A year of collaboration between Mondragon University and the Felix Baltistan Foundation in the care of Borja Moreno: Renewable energy to guarantee basic good for the people of the Hushe Valley.

Jul 20, 2011
The thesis of a student of Industrial Design at the Mondragon University has been undertaken with the aim of improving the health and hygiene of the inhabitants of the Hushe Valley. New solar apricot driers have been introduced, as have optimized prototype solar hot water systems and the widespread use of solar ovens. The project is a step toward the achievement of basic human rights and is particularly aimed at women: the forgotten of the Valley. This has been funded by the municipalities of Bermeno (€8,000), Oñati (€1,250) and Zegama (€1,000).
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From 20 October 2010, Borja Moreno has been undertaking his thesis, coordinated jointly by tutors from Mondragon and Felix Baltistan Fundazioa (FBF). The social requirement for the project was recognised by the Health and Gender group of the Foundation who identified problems related to: the need to provide domestic hot water for the personal hygiene of women, the obligation to comply with HACCP hygiene regulations in the process of drying apricots and the development of solutions for the current problem of smoke extraction from the cooking process.

 The project began with a meteorological analysis of the Hushe Valley to explore the potential of renewable energy for use in the area, in the daily lives of local people. The prototypes under consideration for optimisation were: three solar apricot driers, the solar oven and the Solar ACS.

During the machine optimization process, the use of appropriate technology was stressed; basic technologies that can be developed by local skilled workers. Moreover, the ultimate goal has never been the technological development itself, but human development, making the technology just another tool.

secador solar

The solar drier has been the subject of much physical work: the project has been on-going for 4 years with the coordination of the agricultural group of FBF. This project allows a year by year increase in income through the better production and sale of dried apricots. This activity is carried out predominantly by the women and the economic empowerment is, to them, of great social significance.

The Solar Hot Water heater has had the most impact on the local people. We have designed a book explaining the assembly methodology, following the application of appropriate technologies and modular industrial design methodology.

difusión social de hornos solares

 The solar oven has been the key to approaching women in the Valley. Sarai Martinez, head of Gender FBF, gave a course on the use of solar cooking, emphasizing its positive aspects, such as cooking in a smoke-free environment, avoiding daily trips loaded with 20 kg of wood and the use of compost for the garden instead of burning it.” Alzua, one of the health team told the women of the valley: "Look at the ceiling of the kitchen, it’s really black? Completely black, right? It’s the same in the lungs and it is the cause of many of the lung diseases that women get.”

 A quarter of the energy applications have been developed theoretically, with Sonkyo Energy, a company manufacturing wind generators. We have performed a feasibility plan to use wind power in the Valley. The project will be the beginning of a more comprehensive wind study.

Horno solar modelo UACM

Finally, following investigations in the north, machinery has been developed for the efficient use of solar thermal energy. This has been done in collaboration with Xabier Etxeberria, an expert builder of solar ovens from Ordizia, and Eduardo Rincon Mejia, University Autonomous of Mexico City.

The collaboration ends today, 03 August 2011, with an academic assessment of 9.5 out of 10 and with the gratitude of the residents of the Hushe Valley.

For the coming year, the doors to future collaboration are completely open, from both institutions, to continue providing solutions for such basic problems such as lack of sanitation and hygiene. Moreover, both institutions appreciate the work being done in the north, thanks to the awareness of university scholars and their concern for international cooperation.

The project is a step toward the humanization of technology development, the north working in the south and the south working in the north.