Empowering people

Posted on 25 Oct 2013 by The Manufacturer

Siemens Stiftung's Empowering People Awards will take place in Kenya next week, with two British inventors in contention for the prize aimed at recognising technological solutions and making them visible and accessible to the public.

Since the launch of the competition at the UN Summit for Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, inventors and developers around the world were called upon to submit their tested, simple tech innovations in seven crucial supply categories.

Following the deadline for the entries at the end of January this year, over 800 qualified inventions from 90 countries had been submitted.

The Manufacturer spoke to two of the British contenders to profile their innovations and the impact they hope to make on the world.

David Osborne, inventor of the Jompy Water Boiler

The Score Stove - image courtesy of The University of Nottingham.

David Osborne, a plumber from Troon on the West Coast of Scotland, has come up with an the Jompy Water Boiler, aimed at bringing clean drinking water to the developing world. The product allows water to be boiled while a pot is cooking over a fire.

Osborne said he was inspired to invent the product while on his honeymoon in South Africa. “I had a chat with my wife after going there about how much things had progressed since I was last there. After agreeing they hadn’t and me being Mr Fix-it-all, I decided to get to work.”

After three years in development which saw the addition of pebbles being place on the bottom rings to enhance the heating, Osborne said he had difficulties getting charities on board, but he now works closely with the Tearfund, a UK-based water and sanitation foundation.

With the business now divided into two departments – leisure and aid – consumer purchases from the former sees money go directly in to the latter.

But should he be successful next week, Osborne said the ultimate goal remains the product being put into use in order to address the issue of clean water drinking in some of Africa’s poorest countries.

“Our manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure is all there, so we aren’t motivated by money; it’s more a case of getting people to use it to make a difference,” he said.

“A lot of people ask me if it’s money or status that has attracted me to do something like this, but honestly: I just want to help people. If it gets used within charities or obtains sponsorship, then it’ll be a great outcome.”

Paul Riley, inventor of Score Stove

The Jompy Water Boiler - image courtesy of Celsius Global Solutions.

Paul Riley, is the inventor of the the Score Stove, a wood-powered electrical generator capable of cooking food for rural villages. His idea came about in 2005 after the Engineering and Science Research Council (EPSRC) challenged 30 academics to develop energy-related ideas for developing countries.

“I had this idea that smoke was bad in the homes and also electricity wasn’t available everywhere,” said Riley. “I remembered in the back of my mind a technology called thermo-acoustics, so I approached academics, got a consortium together which was successful before receiving £2m of funding for a five-year project.”

In this five year period; three years of research followed by an additional two of seeking out people to distribute it, the project was completed in June this year.

Led by the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at The University of Nottingham, the project team uses thermo-acoustic technology to convert the heat from biomass fuels into sound then electrical energy, surplus heat powers the cooking.

A number of prototypes have been produced  in target countries Bangladesh, Nepal and Kenya.

Riley said he approached Indian giant TATA, but its interest cooled after the Score Stove fell below the required 50 watt electrical standard, being a 20 watt product.

Long term, Riley said he hopes to attract a manufacturer which sees the Score Stove as a product worthy of investing in time and money into.

“We’ve not met the target of the larger manufacturers, so we need someone with a broader view who sees even at low power levels, it’s a useful product to invest in,” he said.

The winners will be awarded in Nairobi, Kenya next Tuesday.