The Richland Two Institute of Innovation InvenTeam invented a system of interlocking solar modules to power a photocopier for a school in Sare Bilaly, Senegal. The modules snap together and trickle charge two deep cycling pure gel 12-volt batteries. The photocopier can then be run using the batteries with a 2000 watt inverter. The module was designed using sustainable materials and locally accessible materials so it can be assembled, replicated, and repaired by the students of Sare Bilaly themselves. Each module consists of a 3 watt solar cell (12 V, 0.25 A) with a step-down transformer and two switches to route the current to an internal rechargeable battery pack, allowing the module to be used independently as a small study light or 5 volt USB charger that can last for one hour. When combined, the solar modules reach the power requirements to charge two 12-volt batteries in series to get the required 24V of DC power, which in turn are routed through the inverter to run the photocopier on the needed 220V AC. Each power module is made of Balsa wood but can easily be reproduced with available materials. The modular nature of the device ensures that the device has the ability to be stored indoors at night and can be modified if the power needs of the school change over time.
As technology advances, so does humanity’s dependence on energy; however, about 1 billion people around the world do no