2023 May 16

“SHE” – TUT’s remarkable Smart Home Energy project awarded funding

The Tshwane University of Technology’s Smart Home Energy (SHE), an international project with Makerere University (Uganda), Graz University of Technology (Austria) and the Institute of Mines Telecom (France) as well as University Carlos III de Madrid (Spain) as associated partner was recently awarded funding at a value of 0,6 million euros.

The project falls in the Long term Europe Africa Partnership on Renewable Energy (LEAP-RE) group, which includes Small Medium Enterprises (SME’s), one from South Africa and another from Austria (EKASI Energy and Carbon Compass) aims to develop a commercially viable heating product with charging and lighting capability, that will go beyond heating but generate multiple possibilities. It is estimated that 3,5 million South African households do not have access to modern energy, globally the figure sits at 0,8 billion people, making this an interesting opportunity for innovation for societal impact and the associated economic value chain exploitation.

The SHE device will be based on an existing portable micro-gasifier cookstove, which is used with compressed wood pellets, the currently available best performing cookstove regarding CO emissions. This basic stove concept for wood pellets was developed by Ekasi Energy, together with TU Graz using a combined experimental approach and extensive CFD analyses. In this project the innovative SHE concept is developed addressing the main barriers that hinder the broad implementation of this technology, i.e. lack of electricity production and limits in fuel flexibility. This is achieved by combining for the first time:

  • Expanding fuel options to biomass pellets made from available agricultural residues and perennial energy crops as affordable and readily available fuels and burning these fuels in a manner that meets WHO cooking standards respectively with extremely low emissions and high efficiency.
  • Integrating a thermoelectric generator to generate electricity and connecting it to a solar panel and battery to power small appliances and lamps grid-independently.
  • Integration of a smart low-tech method to track carbon-dioxide emissions based on a database of relevant fuels to monitor the heat and electricity generated by the SHE unit and an algorithm that correlates this with fuel and carbon-dioxide savings.