Possibly one of the more unexpected products at Maker Faire Africa this year in Lagos is a urine powered generator, created by four girls. The girls are Duro-Aina Adebola (14), Akindele Abiola (14), Faleke Oluwatoyin (14) and Bello Eniola (15).
1 Liter of urine gives you 6 hours of electricity.
The system works like this:
- Urine is put into an electrolytic cell, which separates out the hydrogen.
- The hydrogen goes into a water filter for purification, which then gets pushed into the gas cylinder.
- The gas cylinder pushes hydrogen into a cylinder of liquid borax, which is used to remove the moisture from the hydrogen gas.
- This purified hydrogen gas is pushed into the generator.
Along the whole way there are one-way valves for security, but let’s be honest that this is something of an explosive device…
Sulaiman Famro is a cheerful, 65 year old engineer, and a master of branding. He built the prototype “Farmking” three years ago and claims he can save the country $1 billion a year, just in savings on starch importation.
The Farmking is a one-stop processing plant for cluster and farm-site processing of root crops and grains. It has a diesel powered engine that allows for remote processing, with power out connections for lighting so that it can work all night, if needed.
On one end you have 3 devices, for chipping, grating and milling. In the middle is the power plant, and in the rear is a large steel drum that can hold 50kgs of milled cassava, that uses a spin filter to process up to 2.5 tons of milled cassava into starch.
It’s used for processing of cassava, soya beans, maize, sweet potatoes, yam and many other roots and grains. One of the more interesting uses for it is the capture of starch. Apparently there is a huge amount of waste when the processing of cassava happens in the country right now, instead of being captured it is left to seep into the ground. An incredibly wasteful, manual process currently, Sulaiman is lobbying governors of different Nigerian states to get the Farmking into their areas.
Sulaiman went to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for his undergrad, then on to the Polytechnic Institute of NYU for his masters, finishing in 1976. The Farmking is a project of his that he built on his nights and weekends, claiming that he likes best to work by himself when no one else is around to bother him. It cost approximately 2.5m Naira ($16,000) to buy one, and the prototype (seen here) was built using his own money.
With the first prototype being built 3 years ago, the Farmking has yet to sell one to any other customers. Herein lies the problem for not just Sulaiman, but for many engineering-based founders of organizations. They can be incredibly good at building systems and tools, but aren’t interested, nor do they have the know-how to sell and market their product. It’d be good to see Sulaiman partner with a business person, or company, to streamline the sales and marketing side of the business so that he can make this invention work.
Design , Fabrication , Featured Makers , Inventor , MFA2010
Maker Faire Africa is dubbed a celebration of African ingenuity, innovation and invention. What is the nature of the celebration?
Many DIY-types — designers, inventors, hackers and tinkerers — in Africa work in isolation, so part of the celebration is about bringing them together to enhance, cross-pollinate and provide insights into the wider impact of their innovations on society. Taking the focus away from extractive ventures, we instead focus on those that are doing, making and producing. Globally there is a re-examination of manufacturing, production and design that is moving past the classical industrial sense and pointing to more distributed forms of production. Moving beyond mere celebration, there is also an interest in the interchange between these emerging global dynamics and local inspiration in Africa. This speaks to a far-reaching conversation in which the questions are posed: “How do we regain our creativity? How do we redefine what we mean by a society that is advanced?”
Africa , Design , Featured Makers , Ghana , Inventor , Resources for Makers
The lists of people looking for matches is now up on the site, HERE, Sorry to all that it took a little while. Please browse the lists, especially – but not only – those from Ghana and see if you ‘match’ with someone there.
Match a Maker is a great way of helping each other, you can offer someone advice on design or technologies for example and perhaps gain advice or help on funding or mentorship. There are so many ways to ‘match’
At the live event in Ghana, lots of matches were made, for example: a man working on biocarburant found a mentor to further develop his business model, an inventor needing AutoCad skills was linked with the FabLab in Ghana, a shea butter maker was linked with a fabricator for a new machine to do same, a local children’s community organisation was linked to FM radio sender makers and a Ugandan man was linked to a mentor for developing his bicycle driven medical care service.
Now we want to continue this momentum online. So see if you can help ‘match’ people to take inventing and making to the next step.
We are also working on a fully fledged platform to support the same types of matching but then globally. We envisage liking this to a ‘Whuffie‘ type approach to reward people who match others. You can help us design and build this full platform, if you have suggestion are are willing to volunteer time to get this platform up, running and connected please mail us
Thanks to the generosity of an MFA supporter, Kenyan inventor Dominic Wanjihia will be attending Maker Faire Africa. Dominic, who first came to the anonymous donor’s attention through an article published on AfriGadget in 2008, describes himself as, “an inventor of appropriate technology, environmentally friendly gadgets applicable to … the empowerment of rural people.” Among his inventions are:
- The Malaria Integrated Vector Management (IVM) Disc
- An evaporative cooler
- A solar food dryer
- A food smoker for meat and fish
- A shallow well – deep well water pump
- An eco-friendly pest exterminator, mainly for moles and termites
We’re looking forward to meeting Dominic in August and expect that he will benefit greatly from the opportunity to interact with other appropriate technology inventors like Amy Smith of the International Development Design Summit.