← Back to all posts.
Off the grid and purifying water for 1000 in Haiti

Sunforge supports New Life International (NLI) in its mission to provide clean water where it is needed most. Duvon McGuire, the founder of NLI, invented a durable, cost-effective, and simple-to-operate water purifier that creates chlorine to disinfect water.

In Haiti, the NLI campus is 100% off-grid thanks to a 15KW solar system installed on the roof of the main building of the campus.

We have asked Duvon to talk about NLI and his water purification system:

 

“The primary purpose of the campus is to support our safe-water disinfection ministry. With our typical water purification setup we have the ability to disinfect enough drinking water for a 1000 people per day running off 12 volt DC power. The big challenge is power, our water purification systems are capable of serving many thousands per day if not for the issues of power.

We are constantly challenged by the tensions between those who have and those who don’t have access to safe water. How can we turn our eyes away from someone who is asking us for their life? We have been helping tens of thousands of people with safe water via our electrolytic disinfection technologies. See more at www.waterfortheworld.org

At our campus in Haiti we have learned some hard lessons about operating off grid. For one thing, we are not running just the water purification systems. There are three refrigerators, two submersible pumps, water coolers, loads of fans and lights, computers, cellphone chargers and appliances. The national electric grid is not much to talk about and plagued by lots of recurring outages. What more, if you are a foreign NGO, your monthly electric bill could be almost anything due to the local habits of passing on all sorts of expenses to those with a perceived ability to pay. We have a 20 KW Diesel generator, but wearing the thing out would be a costly maintenance nightmare, to say nothing of burning over $5K worth of diesel fuel per year, even at quarter output. We will spare you the painful evolution, however, progress started to become evident when we managed to run an arc welder off the solar system!

 


On top of this roof are fifty 300 W solar panels. We have the unfortunate situation that solar panels are not always of the best quality in Haiti, I think this is where factory seconds go to die. As a result, stringing together panels can be problematic as one or more underperforming panels tend to drag the entire array down to the weakest link.

Our solution for the main building cluster was to operate each panel independently using fifty of the 48 volt version of the GVB-8-WP (Boost) MPPT charge controllers. We chose the waterproof version to keep the dust, bugs, water, rats, and lizards out of the controller’s innards.

Each solar panel has a dedicated pair of 10 gauge wires running to the individual charge controllers which are strategically placed close to the battery banks. This configuration allows us to boost the voltage near the batteries and intrinsically compensate for any voltage drop losses in our wire runs, some of which are substantial. The system feeds a 6000 W true sine wave inverter which feeds a conventional breaker box.

From our research with this installation, we have discovered that if we watch what we are doing, we can run two air conditioners 24/7.  When the batteries are mostly fully charged this is an interesting area of exploration. Basically, if you do not wait until the mass of the building is heat soaked, you can keep the relative humidity down and the temperature more moderate by keeping the two 1300 W air conditioners running most of the time. 

Our dream is to have strategic building with significant power potential on their roof systems that permit us to pump huge amounts of water up on top of surrounding hills.  The water will go into storage tanks and our NLI water purification system, in fully automated mode will create an abundance of clean, safe disinfected water flowing by gravity to wherever it is needed. Extra power will pump extra water to the tops of hills into fish ponds. Yes, you pictured that right, fish ponds on top of high elevation hills. From the fish ponds, nutrient rich water will be used for permaculture irrigation to produce nutritious food on otherwise wasteland. Terraces will be used to capture both carbon and water into a sustainable ecosystem.

We have perfected the building of three fish ponds and are working on a fourth on semi-flat land. We are stocking the ponds with a vegetarian species of fish that can eat a wide variety of plants. With this experience, as funding permits we aspire to take on the hills and tackle the more difficult tasks of building tanks and infrastructure on hills where vehicles can not go. We believe we have stumbled onto something. Drinking water should never be a dangerous activity.  Meanwhile we are using the SB3024DIL to power individual water purification systems for up to 1000 people and to provide backup to our automation systems. We are also looking to use them to power critical poultry and fish infrastructure.

No one has to go hungry, yet it happens every day. People who are sick and lacking basic income for subsistence are opportunity poor; as a result, they are backed into making poor decisions daily. What do we say to the sick, thirsty, and hungry? How can we turn our eyes and ears away from someone who is asking us for their life?

We want to thank the folks of Sunforge (Genasun and Blue Sky Energy) for your ongoing support in helping New Life International and the people we serve.

Blessings

Duvon McGuire
New Life International”

 

Sunforge looks forward to supporting New Life International again with their next water purification project in Ecuador!