By MUSONDA MANGILASHI –
A power electrical student at Northern Technical College (NORTEC) in Ndola on the Copperbelt has invented a solar-powered electric vehicle.
Alexander Mulenga, 25, came up with the project based on the principle of solar energy.
Mulenga, who is a member and participant at the Junior Engineers Technicians and Scientists (JETS) Zambia since his 10th grade, derived the motivation to develop an electrical car after one participant made a model of an electrical car.
He then thought of coming up with an actual electric car.
The project has reached a testing phase that is getting parameters on how far it can go, what the speed is, the heating system, how many people it can carry and how much power is needed to charge the batteries under a certain period.
“What motivated me to come up with the project is what I have seen from the JETS Zambia. I have been a member and participant from grade ten up to now. So I have seen some models that are being made by students so last year we went to the national level as Copperbelt team and one of the participant made a model of an electrical car so we had a laugh about it and jokingly I said that next year we are coming with the actual electric car,” Mulenga said.
Mulenga said he started gathering materials from the scrap yard and did a lot of research and calculations on the type of motor and the type of battery.
He explained that after he gathered enough materials he started making the project from home in January last year.
“I started it in January last year and towards the end of last year coincidentally I discovered that NORTEC was running nearly the same programme so I joined the team to develop the car and there was an issue where I could wait for the vehicle to reach the wiring phase then I could participate as a student who is studying diploma in electrical so within that waiting period I went back home and continued making my own car until it got to a stage where I could just put batteries and run it.
In school I had a lot of advice and supervision from lecturers to just make sure that I am within the standards to be able to move this vehicle. From there we connected it and tested it,” he said.
He said he did a lot of research to ensure that even if it is scrap it should be in an acceptable standard and in the integrity of the engineering body.
So far he has spent about K15, 000 and was scouting for another K15, 000 to complete it.
He appealed to well wishers to help sponsor the project so that it could be completed.
“As it is, it is a model I think, it will cost another K15, 000 to just make sure that every electronic device is responding to the data that we are feeding it and it is able to perform.
I have spent about K15, 000. I offered my services to buy some products. For me to be able to buy electrical motor and the batteries I worked for someone for a year without getting paid then but we came to an agreement that within this period of time I will be able to access these products and because I am using scrap the cost is low if I was using the actual materials required the prices could have been much higher,” he said.
Mulenga, who last year could not sit for the first year examinations due to financial challenges, said the project was one way for him to try to raise money to enable him write the examination and proceed to second year of his course.
He is appealing for school sponsorship so that he could continue with his education.
Mulenga’s aspiration is to travel the world and experience engineering on another level.
He added that it is high time that Zambians started producing machines and stopped depending on importation.
“In the near future I want to travel the world, I want to experience engineering on another level because I have seen a huge margin between the engineering structure here in Africa and out there through the internet so I would love it if I could go out there and gain more knowledge and use that knowledge to develop Zambia and Africa at large,” he said.
Mulenga urged his fellow youths to take a step and lead into converting into pure energy.
He also urged them to be practical and be professional enough to be able to patent their project before someone else does it.
According to Mulenga, the internet can be beneficial to most youths who want to be innovative.
It’s purely electric and it does not depend on any form of fuel source so as Zambian youths it is very important that we take a stem and a lead into converting to pure energy.
“Apart from the ideas that we share as youths we should also try to impart practicability into our ideas, there are a lot of brilliant youths in Zambia that have great ideas so my encouragement is to be practical in whatever ideas you have be practical and you need to patent that product,” he said.