Jamaican entrepreneur Harlo Mayne is greeted by Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, Associate Vice President of Sustainable Energy at the University of Technology, Jamaica. Mayne showcased his H2-Flex innovation at the First International Conference and Exhibition on Hydrogen held at the university on November 3 to 4.
The conference was part of a research project conducted by the ACP Caribbean & Pacific Research Programme for Sustainable Development that aims to sustainably produce hydrogen fuel for household cooking. Jamaica is largely dependent on imported liquefied petroleum gas, wood, and charcoal for its cooking fuel, which negatively impacts the environment and threatens energy security.
Harlo Mayne’s exhibit, an economy car powered by a hydrogen generator called the H2-Flex, drew the most visitors from an audience that included technologists, local and overseas private and public sector representatives, and high school students from all over the island.
The H2-Flex, which won Mayne Jamaica’s top science award in 2014 and a Proof of Concept (PoC) prize from the World Bank, uses the chemical reaction of water and aluminum to generate enough power to run a two-ton car. A vehicle fitted with the invention can travel 300 miles without filling the gas tank or replenishing the aluminum canister, which is the generator’s main consumable element.
“The unit is almost ready for commercial development,” Mayne said of the latest prototype. “All that’s needed is some additional electronic components.”
Like Mayne, University of the West Indies lecturer Dr. Kert Edward was the winner of a PoC prize awarded in 2014 for a sustainable climate technology project. He presented data from his complete Fiber-Optic Solar Indoor Lighting (FOSIL) system prototype, including its layout specifications and potential consumer savings.
“We’ve designed a novel system that allows for active solar tracking with an inexpensive charged coupled device (DDC) camera mounted at the center of a dish,” he said. “Using an algorithm, the camera takes pictures of the sky throughout the day, always positioning the dish according to the point of maximum intensity, which is where the photovoltaic cells are most efficient.”
This FOSIL “smart” technology is so inexpensive that it can be used to retrofit fixed or semi-fixed systems that move their solar cell according to time of day or time of year, since no new calibration is required for collecting light energy.
Just this month, Dr. Edward was asked to collaborate with another PoC awardee, New Leaf Power’s Robert Wright, on proposals to refit and upgrade the solar cell units on the island and in the region using FOSIL technology. New Leaf had been in search of smart solution for maximizing sunlight, without success.
“We had maintained close contact with New Leaf, who are involved in alternate energy work,” Edward said. “It was a natural synergy with them, and we’re always trying to see how our work is interrelated and could be tied together.”
In a region where energy costs stand high atop the list of fixed production costs, this kind of breakthrough is expected to find favor with corporations and consumers alike.
“We want this system to find its way into places like schools and factories,” Edward said. “It will pay for itself within two to three years.”