Friday, January 21, 2011

Hola from Nicaragua!

Volcan Cerro Negro on the way to the Solar Center in Totogalpa
Hello everyone!

Talking details.

The UC Davis D-Lab group just returned from a few weeks in the field in Nicaragua where we built a solar fruit dryer for drying and preserving fruits.
We were working with Grupo Fenix ( and the women's cooperative called the Solar Women of Totogalpa ( in a beautiful, mountainous area of north central Nicaragua. 

Our UC Davis D-Lab team consisted of UC Davis Environmental Engineering student, Blake Ringeisen; UC Berkeley PhD candidate student, Jessica Vechakul; D-Lab Director, Kurt Kornbluth; and D-Lab Program Manager, Gwynn Benner.

Collaborating on goals for design.

The local building team consisted of Nimia, Yelba, Rumalda, and Alejandra with additional hands-on support by Mauro Corralez and Jorge.

Construction underway!
The project was a huge success.


In addition to building the solar drying with the building team, D-Lab also established some great relationships with the PV group (Mauro and Mauro C.) as well as students and faculty from the Alternative Energy Program at Nicaragua's National Engineering University.

The finished dryer.
 We met with the directors of SolSimple, a new and innovative company exporting TASTY organic dried fruits to the U.S. (see them on Facebook and in stores now!).

And also met with other groups interested in renewable energy alternatives. We had an amazing detailed presentation by Alberto Navarro, a representative from the national utility, who gave an excellent overview of Nicaragua's current grid challenges and future planned growth in the next five years. 
Here's a close up of the trim details of the
finished dryer. Air vents help regulate heat and humidity. 

Tim O'Hare was gracious enough to give us some of his time when we visited him at the Embassy's USAID office as well. 

We hope to send another team of students to continue our work on the solar dryer with the Solar Women and Grupo Fenix early this coming summer.

Stay tuned for more updates in the future.

Tomatoes drying. Tomotoes are in
abundance during harvest and
loss is high when they are in season.

The local team explain to the D-Lab
team the workings of their indirect solar
dryer used to dry herbs.

Grupo Fenix co-founder and director of alternative energy at the National
Engineering University in Managua in front of the Solar Center


Unknown said...

that volcano is Momotombo...

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