Pani Ghatta – Water Mills

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               Himalaya are boon and curse. These are the mountains that’s helps to tranquil our soul and assemble our hopes in solitude. The same mountains stand tall to hinder the progress to modern development and technology. The mighty rivers starts as rivulet in lap of these mountains. The kinetic energy of falling river among the slopes are used to harness power to grind grains to empower human body. The conservation of energy works perfectly fine satisfying scientific society of rich nation who want’s to keep nature pure and make big shout out for being agrarian while doing so.  

              These turning machine are popularly known as Pani Ghatta a.k.a water mills. The water mills are very popular across Himalayas, as it is only reliable machine to grind grain for people living across the regions. The water mills is not limited to Nepal but you can see across stretch of hills of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet, and Bhutan. Traditionally limited to grinding, now many are modified to generate electricity for local use.

Construction:

          The water is diverted from the main stream via open or closed duct towards the turbine placed on lower section of mill house. The turbine used to be made of wood, but majority of wooden turbines are replaced with metallic as improved water mills these days. The vertical shaft connected to turbine on the floor of mill house runs, and turns the upper section of stone. The lower section is stationary, and grains stored in wooden settings above the stone drops grains through hole in upper stone to lower stone via feeder mechanism, and then grains are grinded in between the stones.

Improved Water Mills (IMW)- New Name for Modern era

                         Improved water mills is one of the clean technologies promoted by government of Nepal with many other stakeholders. Nepal has about 25,000 traditional water mills scattered throughout the country. 6,500 of them already have been converted to IMW. Replacement of wooden parts (rotor and shaft) with metallic parts is the main improvement made in the technology. The technology can also generate electricity up to 3 kW, sufficient for lighting as well as for operating small electric and electronic home appliances.

Advantages of IWM

Employment :The installation, advocacy, operation, maintenance and promotion of IMW will create lot of opportunities at national and local level employing skilled as well as unskilled labor.

Income Level :It helps to improve income of mill owner as well as user. It helps to increase living standard of local people.

Boosting the local Economy : The water mill will remove drudgery of traditional grinding. It will save time which people can invest in income generating activities like animal husbandry, agriculture, and others. People will get familiar to new technology and electronic devices which is powered by electricity from water mill.

Gender Mainstreaming and Social Inclusion: Water mills helps to reduce stress of grinding grains for women. Traditionally grinding was done manually by women. This replaces huge burden on women. The mills will be melting point for women to socialize and get connected to each other. It helps to remove social evils like un-touch-ability, status quo and others.  

Environmental Impacts :The IWM is powered by gravity-driven water, a renewable source of energy, which essentially does not produce air pollution or sound pollution. Therefore, the technology is environmentally sound and acceptable.

Sources:

  1. http://www.aepc.gov.np/old/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66&Itemid=108
  2. http://www.inforse.org/asia/pdf/Pub_Nepal%20water%20mill_2014.pdf
  3. http://www.dw.com/en/nepal-efficient-water-mills-produce-electricity/av-15950902
  4. http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~nathan/nepal/ghatta/ghattas.html

Image Source: http://nepalitimes.com/article/nation/Flour-power

 

 

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Water Mill cum Hydro Electric

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Lima Mill used for grinding 

                                                                                                                     Photo Source:angelfire.com

                                                Water mill is one of the traditional kind of grinding wheel that uses wheel or turbine to drive a mechanical process for various end use such as flour grinding,lumber or textile production.This type of technology is applicable in hill areas where there is enough head for running turbine. The water diverted from river or canal provides enough kinetic energy to drive wheel or turbine via head race channel or pipe.The force of the water’s movement drives the blades of a wheel or turbine, which in turn rotates an axle that drives the mill’s other machinery.

                                          Water leaving the wheel or turbine is drained through a tail race, but this channel may also be the head race of yet another wheel, turbine or mill.This kinda of water mill is suitable in hilly and Himalayan region of Nepal where enough head is available.Not only for milling but it can generate electricity which can empower local community which can contribute for decreasing load on central load distribution.

