Wireframe (Affordable Wind Turbine) by Ben Koros
2016 - 2017, Golden A' Social Design Award Winner
I have read about William Kamkwamba, a young boy from Malawi (see the case study in the attached PDF), who built his first wind turbine out of scrap materials to help his family. I thought, a super cheap and accessible turbine could be the solution for the lack of electricity, that many villages around the world struggle with - before (for example) Internet.org can bring affordable internet to them. But how can such a product spread, and be held up for a long time, while generating just enough electricity for a village household? That's the challenge...
Wireframe is a system that brings cheap electricity to village households. It considers the development of extremelly cheap wind turbines made partially of recycled components, and training locals to build, maintain and spread them in their communities, in order to make villages connect to the 'global information society'.
Design Challenges
Spreading an idea and product without the help of the internet was also a hard objective to complete, as well as creating something so simple, in order to make it understandable - so people can be easily trained to build and maintain it. Another challenging factor was to keep the price under 15Euros. The end result turned out to be cheaper than the cheapest component of the cheapest hobby turbines around. Also, it was hard to take the weather, aerodynamics, and component supply into consideration, while keeping the product cost so low.
Production Technology
After researching the target audience and listening to presentations of well known people (Superlocal, f.e.), who has already designed products for people of Malawi - I read up on wind turbines and possible technologies, then used the 'Design Thinking' methodology to evaluate my drafts. Some parts are 3D printed from biodegradable PLA, the cover and blades are cut from a styrene sheet, all the other components are found and recycled / upcycled. The working prototype has been made in three days (with the search for components), and assembled in 15 minutes.
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