Clean tech leapfrogging cannot be achieved without researchers, geeks and innovators who are driven with passion to change the world by providing useful technology to easy life. Rwanda is also part of the speedy tech world, improving education and empowering young people to fuel innovation.
Bora Imani, a 22 year old college graduate has designed a prototype that will help water suppliers to improve their water payment recovery systems and be in control of water usage. Bora’s journey started in 2014 when he was still at Tumba College of Technology whereby he started working on the prototype software in 2015 and released the first version in 2016.
How does it work?
The prepaid water is designed with a sophisticated software that helps to load generated tokens, composed with a microprocessor supporting circuits and equipped with four censors. Normally, a mechanical water meter counts water and the air at the same time which might lead to a risk of overstating the water bill due to the pressure.
With the prepaid meter technology it is different, the first sensor checks whether it’s water coming or air and sends the info to the microprocessor to authorize the counting or not. The second sensor helps to measure water. The third sensor acts as a solenoid valve and it receives a microprocessor order to open or close the pipeline. The fourth sensor (usually called the tampering sensor) plays a key role for security, when an unauthorized person attempts to open the water meter, it warns the supplier.
Prepaid Water Meter Inside View
Uses off-grid power
The prepaid water meter is not on-grid dependent, it has got an internal water-powered generator which acts as the primary electricity supplier to the meter. This generator is a micro hydro-power generator that uses water passing in a pipeline to generate electricity and stores the extra in a battery. In addition, it has a small solar panel on top with a battery to store solar generated power.
"I can confirm that my prototype can be trusted and in 2016 I tested it during 6 months using three indicators such as water quantity in a tank, actual measurements, expected values and at the end results showcased 99% of accuracy", said Bora Imani
This technology is a great solution to the water suppliers in Rwanda but also for customers. Sometimes people complain about a higher than expected water bill and remain in confusion because the water supplier considers the number shown in the meter to generate the bill. Some of the benefits of this technology will be:
- The water supplier(s) will recover the loss cause by unpaid bills or theft done by customers
- Get water consumption real time data
- Easy leak identification
- Cut costs on water management & reinvest the money in projects to increase the number of people accessing clean water
Bora says that the research phase has ended and he is looking for ways to manufacture prototypes at a large scale to be able to satisfy the demand. although this requires more capital investment. His passion for innovating using electronics to provide solutions is surely promising and it's great to learn that there are still these types of innovative opportunities to explore and change the world.