Our story is one of the heart brought to life by science. It all began in 2011, we were involved in a project that would introduce tablets as a replacement to text books for children in schools across South Africa. We soon encountered the very real and hard reality that the majority of these children do not have access to electricity and would not be able to charge these devices…
We investigated the idea of using photovoltaics (that’s “solar”, for us laypeople) but soon had to discount it, because of the panel size required to provide any reliable functionality in all weather conditions. We also realised that it would be costly to set up and maintain, as well as not being particularly user-friendly.
While all of this had been going on, Allan Goldberg, our founder and the brains of the operation, had been playing around with thermoelectric power generating modules. Basically, these little guys harvest energy using the Seebeck effect.
The cogs really got turning when this thought sparked (no pun intended) into a question, an idea - could we produce enough useable electricity using the currently used heat sources of the off-grid community without modifying said heat sources?
That’s when Al decided to approach Paul van Lingen with his idea. Paul immediately suggested that we adapt a paraffin lamp to be the heat source.
After 18 prototypes and variations on the theme, we decided to design our own wick based burner as the heat losses incurred in the standard wick holder and chimney were too great to allow us to produce useable electricity.
Paul’s experience in control of combustion came into play and he produced a burner of exceptional quality which reduced emissions by 83%, and the soot from 40 mg/m3 down to 0.01 mg/m3. And thus iHarvey® was born!
This burner not only provided the sufficient amount of heat, due to the optimisation of the burn for heat, rather than a yellow flame for light as is standard in a normal paraffin lantern. The TEG structure and electronics were optimised to give us what we have today which is probably one of the most fuel-efficient power generators on the market.
In December 2012, prototypes were made to allow for testing and to prove to investors that this project could change the world. The design was well received, and the unit you see today is almost exactly the same as the original design, except for a few slight aesthetic changes.
iHarvey® is just the beginning and our promise to you is to never stop exploring and developing innovative and affordable ways to bring basic electricity and modern accessories to those who need it.
All round Mr. Big-Heart-Clever-Guy.
The brains and the heart behind iHarvey.
PAUL VAN LINGEN
Sorely missed but never forgotten.
Paul will live on forever through his work and dedication to iHarvey.
This lady is a professional organizer. She's the reason everything runs super smooth.
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