Aerial view of the Kadagaya campus (2019).
Kadagaya is developing a research centre for appropriate technology with the long-term goal of facilitating social change for the benefit of the entire biosphere. The long-term direction is inspired by the concepts of a resource-based economy. The Kadagaya campus is under development in Junin, Peru, and the research centre will be constructed alongside an experimental village that will act as a test bed for the developed technologies.

History[edit | edit source]

Kadagaya was founded in 2013 by two scientists, Vladimir Alzmara Guzman and Julie Glasscock, with research experience in physics, renewable energy, and materials. The campus land was purchased in 2014 and development of the initial infrastructure has been underway ever since. Housing and work spaces for the current residents and visitors have been constructed, along with basic infrastructure (roads and paths, electricity, water, sanitation, and internet). A microhydro power plant to provide electricity for the campus was constructed between 2015 and 2016.

Areas covered[edit | edit source]

Following the broadest definition of "technology", beyond machines and software, technology is considered as any tool that can be used to increase the efficiency of a necessary process. Kadagaya focuses on open-source technologies that facilitate self-sufficiency of small communities, reduce human labour, and increase quality of life. A priority is the simplification of technologies to a point where they are affordable and accessible to all. All technologies are developed holistically considering other relevant topics. The scope of the research at Kadagaya is very broad, including:

Key projects and collaborations[edit | edit source]

In the first stages of the project, the campus infrastructure is being designed and constructed. The projects are implemented by the permanent campus residents, in collaboration with locals from nearby communities who have provided much of the labour for the initial stages of the project. Additional expertise for technical projects is mainly provided by collaborators from local universities and colleagues from all over the world. In addition, human resources are provided by short-term volunteers and students. To date, the main active projects include construction of a gravitational vortex hydroelectric plant and various agricultural projects (food forest and moringa plantation). The designs and knowledge related to all developed technologies are openly available. The results are published in the scientific literature, along with more widespread distribution.

Gravitational vortex hydroelectric plant[edit | edit source]

The gravitational vortex hydroelectric plant (GVHP) is a relatively new low-head microhydropower technology. It was selected as it is cost effective, generates power all year round (24 hours a day), with no required storage, and is an appropriate technology for off-grid energy production in remote rural areas and can be constructed using the resources available in developing countries. Usually hydroelectric systems require a high head (drop in altitude) to produce sufficient electricity. For example, Pelton systems use a rapidly-rotating propeller fed by water falling from a waterfall or down a mountainside. Large-scale industrial hydroelectric plants need to build enormous dams to provide this head and control the water flow (which can be very damaging to the ecosystem). The vortex system is suitable for rivers with low head and high flow. The water is fed into a tank with a geometry that causes the water to rotate in a vortex, which spins a vertical axis turbine that harnesses the kinetic energy, while an attached generator converts it into electricity. In addition, it has a positive effect on the local ecosystem (the vortex aerates the water and allows the passing of fish in both directions), while all water is returned to the river where it continues with its natural flow rate.

The GVHP project at Kadagaya was started in 2015 and construction of the tank and channels was completed in June 2016. We spent the next few months constructing the first prototype turbine and we connected the first power to the house in August 2016. After six months of testing the system and the electrical control systems, we were achieving a power of around 3.5 kW. This was enough energy to run household appliances, such as the washing machine, freezer, computers, and internet, and most of the workshop tools. However, this was not enough power to pump water up the steep hill from the river or provide for future projects. Hence, we decided to install a much larger turbine designed to produce around 7.5 kW. During installation of this turbine, we began to encounter problems with the transmission of so much power and after a short time the gearbox failed due to the high torque applied by the turbine. We spent some time investigating gearbox options and found an exciting alternative: a magnetic planetary gearbox design that allows contact-free transmission, automatic overload protection, and requires little maintenance as it does not require lubrication. As this seemed to be a perfect solution for our needs, we invested some months doing complex mathematics and writing a code to design a small prototype magnetic gear to test the concept. Meanwhile, we intermittently ran the vortex with small turbine blades to limit the power and a temporary transmission system using rubber belts. We encountered challenges in constructing the large metal pieces for the gearbox as they required very precise machining. During installation and testing of the full-scale two-stage gearbox in early 2018 we discovered errors in the initial design. After several reiterations in the gearbox design with the help of an expert in field, we saw mixed results during testing. The magnetic gearbox research is on hold as of late 2019 and alternative transmission options are being evaluated.

Agricultural projects[edit | edit source]

The Kadagaya campus is located in a rural agricultural area of the high jungle (selva central) in the Amazon jungle. The expansion of traditional agriculture has resulted in widespread deforestation. Hence, the agricultural projects are focused on developing alternative sustainable methods to achieve soil regeneration, reforestation, viable income for the locals, and reduction of the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. About 1 ha of food forest has been planted, which contains around 50 different species, in addition to the existing forest. This area has the combined roles or providing food, habitat, micro-climate control, water hravesting, and soil improvement. A small experimental moringa plantation was begun in early 2019 as this highly nutritious and multi-use plant could be a viable crop for the region, while also tackling problems of malnutrition, and providing a source of food for animals. The agricultural projects are holistically integrated with animals and waste management areas.

Methane biodigester[edit | edit source]

In collaboration with La Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (Lima, Peru), a methane biodigester is being constructed for treating black water, grey water, and other waste streams. This system will provide methane for cooking, and solid and liquid fertilizer for the agricultural areas. Lab-scale experimental studies of the optimal bacteria and feedstock composition are being undetaken at the university, while the real-scale system is in construction at the Kadagaya campus.

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Contact details[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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Authors Julie Glasscock
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
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Created November 30, 2019 by Julie Glasscock
Modified March 2, 2022 by Page script
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