Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Malawi Boy Builds Windmill Out of Junk

William Kamkwamba of Malawi was expelled from his high school for non-payment. At 14 years old he went to the library and started reading an American textbook called 'Using Energy.' People thought the kid was nuts. Turns out he was just a genius.

Mr Kamkwamba, who is now 22 years old, knocked together a turbine from spare bicycle parts, a tractor fan blade and an old shock absorber, and fashioned blades from plastic pipes, flattened by being held over a fire…

Soon the whiz kid’s 12-watt wonder was pumping power into his family’s mud brick compound…

Out went the paraffin lanterns and in came light bulbs and a circuit breaker, made from nails and magnets off an old stereo speaker, and a light switch cobbled together from bicycle spokes and flip-flop rubber.

Before long, locals were queuing up to charge their mobile phones…

Meanwhile, he installed a solar-powered mechanical pump, donated by well-wishers, above a borehole, adding water storage tanks and bringing the first potable water source to the entire region around his village.

He upgraded his original windmill to 48-volts and anchored it in concrete after its wooden base was chewed away by termites.

Jude Sheerin’s story at the BBC has more details about the life of this remarkable young man, who is now the subject of a new book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

William Kamkwamba Blog

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