Sustainable Technologies

Solar Power Center
PCER's solar power system will be used to analyze the benefits and challenges of installing, operating, and

maintaining renewable energy systems in remote regions. Non-polluting sources of electricity are especially important in fragile ecosystems such as the Pantanal wetland. On-site research is generously funded by U of M's LS&A Honors Program for summer 2010, and research was compiled into a thesis in spring 2011 (available upon request). 

Bio-Sand Water Filter
So-called slow-sand water filters use only sand and gravel to filter water. In the filter, water slowly percolates through layers of sand and gravel. In the top layer of sand, a biological film of bacteria builds up. After a period of time building this layer, the bacteria residing in it use all the nutrients in water being passed through the filter. The lack of nutrients causes other bacteria in the water to die. Further physical filtration by the tight-packed layers of sand ensure safe drinking water.

The bio-gas digester works by harnessing the power of ever-present anaerobic bacteria. These bacteria live in manure and other organic waste, and produce methane gas when they digest the waste. The digester creates an oxygen-free environment in which these bacteria can flourish. The gas they produce is harvested by the system and is used in stoves for cooking.

Water Tower, Solar Water Pump, Settling Tanks and Fast-Sand Water Filtration System
Designed in 2012 by architects and engineering students, the water tower collects water from a well with a solar pump before letting iron oxide settle out and then running the water through a series of fast-sand filters (which physically filter organic and inorganic particulates).

A solar-powered mobile phone signal amplifier is part of an internet system to be installed in 2012 or 2013.

Building Architecture
PCER was designed by University of Michigan architects to most efficiently stay cool, cutting costs and energy necessary for cooling.

Vehicle Fuel Economy Modifications
PCER owns a 1994 VW bus, which it purchased as an inexpensive means of transportation for students, staff, and volunteers. The bus may soon serve as a school bus. Modifications to the bus are beginning in 2012 and include the the incorporation of a regenerative braking system, photovoltaic technology, a thermal energy recapture system with steam, and smart “flex”-fuel injection to enable use of ethanol as fuel.

Wind Power Generator
We are currently working on a simple wind turbine that may allow locals to generate enough energy to recharge phones and use fans and lights without using a diesel generator. Best of all, the designs we are looking into use recycled parts and are thus easy and cost-effective for locals.

Trash Incinerator
Across the developing world, trash is dumped and burned outside. A trash incinerator will help to limit the harmful toxins released by burning trash as well as allow another way to harvest energy from waste products.