D-Lab I Feasibility Studies in Energy, Agriculture, and Development: Projects 2018

For this course, we selected projects from international clients, local networks, and past projects. All of these projects present some sort of need to conduct a feasibility study on a proposed business plan, value proposition, or project solution idea. By the end of the course, students will have completed a series of labs, deliverables, and project analysis tools to complete their feasibility study for their client.

To see all past D-Lab Projects, see the Project Archive

1. Shark to Lionfish | TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Client: Institute of Marine Affairs

Problem: In both Trinidad and Tobago, shark is considered a delicacy and is heavily integrated into the diet. However, sharks have a slow reproductive rate, and the continued consumption of shark in these two islands has caused shark fishery to be an unsustainable practice. This has created a fragile marine ecosystem, in which shark is the apex predator. In addition, Trinidad and Tobago is now navigating negative opinions from the global community, seeing as shark protection is a major initiative of big conservation organizations.

Proposed Solution: In efforts to relieve the dependency on shark in these islands, the Institute of Marine Affairs would like to explore the feasibility of replacing shark with lionfish in major cultural dishes. Though it is consumed, its novelty has created a hindrance for the public to fully grasp onto it. Lionfish is a major invasive species negatively impacting the coral reefs in Tobago, and so fishing for lionfish instead of shark in these islands could tackle two socio-environmental issues at once. More research is needed about lionfish populations, consumption, and habitats. In addition, the Institute would like to look into how to best market this idea to make lionfish more familiar.

Project Report

2. Energy Services Company | Abidjan, COTE D’IVOIRE

Client: E-volution

Problem: In Cote D’Ivoire, though there are energy efficiency initiatives valued by the government and energy companies, these are only for public buildings and lighting. There lacks a prioritization of the private sector for energy efficiency projects. And overall, the growth in energy efficiency is occurring too slowly, to meet the energy demands of the public.

Proposed Solution: E-volution in collaboration with Power Africa and the Polytechnic Institute for Engineering would like to develop an energy services company to begin energy efficiency project development for different communities in Cote D’Ivoire and increase overall energy capacity. They would also like for the creation of this energy services company to inspire the development of an Energy Efficiency Department or Commission in the state government to centralize project efforts and allow for new policies to support energy efficiency expansion.

Project Report

Final Presentation

3. Waste Electric Station | Moroni, COMOROS

Client: Comoros Ministry of Environment

Problem: Comoros draws in a lot of tourists and visitors year round due to the beauty and biodiversity of the four islands. Though this is a strong economical contribution, it causes a huge waste issue. Waste is poorly managed and accumulates, threatening the beauty and environmental quality of the islands. This issue is perpetuated by the inability to find sites for landfills.

Proposed Solution: The Ministry of Environment in partnership with the Ministry of Energy proposes creating Comoros’ first waste-fueled electric station. These Ministries are very interested in the concept of biofuel, and hope to integrate waste as a fuel option for energy services. They hope to not only address the waste management issues, but also increase energy efficiency and generate income activities for the public. They need to know how to best begin developing a design and business plan for a waste-powered electric station, by looking into similar existing models and identifying necessary political, community, and financial stakeholders to further support this project.

Project Report

Final Presentation

4. Poultry Farm | Kherlen, MONGOLIA

Client: Organic Uurag LLC

Problem: Mongolia currently relies primarily on livestock (sheep, goats, cows, horses, and camels) for its economic livelihood, as well as agricultural production. Traditionally, Mongolian culture does not involve the consumption of poultry in the everyday diet; however in modern times, poultry consumption has risen due to healthy diet practices in the country. There is an expressed need to begin incorporating poultry production and consumption in Mongolia, but there is a major lack of knowledge and resources to begin doing so.

Proposed Solution: Organic Uurag would like to begin their own poultry farm project on their land as the pioneer Mongolian poultry farmer. However, in order to do so, Organic Uurag needs to decide on the most appropriate model to execute their poultry farm project; that is, take a local community/cooperative approach, or rely on the private sector to develop the farm. Organic Uurag would like to explore these two options and select the one that will allow consumers to access fresh domestic products to decrease Mongolia’s reliance on foreign imports.

Project Report

Final Business Model

Final Presentation

5. Cassava-based Ethanol for Cookstove | Bumpeh, SIERRA LEONE

Client: Desert Water Project

Problem: Sierra Leone relies heavily on firewood for cooking and cookstove fuel. This creates a major energy issue in the country, seeing as this greatly depletes forest resources and poses to be an unsustainable energy source. In addition, firewood creates a health risk, primarily for women and children who spend their time in the kitchens. It also creates a security risk, seeing as women are put in dangerous conditions to collect and carry the firewood to their homes.

Proposed Solution: To ween off of firewood as the primary fuel for cookstoves in Sierra Leone, the Bo District Council proposes a clean cook stove that is fueled by either bamboo briquettes, or cassava-based ethanol. It has been found that cassava can be used as feedstock for ethanol production due to its high content of convertible starch. Cassava is also drought and flood resistant, which makes it a much more sustainable option seeing as cooking is often slowed when firewood gets wet during the rainy season. The Council would like to investigate prior art of using cassava-based ethanol and ensure it is the best alternative fuel source for their cookstoves, and then develop a plan for involving the womens farmers cooperatives with the local government to begin farming cassava.

The Bo District Council would also like to explore the possibility of using bamboo briquettes as an alternative energy source for cookstoves in Sierra Leone. It is a promising idea, seeing as it can grow in harsh conditions such as on hillsides for flood control, in areas that were previously mined, rocky terrain, and steep slopes. It can help the major issue of deforestation in the area while providing a cleaner energy source that does not pollute as much. The Council would like to see how this project could involve youth engagement and education in the production of bamboo briquettes as well.

Project Report

Final Presentation

6. Innovation Maker Space | Woodland, CALIFORNIA

Client: Yolo County Food Bank

Problem: The YCFB brings in and distributes 4.25M pounds of food every year to those in the area who suffer from food insecurity. However, only 1.25M pounds of the collection is fresh produce, making most of the collection of marginal nutritional value. In addition, YCFB hopes to engage more with the community relying on their food collection, to connect nutritional education, food justice, and social equity.

Proposed Idea: The YCFB proposes an innovation makerspace to be developed at their headquarters. This makerspace would allow for aspiring food entrepreneurs to receive exposure to the food supply process, recipe development, nutrition, etc. The YCFB needs to figure out how to fully realize this idea while simultaneously addressing their inability to handle all the food that is donated to them. They would also like to connect with other makerspaces or similar businesses for prior art.

Project Report

Final Presentation