermal mass and 1 water pumping system using ram pump. We want to record the energy values ​​of each system, (sunshine, battery charge, voltage, power consumption, temperature, water flow …) and other meteorological values ​​(humidity, pressure, rainfall) and then to use this data in studies and projects.

The project consists of install a server based on Raspberry Pi to host a database and control sensors, progressive installation of the sensors, development of different ways to capture and store the data, development of data processing programmes and internet publication of the results. At a later stage, we will install a wireless system between the different buildings to link similar modules. The records will be sent to the central server in the main house to be processed and posted on the intranet and the Sunseed website for internal and external consultation.

Skills: This project would be ideal for someone with wide knowledge in electronics, programming of data controllers and sensors, and a basic knowledge of systems.

Duration: The expected project duration is 4 to 8 weeks.

Solar cooker refurbishment

Description: Sunseed has a variety of Solar cookers all of which require annual maintenance due to the harsh outside conditions (moisture, UV radiation). New paintjobs are needed along with renewing seals, reflectors, handles, etc.

Skills: This project would be ideal for someone with an interest in low-tech, low-cost solar cookers as sustainable alternatives to cooking with fossil fuels. Basic mechanical skills required.

Duration: The expected project duration is 4 to 6 weeks.

Hot water pipe insulation

Description: To prevent temperature loss in winter of the hot water on its way from the tank system to the different points of use, we want to improve the insulation of pipes. For this we want to investigate different materials and techniques to make it possible within the philosophy of reuse and low impact materials.

Skills: This project is suitable for anyone with elementary knowledge of plumbing and mechanical.

Duration: The expected project duration is 2 to 4 weeks.