Water Mill cum Micro hydro in Aghakhola, Palpa

                           This is good example of use of appropriate technology helping people to live under light. The micro-hydro generates electricity to operate mill services for customer and provides power in night to local resident in vicinity. 

A walk to Remember: Journey to Listhikot VDC (Chang Ching Village)

                     Travel is one of best way to learn things and explore beyond comfort zone. The less travelled road, after major Earthquake Nepal 2015, left Araniko Highway connecting Kodari to Kathmandu sees fewer commuters. After postponing my trip to Listhikot VDC for several times due to roadblock, it was finally decided to pack bag and hit the highway. After 5 hours of bus ride from Old bus park of Kathmandu we reached Barabise around 5:30pm in evening. As heavy and daily rainfall had brought several landslides blocking road access to Listhikot. So we decided to pursue journey following day hoping roadblock will be clear next day.

                  Ironically there was heavy downpour last night, which completely ruined our plan to travel by bus. We planned to go via any vehicle to Nayapool and then hitchhike uphill to Chang Ching (a village among several village of Listhikot VDC). It was early morning so there was less chance of getting any vehicle, as vehicle plying had reduced significantly after closure of Lasha border. We asked lift for every passing vehicle finally our luck turned out, we got lift from a truck-carrying quarry for ongoing hydropower project at Chaku. (Middle Bhotekoshi Hydropower Project) After an hour journey we reached at Nayapool at 7:00 am. We passed through Nayapool, a spot for bungee jumping and other various adventurous activities hosted by The Last Resort.

                       The uphill journey through fallen houses, temporary shelter of people and terrible sheds for animal brought chill on us. It felt like no presence of any authority or government in vicinity. The uphill walk made us so exhausted we had to make several stops and we ran out of water, which made journey more arduous. The steep hill, heat of sun and lack of water made walk difficult. After 3 hours of walk we reached first house of uphill village. We asked for water, owner of house very generously provided clean water (filtered water) for drinking. He expressed his grievances after earthquake, the losses and tragedies he had to go through.

                 Personally I found him quite traumatic and his odd behavior expressed those fear and anxiety. He said still he couldn’t sleep inside his house at night so generally he prefers sleeping in open space at smooth surface in uphill area. There have been repeated landslides, fracturing of land mass and majority of water sprouts around village area have been dried up. We could witness his saying when we roamed around village.

                     After few minutes walk from his house we reached our final destination Chang Ching village. The main aim was to inspect community kitchen made in Buddhist Gumba for approval of budget from government as fellow traveller was appointed as Civil Engineer in charge for re construction and rehabilitation in Listhi VDC. The journey provided very insightful things, difficulties at grass root level and presence of resentment about state. It came to light people are affected more as there is no income as Lasha border is closed as working as seller or vendor and purchasing daily goods for livelihood. Now they do not have proper shelter to live in, jobs to work and are purchasing Indian goods at higher rate.

                   This journey made me realized ground reality of many Nepalese life from ground zero up.

Hydraulic Ram Pump : Zero Energy Solution

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               The hydram is an automatic pumping device powered by falling water. The hydram uses a large amount of water falling through a small height, to lift a small amount of that water to a much greater height.

                 Each cycle happens very quickly, about 60 times a minute or once a second (although the cycle can be between about 30 and 120 times a minute). Since the cycle happens very quickly it is easiest to explain how it works by looking at the four stages:

Acceleration

                        When the waste valve is open, water flows down the drive pipe and comes out the open valve. The water flowing past the open valve drags past it, trying to close it. The flow down the drive pipe through the impulse valve gets accelerates. As it gets faster, it drags harder on the valve until it is strong enough to drag it closed.

