| Animal Powered Systems |
This booklet presents a collection of information on the oldest form of "renewable energy": draft animals and their use in animal powers.
The term "animal power" has deliberately been given a comprehensive, generic meaning that refers in general to all technical facilities employing the muscle power of animals for purposes other than soil tilling or transportation and haulage. Accordingly, this includes equipment which does not require the animal to move along a circular track.
The, so to speak, "classic" example of animal power - and the most familiar one in the field of development cooperation - is the "Persian Wheel", a traditional device for raising water. In developing countries, animal powers are also used for a variety of other purposes, most notably for the operation of mills and crushers.
Even in the so-called industrialized countries, the animal power once was practically the only source of mechanical energy, except water power, until the steam engine was invented. Its range of applications was accordingly wide. While that now offers the advantage of being able to rely on historical patterns for the design of new models, the historical background of animal-power technology may well be its own greatest source of reservations against its present-day propagation in developing countries: the stigma of "grandfather's technology".
By now, many historical applications have lost all practical significance - even in developing countries. Especially the heavy machines of preindustrial Europe have become technically obsolete and can no longer be used economically. If this booklet nevertheless includes illustrations of some of such machines, this has been done in an effort to clarify the structural principles and to serve as a well of ideas for "new" designs and applications.
Be that as it may, it would still be wrong to dismiss the animal power on the whole as "grandfather's technology". In rural areas of developing countries, where animal harnessing is still practiced, electric power is unavailable, fuel for engines is too expensive for numerous purposes, and maintenance facilities are rare, special-purpose animal powers can make good substitutes for or complements to mechanization by motorization.
Unfortunately, much of the information that would be of value in appraising such alternatives cannot yet be included in this booklet. The amount of practical experience gained to date in the field of animal-power technology is still too sparse to permit a comprehensive survey of all potentially interesting applications of the animal power and its respective performance data. Nor are we yet in a position to provide detailed instructions on design and construction.
The, no doubt, most irksome gap is the extensive lack of economic data on the initial and operating costs for animal-powered systems. Neither the historical sources nor the traditional applications studied to date in developing countries, nor the few isolated prototypes that have been installed in recent years have yielded enough information to allow any degree of generalization.
On the other hand, a lot of the information that is either already available or relatively easily accessible on the subject of animal powers has not been dealt with in this booklet, since it would have exceeded the agreed scope and have had a detrimental effect on the overall clarity. It is intended that a more detailed publication will be elaborated at some later date, when - it is hoped - more practical experience has been gathered.
Thus, we were faced with the problem of distilling information on a subject of vast historical, geographical and technical purview, without knowing the real information requirements of the readers and potential users of animal-powered systems. This fact, together with our prime intention of giving the reader an incentive to think over his own personal needs and then design his own adaptations to specific problems of application, has prompted us to give this booklet roughly the character of a - somewhat fragmentary - mosaic. General considerations that can also be applied to the revival of other "indigenous technologies of developing countries" have been included along with detailed profiles of various individual types of animal powers an a thesis-type summary of some generally valid characteristics of animal-power technology and the stumbling blocks to be anticipated with regard to the implementation of such systems.
The animal power is a technological approach that can be adapted to a wide variety of situations. The term also gives expression to the observation that innovations are always the result of long iterative processes, the success of which is decisively dependent on extensive communication. and feedback between the "supplier" and the "user" of any particular technology. Technological adaptation requires a "collective effort", from the first idea for a solution to a certain technical problem, over its final realization by way of intensive information gathering and the design and construction of prototypes, to its widespread practical application.
GATE, and in particular its "Question & Answer Service", see themselves as the partners of potential users of technology in processes of innovation involving development technologies that have not yet reached the marketing stage, namely technologies to which the usual patterns of adaptation through market mechanisms cannot be applied. This includes animal- power technology This booklet constitutes an invitation to the reader for an exchange of views on the extent to which animal-powered systems could be developed for his own specific purposes. The main target group are those readers who have both the means and the intention of trying animal powers for practical purposes. We are prepared to carry our own share of the burden by performing intensified research related to specific situations, helping in the calculation and design of prototypes, and assigning experts for temporary consulting and advisory functions.
That way, the user will gain a clearer perspective of the innovative risk, though we cannot and do not wish to take away the initiative and relieve the user of his own ultimate responsibility.