DIT engineers build new water supply for Kenyan village
THREE young engineers are to travel to Kenya after winning a prestigious competition aimed at harnessing modern technology to help the poorest people on the planet.
The three newly qualified engineers, Thomas Carrigg from Dun Laoghaire, Brendan Beattie, from Rathmines, and Seán Byrne, from Greystones, will now travel to east Africa to help install technology which, through air condensing, will provide a valuable water source for villagers.
The three spent the last four years at DIT Bolton Street studying civil engineering and won the top prize in an engineering competition.
The competition, Where there is no Engineer, is organised by Liam McCarton and Sean O Hogan, lecturers at DIT, with students from DIT, UCD and UCC taking part.
It is supported by Engineers Without Borders, Concern Worldwide, Irish Aid, Engineers Ireland and Environmental Sustainability and Health Institute.
Tanaiste Joan Burton, a former DIT lecturer, said the competition was a remarkable undertaking.
"I commend DIT for its foresight in developing this programme. Students and their lecturers have had the opportunity to design creative and sustainable solutions for real and very pressing development issues," she told the Herald.
"The programme demands critical and creative thinking to create change and to find sustainable solutions across a range of themes," she said.
The winning project is a modified version of a system originally developed in Australia for irrigation.
"We found that in Kenya a high volume of the water available had already been tapped to near capacity and much of this was sub quality," Thomas Carrigg explained.
"For this reason we decided to focus on finding a new water source and began to look at the possibility of building a machine that takes water from the air. It draws in humid air, pumps it underground so as to cool it and condense the water vapour and the water can then be used for irrigation and as drinking water.
"We decided to use wind power to drive the system rather than solar energy because we wanted to create a simpler and more maintenance-free system. By removing electrical components and creating a mechanical system it reduced the technical knowledge that would be required for the system to be maintained and cut the overall cost," Sean Byrne added.
The three students plan to build their design in Dublin and then assembling it when they arrive in Marsabit in Kenya.
The finished design will stand three metres high and go two metres into the ground.
"Under ideal conditions it is hoped the mechanism will produce 157 litres of water a day, and, according to World Health Organisation figures, that is enough water for 28 people per day," Brendan Beattie said.
Before heading out to Kenya the students plan to install two of the mechanisms at the DIT campus in Grangegorman.
The students estimate that it will cost approximately €264 to build each unit.