Compression

                         When the waste valve closes, the water flowing down the drive pipe cannot escape through it. At the moment valve closes, the water is travels very fast and suddenly it has nowhere to go. As the water increased speed, it gains momentum. Since the water cannot escape, the momentum changes to pressure-energy and the water in the pump body compresses. This leads to a sudden rise in pressure, called a “water hammer”. The water pressure rises to a much higher level that the pressure in the pump’s air chamber.

Delivery

                        Because the pressure rises higher than the pressure in the air vessel, the delivery valve is pushed open and water flows through it. The pressure in the pump body drops quickly to equal the pressure in the air vessel. The water coming down the drive pipe slows down and the pressure in the pump body drops. As soon as the pressure falls enough to be lower than the pressure in the pump’s air vessel, the delivery valve closes. The delivery valve is a one-way valve, which stops water flowing back from the air vessel into the pump.

Recoil

                              When the delivery valve closes, there is still some pressure in the pump body and drive pipe. The valves in the pump are closed, so the only direction in which the water can move is back the way it came. The water coming down the drive pipe has stopped, so the pressure energy can be released by moving back up the drive pipe. The water in the pump body bouncing back makes the pressure in the pump body fall low enough for the waste valve to reopen. The waste valve reopens because of its own weight. The low pressure in the pump body means that a small amount of air is sucked in through the snifter valve. This air waits under the delivery valve until the next cycle when it will get pushed into the pump’s air vessel. This makes sure that the air vessel always stays full of air.

                                    Figure. Ram Pump Installation at Badegaun, Godawari

                        During each pumping cycle only a small amount of water is pumped. Most of the momentum harvested from a large amount of water is transferred into a small amount of water. The high pressure in the pump body pushes water through the delivery valve and into the air vessel. It provides the power to push the small amount of water much farther uphill than the big amount of water fall downhill.

                        While a hydram is working, water flows out of the waste valve. This happens during the ‘acceleration’ stage of each pump cycle. It is the noise of the “water hammer”, the splashing of water, and the closing of the waste valve that people notice when they see a working hydram. The noise varies from pump to pump. The water leaving the waste valve is often called ‘waste’ water. Although ‘waste’ water is not delivered by the hydram it is the movement-energy harvested from this water that pumps the water that is delivered. A better name for ‘waste’ water would be ‘used’ water.

                                     Figure. Ram Pump Installation at Badegaun, Godawari

Components Of A Hydram And Their Functions

  1. Intake: structure at source that diverts flow of water to the hydram system;
  2. Feed pipe or canal: delivers water from the source to the drive tank;
  3. Drive tank: provides storage to ensure a constant flow to the hydram and removes sediment from the water;
  4. Drive pipe: feeds water to the hydram;
  5. Hydram: pump unit that delivers a small amount of the drive flow to the delivery pipe;
  6. Pump house: to protect the pump and fittings from accidental damage or theft;
  7. Delivery pipe: delivers water from the hydram to the delivery tank;
  8. Delivery tank or pond: stores the water pumped by the hydram. Can be a cement based structure or a lined pond;
  9. Distribution system: distributes water to the users. Piping can take water to households, tap-stands or fields.

Starting a pump

                Although ram pumps often start very easily they can require a little coaxing particularly the first time that they are run. Procedure varies according to drive head in the system with large drive head requiring extra care to starts a pump.

  1. Open the waste vale fairly quickly.
  2. Water will flow out through the open waste valve until it suddenly shuts.
  3. If waste valve automatically reopens, the pumps should continue to run on its own. Some time you need to reopens the waste valve until it creates delivery head.
  4. If waste valve does not reopen automatically for long time, you must prime the delivery system manually by filling the delivery pipe until sufficient delivery head is available for the pump to operate.

    Figure. Installed Ram Pump at Dhungkharkha, Kavre

Source: Centre for Rural Technology/Nepal(CRT/N). All right reserved to CRT/N.

