Senior design team brings electricity to Zambia

October 9, 2013

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Only 21 percent of the people in developing countries have access to electricity, but a group of SU students, faculty and staff is helping to change that. A senior design team from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering installed an electrical system for a community in Chirundu, Zambia, over the summer. Conceived by Bert Otten, S.J., emeritus professor of electrical and computer engineering, the system uses a waterwheel that costs less to build than the solar panel equivalent. It is easy to maintain and can be replicated in other communities. 

The installed system includes a generator, controls, protection, and a battery system. The battery system can be used for a variety of purposes, including charging cell phones, operating pumps and other electrical devices. The original waterwheel platform was developed for a spiral pump by an engineering senior design team in 2009. 

Advisers on the project included Henry Louie, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering; Steve Szablya, director of maintenance and operations; Jeff Wilhite, mechanical engineering laboratory manager; Byron Lynch, senior electrician; and DeLaunde Hopkins, plumber.