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AT Activities

* The Porto Santo solar seawater desalination plant has proven its worth

* The equipment management cycle: A new tool for planning health care technical services

* Regional information service centre for South-East Asia on appropriate technology

* South-South dialogue: SIATA workshop in the GTZ



The Porto Santo solar seawater desalination plant has proven its worth

Berlin -A solar seawater desalination plant has been in operation for more than ten years now on the Portuguese Atlantic island of Porto Santo. It is the only solar-powered seawater desalination plant in Europe today.

The plant was set up as part of a joint research project between the Technical University of Berlin, the Portuguese Regional Civil Engineering Institute LREC (Laboratório Regional da Engenharia Civil) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) who commissioned the work. It consists of four 15 m2 basins each constructed to 50% along the lines of the tried and tested greenhouse procedure and 50% according to the procedure of the Interdisciplinary Project on Appropriate Technology (IPAT) developed at Berlin Technical University. The goal of the project was to compare the costs and performance of this newly developed plant with those of traditional desalination plants.

Solar seawater desalination plant on the Portuguese Atlantic island of Porto Santo.

The Portuguese side was able to contribute its own experience with greenhouse-type plants on the Capverde Islands, and participated in the construction and with personnel costs.

The greenhouse-type solar desalination plant was first developed by the Swedish engineer C. Wilson in 1872 in Las Salinas (Chile). The plant consists of basins filled with seawater and lined with a black foil which absorbs the suns rays. Each basin is covered with a light airtight glass roof construction.

The suns rays pierce the cover, warm the seawater and provide energy for evaporation. The moist warm air circulating above the seawater is cooled by the transparent cover. The resulting condensation is collected and directed into a container.

In Europe at the beginning of the 1960s, Prof. A. Delyannis of the Technical University of Athens used this procedure, when an American foundation financed the construction of this type of desalination plant on Greek islands. He developed a plant type which was used on Greek islands and abroad over an area of c. 30,000 m2. This design was chosen as a comparison.

The central idea of the IPAT procedure is to achieve a higher productivity per m2 of solar insolation by repeatedly using the condensation heat, based on traditional greenhouse procedures. The moist warm heat which forms over the seawater basins does not generate condensation on the transparent covers (double glazing) but is cooled with seawater via a heat exchanger. The heated seawater is then stored.

The heat store has the task of absorbing the incoming solar energy during the daytime and returning it to the condensation basin as warm seawater during the night. Warm moist air again forms over the basin and condensation can form a second time.

At the Porto Santo location the local mean solar insulation allowed an average productivity of 1.8 liters/m2/day. The mean productivity of the Porto Santo greenhouse plant over a one year period was 2.0 liters/m2/day. The IPAT plant was able to achieve 15-20% higher productivity after several modifications were made.

Since the completion of the research work in 1985, all basins have been operated along the greenhouse procedure. The plant has continuously supplied drinking water and operational water to an office and workshop building of the LREC institute. The building does not have any other source of water and no supply bottlenecks whatsoever have occured.

Since it began operations, the plant has been maintained by a member of the institute who does not have any technical background.

The materials used have withstood all weather conditions. This applies both to the aluminium and the glass fibre reinforced plastic profile of the various roof constructions. Sun, wind and sea air have only attacked the paint in places. Of the materials used to line the basins, the styropor matt in one basin is becoming very worn. The operator also complains that the basins are difficult to access for the yearly cleaning. Segmented covers would facilitate this process.

In addition to this desalination plant the research institute LREC has also developed a solar-roof distillator as a joint German-Portuguese project.

Having the form of a solar collector, it is able to satisfy the drinking water needs of one person. Tests and laboratory analyses have shown that this water can hold its own against bottled mineral water.

Work on solar seawater desalination on the Atlantic island of Porto Santo has shown that the greenhouse constructions only require low maintenance and servicing inputs. A 10-year lifetime is quite feasible, even when the plant is operated by non-skilled personnel.

Solar desalination technology is receding worldwide, because other desalination procedures are now available even for small plants which require lower investments, for example the reverse osmosis procedure. However calculations for these systems do not give full weight to the follow-on maintenance costs involved. It is also presumed that oil prices will remain at their low level in future. Should oil prices rise, opportunities for solar desalination will also improve.




- Manual on Solar Distillation of Saline Water, S. G. Talbert, J. A. Eibling, G. O. G. Löf, Research and Development Progress Report No. 546, 1970, Office of Saline Water, US Department of the Interior

- Solare Meerwasser-Entsalzung, V. Janisch, H. Drechsel, Veröffentlichung des Deutschen Zentrums für Entwicklungstechnologien GATE, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Vieweg Verlag, 1984

Volker Janisch


The equipment management cycle: A new tool for planning health care technical services

Stuttgart -Many health institutions and funding agencies have now acknowledged the importance of appropriate and well functioning equipment in health care. In order to reach this goal, however, a lot of obstacles still have to be removed. During the lifespan of each piece of equipment there are several crucial points where problems may occur which were not considered when the equipment was acquired.