Solar Training and Capacity Building : Power to the People

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                                    March 29, 2016 Before dawn of warm and fuzzy morning I woke with sharp shrill of mobile alarm at 5:00 am. As it was planned to meet at 5:45 am at Old Bus Park to move into another adventurous travel on off load leading to Dhunkharka, Kavre. The bus ride from Old bus park took us to Panauti via Bhaktapur, Sangha, Banepa. The real journey began from here accompanied by Mr. Subash Lamichane and Mr. Kancha Tamang. The 14km dusty, bumpy, narrow and scary road begun from Panauti steadily uphill climb in bus cramped with people, animals (chickens), kids crying, people yelling at each other. It was perfect like Hindi film melodrama at bus. Irony was that we were not able to get any seat through out two hours ride. Even within bus we had to wear mask and continuous shake up really made me tired. But internal motivation to go there and help people to sort things out, teach them, connect them to more reliable energy was continuously pushing me up.

                                        After travel of 2 hours we reached Dhunkharka. The bus stop was on top of hill to reach to our destination we had to go downhill and again uphill. The slow down hill walk began interacting with each other knowing about peculiar things about location. It was good to be back on hills among tress, clam and serene country side where nothing bothers you except cool breeze, birds chirp and perennial flow of river. I encountered various rural technology like water mill, hydraulic ramjet pump, fodder cutting machine, solar system. The very delicious meal was waiting for us, prepared from organic vegetables, grains crushed from water mills, cooked in improved cooking stove, rice grown in nearby fields. This was perfect amalgamation of technology with rural livelihood.

                       The training sessions began at 11:00 am. The 22 owners of solar system were present in upper floor of cowshed. It was great to see energy and enthusiasm in people. The training started with introduction of speakers and participants. The training was planned for 2 hours and following topics were discussed:

  • The initial session explained about what is renewable energy, Solar as renewable energy.

  • Participants were introduced about solar system and its components like Panel, Battery, Charge Controller and Load.

  • Installation do how and safety handling was demonstrated with system present on the location.

  • Various Procedure for Repair and Maintenance were provided.

  • Specific care handling, minor damage and quick repair locally was provided about battery, charge controller and loads.

  • Final solar power use calculation was done and how much load people can use with technology given to them was shown.

Training Outcomes

                          The people have been following malpractice about solar system handling. The solar panel were hung as photo frame in walls, no safety precaution were taken, people were brining in & out panels in rains, their perception was heat generated more power than light. About training accomplishment participants got chance to learn about each components of solar system. They are now able to assemble and dis-assemble the system on their own. The standard parameters like facing panels on south direction, keeping panels at 30/45 degrees, keeping battery far from heat source, use of loads according to power generation, sustainability of battery system, various light symbols and their meanings present on charge controller, minor repairs was provided. Overall looking after longevity of solar system with efficient use was provided.

                  After completion of training we visited two hydraulic pump operation at Chanaute and Ladkhu. We learned about bio-char preparation, its use.

                           The return was one of the most memorable journey of my life. The last seat of bus squeezed between a women with child and old grand pa. The lady by side was vomiting throughout journey while grand pa was drunk, mumbling and fumbling with words and directions. The smell from both side was killing me, as I sat contemplating about life. I endured situation, just invigorated into circumstance.

                                              This was one of my life awakening journey. What surprised me was humbleness and subtlety of people. Obviously they are cutoff from mainstream media attention still they are happy to be living there. There are numerous challenges but somehow they have managed to be living well. I hope to see better road access, sustainable clean energy supply, educational facilities, better health facilities and access to ICT be within their reach. The natural serenity shall not be disturbed, only right technology along with nature can develop Dhunkharkha.

Pani Ghatta : A Grinding Machine

                       Water mill is one of the clean and appropriate technology for grinding at local level. The most of part of Nepal still remains far from electric grid connection. The rural electrification has been catch word just to remain safely in vaults of Planning commissions.. Nepal faces one of the longest hour of blackouts as energy crunch nation we are struggling with basic right to energy access. The geographical terrain, improper settlements of housing system, challenges of hindrances on scenic beauty and landscape as tourism being one of major attraction, losses on transmission lines might be counter acting such kinda of electrification initiative.

