The Solar Thermal Training & Demonstration Initiative

Bursaries for Masters Students Working on Solar Thermal Projects

Written by Monika Spörk-Dür & Werner Weiss on 26 July 2017
Masters Bursary Recipients

To support the aims of the SOLTRAIN project in the partner countries Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and to motivate students at universities to do their masters thesis in the field of solar thermal, four students have been awarded bursaries to facilitate their research. The bursary supports travel costs to visit another institution in Southern Africa for further study or experimental work, equipment to conduct experiments to support the research and running cost of experimental work or further studies.

All of the partner countries invited students to participate in the bursary program. By the end of March 2017, 19 applications had been received, comprising four female and fifteen male students. The share in respect of countries was five applications from South Africa, eight from Zimbabwe and seven from Namibia. There were no applications from Lesotho and Mozambique. Topics submitted ranged from more theoretical studies to work on real systems and the building of prototypes. A jury evaluated the applications in terms of relevance, feasibility and budget required.

Based on the evaluation, the four students with the highest scores were awarded the bursaries. There was a good distribution concerning gender (two female and two male students) and country balance, with two students hailing from Zimbabwe and one each from South Africa and Namibia.

A report describing and illustrating the research work, including the description of the studies undertaken and results of the research work will be available for each of the awarded research studies by the end of 2017. In 2018 a second round for applications will take place.

Gamuchirai Mutubuki

Gamuchirai Mutubuki from National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe, is going to work on the design of a hybrid vapor absorption milk chiller (solar and biogas) for small scale dairy farms in Zimbabwe. In this project solar thermal energy will be used for cooling the milk during the day time when there is plenty of sunlight, and biogas energy will be used at night or when there is no sunlight. The heated water will be used to run the chiller, cleaning all the dairy equipment and for the employees' bathing.

In Zimbabwe, small scale dairy farmers use firewood for pasteurization and there are poor cooling methods. Dairy equipment, specifically pasteurizers and chillers, consume a lot of energy. This project is planned to eliminate the costly energy source of the chiller and thereby reduce day to day running costs of the dairy plant. It will investigate how dairy farmers located in the rural areas can be supported with this new technological approach.

Mandlenkosi Sikhonza

Mandlenkosi Sikhonza from the University of Fort Hare, South Africa, is going to design and monitor the performance of an innovative residential prototype solar air source heat pump water heater. The residential solar air source heat pump water heater will comprise a heat pump unit of 0.5 kW input power, a 1 kW solar PV panel, an inbuilt inverter circuit and a 100 litre storage tank.

There will also be a 24V DC battery with a charging capacity of 10 Ah. The solar air source heat pump water heater uses two sources of renewable energy, solar and aerothermal energy, to produce the desired hot water for sanitary purposes. The two electrically driven components of the system are the compressor and the fan. The performance of the 100 litre residential solar air source heat pump water heater under controlled simulated hot water drawn off at specific period of the day (morning, afternoon and evening) will be compared to a 100 litre flat plate solar water heater as well as a 100 litre air source heat pump water heater and a 100 litre high pressure electric geyser.
Guidence Muchengeti

Guidence Muchengeti from National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe is going to explore solar thermal integration opportunities for the tourism and hospitality sector in Zimbabwe.

Four research areas will be selected and solar thermal surveys will be carried out. The current heating systems being used in these tourism facilities will be assessed and the hot water demand will be analysed for optimal design of the solar thermal heating system. The research will also seek to determine the breakeven points for different operating conditions for hotels in Zimbabwe.

The use of solar water heating in Zimbabwe has been largely driven by domestic installations, however there is potential in the hospitality industry, hence the need to unlock demand of solar water heating systems in the hospitality industry in Zimbabwe. The study is aimed at improving the collector area per capita for Zimbabwe.

Anna Amupolo

Anna Amupolo from Namibia University of Science and Technology is going to do her research on a comparative study of solar water heater and electrical geyser in terms of performance and financial benefits. The research work seeks to provide proof of concept that a solar water heater is a longterm investment that will save money spent on water heating after the system has paid for itself. The main objective of this research is to evaluate the economic cost of solar water heater and electrical geyser and this can be achieved by finding the present value of installing a SWH, the present value for installing an electrical geyser, the present value of saving for each system and finding the pay-back period.

This research will also evaluate the energy performance of the solar water heating system based on its long-term thermal performance and efficiency. Since it aims to promote the use of renewable energy, it will also help the consumers to choose the most efficient systems.