Appropriate Technologies Lab

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This page is for the Appropriate Technologies Lab's (ATL) collaboration projects with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) - UAH & Engineers Without Borders - Huntsville Professionals (EWB - UAH-HSV Google Group). The ATL will operate in support of EWB's projects for Mujila Falls Agriculture Center Centre based in the Kanyama Chiefdom of NorthWestern Province, Zambia. The core requirements of what is developed is that it uses appropriate technologies for the place where it is implemented as well as uses local labor and resources to support the local economy and communities.

Information & History of Kanyama Region

Makers Local 256 Contact: CandleKnight (

EWB Contact:


Projects & Status

Water Delivery & Purification

Water Hippo Hack

Water Hippo Hack

Hydraulic Ram Pump

A pump that runs on hydropower. The agricultural center has a waterfall on its property. Implementing a pump there would provide water.


Microhydro Power

The waterfall on the agricultural center's property can be harnessed to provide power.

Agricultural Gear

Soil Limer Maker

Zambia has very acidic soil and it must be limed for agriculture. Local limestone deposits can be harvested for lime. Need to make a low-energy and low-resources input device that can make lime from limestone.


Tools to help cultivate fields quickly with only human power. There is an example at the agricultural center that is made from an old bike attached to a cultivator tool head. It reduces the time of cultivation of a field from several days to two hours.

Solar Food Dryer

Need one with a drying capacity of 100-200 lbs of produce per day to help preserve the center's output for market. Currently have a test prototype to learn about solar food drying.

  • 4/25/11 - Lindsay from EWB and Spacefelix did some planning and drafting work on a design based on a dryer Preauxphoto used while hunting in the Louisiana Bayou. Lindsey has a garden in her house that produces enough fruit to test the dryers.
  • 5/7/11 - Lindsay came by the shop and showed her designs for a stackable modular unit. It can be reconfigured for updraft or downdraft operation so we can experiment with each. We discussed alternative construction options to allow the technology to be more end-user moddable (appropriate technologies); these include taking a shelf or cabinet and venting and attaching a solar chute. We've decided to build a test article based on this idea starting 5/14/11.
    • Also discussed an alternative design for a stackable cabinet unit. The main structure would consist of mateable frames that would have light paneling on the exterior that would allow for doors to be installed.
    • Discussed using cheesecloth for the food trays as a cheap, food-safe and easy means of construction. Would need to be supported by a weave of twine or rope.
  • 5/19/11 - Lindsay and Spacefelix explored the possibility of using a premade plastic cabinet as a solar food dryer concept article. Concluded that this was not safe for food due to plastic offgassing. Concluded that a cheap alternative just for concepts would be to make one out of cardboard and test. We will continue next meeting.

12-3-11 SIFAT Tour

Come learn about appropriate technologies on 12/3/11. Wikipage to sign up and for more info.

  • 12/3/11 - Tour was a success! We learned a lot and made a lot of contacts. Pictures to come soon!

General Status

  • 5/22/11 - Met with Reverend Paul Webster and Andre from Mujila, the project we support. We discussed many technical details on the project. Notes below:
    • Resources & Skills
      • Andre is a welder and oxen wagon driver. He has welded many project together at Mujila; a see-saw and swing set for a kids playground, a donkey wagon and more from steel rebar and angle iron.
      • There are resources, skills and tools for metal welding work and carpentry at Mujila:
        • On-site gas-powered sawmill machine for making wood planks. Andre is the mechanic that maintains and operates the machine.
        • Access to steel pipe, rebar and angle iron.
        • Access to hard and soft wood trees.
        • Specialized parts such and tires, wheels, springs and axles can be had from junked cars, bikes and more.
      • Designed and built bike cultivator - Upside down bike on one wheel with a plowshare on the seat and handlebars on its 'bottom'. 10 times more productive at cultivating fields than working with a hoe (See above).
      • Building fish farms.
      • Dams built to supply irrigation water from nearby stream. Dan build from specialized oxen-pulled earth-mover built from steel drum.
      • Access to beasts of burden such as oxen and donkeys. However, note the following specifications:
        • Donkey - Can haul 600 kg in Andre's donkey cart, costs $400. Feed by grazing for free in wild bush fields. Used mainly for transport of people and cargo.
        • Oxen - Can haul 1000 kg, estimated cost is $700. Assumed fed in a similar manner to the donkey or feed from fermented produce (maize, beans, ect.). Usually sold as a calf which is then raised specifically to be a beast of burden. Process can take years. Used mainly for pulling plows on wooden yokes.
      • Access to livestock for food; goats ($50/head), milk cows, beef cows, pigs, chickens (eggs!) and rabbits. Use manure as field fertilizer.
      • Grow maize, beans, plantains, tubers, fruits, ect.
      • Women's Sewing Club - Have access to cotton which they weave and sew into clothes for themselves and to sell.
      • Much improvement in economic, social and health situation in Kenyama, Zambia region due to influence of knowledge from Mujila.
    • Water Hippo Hack
      • Discussed water issue in village with Andre and the practicality of water systems to help with water hauling. He said that buying a beast of burden and making a wagon specifically for hauling water is too expensive for the benefit gained. Per above, it's a $400 cost plus the labor for the wagon. He liked the idea of the water hippo hack. Has asked for a basic concept drawing to be sent to him so that he can experiment.
    • Solar Food Dryer
      • Andre stated a similar interest in the solar food dryer. Has asked for plans to be sent to him so he may work on concept.
      • Rev. Webster recommended non-wood construction for the solar food dryer since termites are an issue.