                       The appropriate technology is recognizing need of local people, meeting their aspirations and bringing them one step closer to energy access. There is flow of water from higher hills to lower plains. Here gravity does most of the work. The Kinetic energy of water can be directly used for generating energy. Traditionally we have been harnessing such energy through water mill. Still today lots of people in rural areas are highly dependent on traditional water mill for grinding all required household goods such as flour, rice, wheat, spices and also oil in some cases.

Working Mechanism:

                       The water from head of 20m or above is brought in open or closed conduit. Traditionally wooden blades are used as turbine on which water jets are strike upon, jets rotates the bigger wheel mounted on smaller wheel. There is continuos feed of grains in between grinds into finer particles.

A story form DhunKharkha, Kavre

                           The village has perennial source of water, water mill is located near river close to the source of water. The villagers have been using water mill for grinding their grains. It was happy to encounter old mother who was grinding her maize on mill. She was so delighted to use it, as it has reduced efforts and time that people used to devote for grinding in traditional way. She explained although she is weak and fragile, she can help her family in some way. The use of water mill popularly known as pani ghatta is free to use. The opening and closing is as simple with supplying and cutting off water supply to mill. She is happy and proud user of water mill.

                                 This is what appropriate and proper technology can transform rural life. Helps in bridging gap in energy and technology use.

The Dilemma : To Build Or Not To

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                               The Gorkha/Nepal earthquake 2015 remained one of devastating natural calamities country ever faced. Its irony in seismically volatile country like Nepal to remain responsive and readiness for such disasters. Not only earthquake shook our hope and aspiration but fell our homes, institutions and heritages down. The western and central regions of Nepal were most affected regions due to earthquake. The temporary shelters were built for providing shelter for people as seismic activities continues. They have passed scorching sun of summer, chilling winters and again they are exposed to rainy season.

                                              With no proper shelter, sanitation, strong waves of wind how will they be able to cope with limited foods and basic utilities. They are in great dilemma whether to built permanent housing as they fear buildings permanent houses in such seismically active time will result in weak foundation. The fear is still among them, there is no proper presence of government, people believe that government is only looking after so call high class people of villages and squandering budget in high level meet ups in city. While true affected people are suffering, their woes and pain are higher.

                      The feeling of lawlessness is increasing among local people in affected regions. While government is busy on data collection, assessment of it, finding actual proof of devastation in ground level, further strategy, bringing Re-construction authority in full shape. The other side feel desolated and isolated from mainstream. The helping and distribution of relief works is being heavily politicized creating very biased relief works. While billion dollar pledges from various donors still lies in limbo. The awards of best finance ministership gained by then ministership having being assured is slowly going o vain.

                            While we are discussing about potential solution, government being guardian of country should make its presence felt. This is time for government to step in to gain trust and credibility that it stands there for public welfare. The past experience suggest a very different track as of embezzlement and corruption that our leaders, bureaucrats and official are popular. The need of hour is honest and accountable head of Re-Construction Authority who can independently work for goodwill of people without any personal vendetta and biasses.

                             About technicality of building house it is only safe to built house once seismic activities are out of radar. But there has to be arrangement of other facilities so people feel comfortable in existing houses. Like proper sanitation as I see most of house are not equipped with proper toilets. They are improperly build up. Once rainy seasons starts there might be outbreak of water borne diseases as people are residing closely with each other. The supply of pure drinking water should be arranged beforehand. The frequent shocks and tremor has loosened lands bonding, as volatility of landslides and erosion will be higher.

                             Instead of carrying relief with great fanfare once tragedy hits it. Its better to equip them beforehand. There should be emergency unit for readiness and response in such fragile area. The proper planning, surveying and data study should be done for better results. Thus we can create a resilience, responsive and readiness community.

Photo Source: Nepali Times