Home SMART 100 2015 Solar Agro-Processing Mills

Solar Agro-Processing Mills [SMART 100, 2015]

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This SMART 100 profile and the information it contains is a duplication of content submitted by the applicant during the entry process. As a function of entry, applicants were required to declare that all details are factually correct, do not infringe on another’s intellectual property and are not unlawful, threatening, defamatory, invasive of privacy, obscene, or otherwise objectionable. Some profiles have been edited for reasons of space and clarity.

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1. THE BEGINNING

This innovation initially came to life when…

…solar panel prices dropped in the last few years to the point where solar power is basically cheap enough to power anything. The idea has been planned for many years as our team distributes solar LED lights around the world, but came into reality when a middle east foundation, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Rotary Melbourne supported the team to build the first range of rice hullers, flour grinders, cassava graters, coconut shredders and corn shellers. These were trialed in 2014, then refined and commercially launched in 2015.

2. WHAT & HOW

The purpose of this innovation is to…

…replace diesel-fueled mills and manual labour (mostly by women and girls who prepare meals daily) in villages that currently lack access to electricity, saving up to 1 hour every day of wasted time that can be used more productively.

It does this by…

…using power from the sun to create DC electricity, which is stored for a short period in a battery, and then used by 250-750W DC motors that replace the AC mills in mature, micro-scale agricultural machinery that is found widely in developing countries. We have chosen to avoid AC electricity to avoid using expensive and complex inverters, for utmost simplicity.

3. PURPOSE & BENEFITS

This innovation improves on what came before because…

…1.2 billion people in the world still lack electricity and many of these rural households then lack the machines that are needed to turn staple food crops into edible food on a daily basis, or if such a mill exists, it is a diesel mill that uses expensive fuel, and is often located 2-20km away, requiring additional expense for transport.

Its various benefits to the customer/end-user include…

…saving time spent traveling to diesel or electric mills many miles away, reducing dependency on imported diesel fuels, and/or saving up to 1 hour per day of exhausting manual labour to process crops by hand with sticks and stones.

4. COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE

In the past, this problem was solved by…

…pounding crops with sticks to take the hulls off rice grains, or grinding grains between stones by hand to turn corn into flour, or grating cassava on a large metal grater, and many other similar manual processes; or, a house takes a 20-50kg bag of crops to a diesel/electric mill 2-20km away, which are usually in larger villages and towns.

Its predecessors/competitors include…

…using an inverter between the solar panel and the machine to convert DC energy into AC energy – however, inverters tend to fail in the remote, rugged conditions typically found in rural villages, and are costly, so we use DC motors.
solar_corn_sheller

5. TARGET MARKET

It is made for…

…1.2 billion people globally that lack access to electricity in small rural villages of 10-100 households where larger diesel or electric mills (2kW-20kW) are rarely found. Women will benefit more than men as they are generally the ones that process food on a daily basis, which we estimate will cost $0.01-0.05 per kg and save up to 1 hour of women’s time per day, but this time could be spent making a product that can be sold for $2-5, increasing her productivity for up to 365 hours per year by 100-fold and linking her to important local and international markets.

It is available for sale through…

…our supply chain of Chinese and Thai machinery factories, DC motors suppliers and solar panel manufacturers, whose products we combine into a system to suit each customer’s needs. This process is headed by our partner in development, Project Support Services.

Our marketing strategy is to…

…lend solar agro-processing mills to the rapidly increasing number of companies that are bringing solar LED lighting systems, particularly via small-scale minigrids, to rural villages globally, and loan this asset to the village for 3-5 years until it is paid off with income collected by our minigrid partner organizations. Some cash sale opportunities will exist, and crowdfunding opportunities also exist.

FINE PRINT: This SMART 100 profile and the information it contains is a duplication of content submitted by the applicant during the entry process. As a function of entry, applicants were required to declare that all details are factually correct, do not infringe on another’s intellectual property and are not unlawful, threatening, defamatory, invasive of privacy, obscene, or otherwise objectionable. Some profiles have been edited for reasons of space and clarity.

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