by Pako Ibáñez, Appropriate Technology department coordinator at Sunseed.
The activity during july has been exceptional at Sunseed. In the AT department we haven’t stop one day with all the projects and activities done by the fantastic volunteers who choose these dates to stay here and share experiences.
Inga and Rabbiya had their first contact with the photovoltaic panels production servicing all the 3 systems we have installed in the different houses of Sunseed. The dust was cleaned, the output voltages checked, the seals of the connection boxes, distilled water was added to the main house battery and all the connections were tested.
New wood frames with mosquitoes net for the Isabella’s dormitory were done, trying to make a little bit more difficult to them entry the room.
Michael y Rabbiya made an experiment based on Nicola Tesla’s research where its intended to capture some electricity from the magnetic fields that are covering us. The result was not enough to build a power plant, but the measures indicated than something is around there…
Supporting the sustainable living department, Heloise made mulberries marmalade using Kaña!!! 2, our biomass gasifier that employes dry cane of the valley as renovable fuel.
In Sunseed, we use compost toilets, where all our faeces are mixed with other organic matter and composted, producing the called “humanure” or manure coming from human faeces. This toilets are apart of the houses, in the gardens area. The night visit should be done with a lamp and a lot of attention, since the old light system is totally desintegrated. Clemens, Rabbiya, Inga and Cristabel designed a new system, composed by a PV panel, charger, battery and several light points in the strategical points: toilet, ladder, sink and access path.
The 5 light points of the path were designed by Clemens. On a mosaic tile, a stone pile was made with cement with a hole in the middle. Inside where installed bottom parts of beer bottles with a LED bulb and a reflector made with metallic part of tetrapack packages. All reused materials.
The free/busy indicator was redesigned too. Wood letters where carved and the on-off switch of the system was installed in a new pole. To wire the path, we opened a trench to bury the plastic pipe with the cables for the bulbs and switch, staying all rain proof and hidden in the edge of the gardens.
All Sunseed members were invited to the inauguration. We offered mojitos in the toilet and all the AT team we did a small performance. When the darkness came, after dinner, an inauguration ribbon was set up. Jyoti was in charge to switch on the lights, and following, all the AT department went through the path with solemnity under the Star Wars Imperial March musical notes. The ribbon was cut and we proceed to drink that delicious mojitos with ice and fresh mint.
This month we have done the most mass activity in the department. Alexis and Cyril were motivated to build a small biomass gasification camp stove, small size, to be used in our trips. Based on different designs found in the internet, a prototype was done: a 15 cm long and 5 cm diameter metallic cylinder was drilled with several rows of hole to allow the air move properly. A drink can makes the external cylinder role. Should be cut the lid and performed a row of holes too.
The prototype worked so well and Alexis, very enthusiastic, did a presentation for all the volunteers in Sunseed at this moment, and propose a workshop where everybody could build his own camp stove.
19 participants drilled a few hundreds holes, they cut and file the drink cans and made metallic mesh support to hold the pots for cooking. A good experience for those are not used to work with tools in a workshop.
With a lot of volunteers in the department this month, we set up a visit to the Plataforma Solar de Almería. Near Tabernas, is the biggest concentrated solar energy applications research center in Europe. We could see in person some experiments of researches going on, as well as the outdoors installations of companies developing their research programs there.
Another interesting project has been the construction by Cyril of a distiller system for essential oils and spirits. Applying our philosophy of reusing materials and employ simple techniques, a beer tank was converted to a boiler and several tubes and simple parts put together for the distillation column and condenser. The demonstration day, we took some tanks where apricot pulp was fermented and, using the Kaña!!! gasifiers, we rise the temperature of the boiler to 80 degrees. In a few minutes, we observed how the alcohols of the fermented pulp started to drip in the condenser exit. Soon we are going to do an extraction of essential oil of aromatic plants of our valley.
Following with the biomass gasification cookstove project, the novelty has been the birth of HELL 1.
We gave this name to this gas bottle (irony…) transformed together with some extra cylinders into a gasifier, because we thought are the same used in the hell .
Alexis designed and performed the new biomass gasification cookstove with oven that will be installed near Sunseed main house. He used 3 mm thick metal sheet and a few dozens of electrodes to weld the new creature. Has been tested baking cakes, pizzas and cinnamon rolls very successfully . Molly was the lucky person who got the 3 first cakes gasified in her birthday. Thanks to Antonia for her cooperation making the oven door handle in wood.
This month two of our amazing interns left Sunseed after share with us their enthusiasm and energy making possible a lot of projects and activities. Alexis, Cyril, has been a pleasure enjoy together these weeks with you.
Also we want to thank Rabbiya, Inga, Cristabel and Clemens this time shared and enjoyed.
You can see in the following links all the pictures with the department activities and some about Sunseed in general.