Semester Update

Hey all! Rachel, BLIP co-lead, here. Sorry for the long break on the blog.

Since our travel team’s return from India in June a lot has happened. Our team has grown quite a bit (check out our “Meet the Team” page to see some short bios about our members) and we have been making considerable progress on both of our projects.

Stoves:

The stoves team has been working on iterating its prototype and improving  the heat shielding. We have also been working on the addition of another cooking surface. Our design includes one chimney being shared by both burning chambers.  This last semester has mostly involved testing and refining our new two burner design.

We have received a lot of positive feedback from Dolatpura about how well our design has been working. We were also able to get pictures of a few of the stoves that are currently being used in the village. The picture on the left is our first prototype of a dual surface stove and the picture on the right is of our stove design being used in India.

Along with working on our stoves prototypes we have also been working to plan with the SETCO foundation to develop an expansion strategy to implement our design throughout Dolatpura and the surrounding villages.

Toilets:

The toilets team has been gearing up to start human waste compost testing here on campus. We’ve gotten approved by all the appropriate people to begin collecting human waste in 5 gallon buckets and seeing how the contents compost based off of different variables such as moisture content at collection, what organic “cover material” is added to the compost, and whether or not the material is being aerated (via mechanical mixing, etc).

After we have collected waste from our awesome volunteers in the Ann Arbor area, we will be continuously gathering data including temperature and moisture content while they compost. Thanks to the very helpful staff at Matthaei Botanical Gardens (MBG) we will be able to do the composting at temperatures very similar to those in Gujarat. We were lucky enough to be granted use of a greenhouse on their property to house our compost research.

We decided that we should bury our buckets of waste while they compost since the plan for our in-country system is to have in-ground collection tanks. Today (the first day with snow here in Ann Arbor!) we gathered members of the toilets sub-team as well as the other BLIP co-leader and headed to MBG. We created the structure that will hold the dirt and buckets of waste during our compost research. We’re calling it our sandbox.

It was a fun event that unfortunately ended with the six of us stranded on the side of the road due to the snow that accumulated over the course of the day. Since we had bagels with us from this morning’s travel share out meeting it wasn’t that bad of an experience. And thankfully, a friend of a roommate’s friend who’s roommates with one of the six in the car (talk about far removed…) was adventurous and kind enough to come retrieve all of us from Plymouth Road.

We apologize for keeping you all in the dark this last semester. We have been busy working hard but we have made a new-years resolution to update the blog regularly this semester to keep you all updated on our progress. Until Next time. – Rachel

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