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Abstract

Energy is one of the most vital resources for the socioeconomic development of any community. Cameroon has the second greatest potential for hydroelectric production in sub-Saharan Africa; however, a mere 2.1% of that potential is developed, and less than 12% of Cameroonians have access to electricity. In the village of Bangang, there are four small hydropower projects in various stages of development. These have the potential to provide 300 kW of renewable energy to the local populace. Development of these hydropower systems has begun with two fully operational turbines, but the projected capacity has yet to be achieved. The current turbine efficiencies are substandard, resulting, in part, from the lack of exhaustive engineering design.

This research aims to evaluate the current systems and use the data to improve the existing Bangang community hydropower turbine designs. To reach this goal, an interdisciplinary undergraduate service-learning team collaborated with a community-based non-governmental organization (NGO) to design, test, and fabricate a cross-flow hydropower turbine with an estimated 150 kW capacity. The device was fabricated at Purdue University according to provincial constraints and tested under real-world conditions on location in Cameroon.

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