Development of a microbial fuel cell for the provision of low cost lighting and smart irrigation in Uganda's rural areas
Suubi, Mujuni Godwin
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In Uganda today, the coverage of the electricity grid is still quite poor (about 21%, UETCL 2018) and so costly (610/= per kWh, UMEME). This implies that majority of Ugandans living in rural areas use kerosene lamps and candles for household lighting. The negative impacts of these light sources are elaborately documented, including: • The release of toxins during combustion, • Contribution to upper respiratory disease, • Safety concerns such as fire hazards and accidental ingestion. Furthermore, the actualizing of modern farming technologies such as commercial irrigation still remains a nightmare in Uganda due to the high cost of diesel pumps and alternative renewable energy technologies such as solar pumps. Distributed energy micro generation technologies can contribute significantly to providing energy access to the rural poor. These systems can have lower life cycle cost and provide a diversity of technologies to meet specific energy end‐use applications in developing communities more appropriately. During this project, we designed and implemented a microbial fuel cell that can power up a LED light and run a D.C pump to simulate irrigation. The fuel cell will be implemented using materials that can be easily obtained in Uganda’s rural areas with emphasis placed on the possibility of recycling household and community waste. The design of the cell will also be one that is easy to construct such that people without school knowledge can be trained and be able to build it easily. In the implementation of the project, we studied different parameters that include: • Types of feed such as soil and animal waste, • Electrode material, • Size of fuel cell and electrodes. From these studies, we were able to design a fuel cell that gave us optimum voltage and current. We then stacked several cells to light an LED lamp as well as run a DC motor.