Each common piece of equipment passes through a similar sequence of phases from the first moment it is considered necessary, through release of funds, ordering, shipping, training, use, maintenance and repair until it is finally sold or disposed of.

To visualize the life of medical equipment, FAKT, the Association for Appropriate Technologies, has drawn the Equipment Management Cycle, which is presented in the figure. The provision of technical installations to a health institution is seen as a chain or cycle of activities, each of which is of great importance. A breakdown in any link of the equipment cycle will result in problems with all activities in the subsequent links of the chain. All planning and actions undertaken earlier will also be affected. For effective management of resources like equipment, personnel and money, it is essential that these links or steps are known to all parties involved and are executed with care and competence. Any decision on acquiring technical equipment should be based on consideration of the relevant steps of the Equipment Management Cycle. However, it is possible to reorganize a project from every problematic step of the cycle.

Policy formulation is a key issue of the chain. Ideally the district health team or the local hospital administration should start the planning of technical health services with the formulation of a policy that is in accordance with regional health needs.


Equipment Management Cycle


Training of users and technicians, too, is not only an important step by itself, but one of the central activities that should be performed at every step of the Equipment Management Cycle. In order to symbolize their importance, they are put in the center of the figure. All parties involved need to be aware of the importance of all steps of equipment management and should know which is their particular part within the picture.

They should all receive training that increases their competence for decision making. Each step should be regularly monitored and evaluated. In meetings, medical, technical and management personnel can discuss the results of their efforts and thus enhance interdisciplinary cooperation.

Information related to the Equipment Management Cycle can be requested from the FAKT question-and-answer service. To facilitate the flow of current information, FAKT has started to develop a computer-based Equipment Management Information System, which is used as a tool to provide information for everybody working with the equipment management cycle. The current version contains information on equipment, suppliers, addresses and training media, to mention only a few examples. More details about spares, accessories and trade names will soon be entered into the computer or card index.



More detailed documentation can be obtained from:



Association for Appropriate Technologies

Gänsheidestrasse 43

D-70184 Stuttgart

Phone: +49 (0) 711-21095-0

Fax: +49 (0) 711-21095-55



Regional information service centre for South-East Asia on appropriate technology

Chiang Mai -ISAT, the Information Service on Appropriate Technology of GATE/GTZ has contributed to the development of resource information service centres for appropriate technology in a number of countries. The co-operation has mainly targeted non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and concentrated on building up structures for information and additional capacities for knowledge transfer.

ISAT, GATE/GTZ's Information Service on Appropriate Technology has contributed to the development of information service centres and regional cooperation. The latest regional centre is RISE-AT in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

In recent years ISAT has re-adjusted its approach from promoting local partnership towards regional co-operation. So far, this has resulted in setting up regional know-how transfer centres in East and West Africa, namely the "Regional Appropriate Technology Information Service", RATIS, and "Service Inter-Africain sur les Technologies Appropriées", SIATA, respectively.

The latest regional centre is the Regional Information Service Centre on Appropriate Technology (RISE-AT) in Indochina. The headquarter of RISE is Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

The concept of RISE-AT can be defined as follows: RISE-AT will be functioning as the main co-ordinating agency on a regional level for the purpose of safeguarding the sharing of information on selected technologies through regional network structures. In close co-operation with so-called "key" partners in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and South-China RISE-AT will primarily ensure the generation, preparation and dissemination of information on selected technologies.

For the initial period from April 95 -October 96 RISE-AT will make available information on selected appropriate technologies -for different users groups in a comprehensive format; it will initiate and ensure coordination among identified information sources at national and regional level and it intends to develop and apply effective means for the dissemination of information.

At present, the service centre will concentrate on solar energy applications, anaerobic fermentation and biogas utilisation, and sustainable agriculture, as well as low-cost housing and energy-saving construction techniques. Know-how and practical experience, derived from project implementation, is institutionalised and available on these subjects from the key partners of RISE-AT.

The main activities for the first phase of the project are related to the provision of information including documents, resources, and advisory services on appropriate technology. The preparation and organisation of seminars and workshops on selected subjects such as the utilisation of solar and biogas technology is being considered as another major activity.

The fact that the initiative for this project came from the Institute of Science and Technology, Research and Development (IST) of the University of Chiang Mai is linked to the current state of economic development in South-East Asia. Economic and technological development has progressed in the countries taking part in RISE-AT at an uneven pace, to differing levels of complexity. Thailand, with its fast economical development, is now in the position to provide technical assistance to neighbouring countries. Technical solutions in many fields are already available in Thailand and, because of similar cultural and environmental conditions within the Indo-Chinese region, these can easily be transferred and applied in other areas of the region.

IST, a national research institution, has accumulated a profound basis of knowledge in various technological fields including solar energy, biomass utilisation, rational use of energy and anaerobic waste water treatment. It already offers services on the basis of applied research and development, conducted on campus and elsewhere, designed for promotion and commercialisation in Thailand and increasingly bordering countries.

In a first step towards formulating a concept for RISE-AT, an orientation phase was carried out aimed at the assessment of relevant problems and needs regarding information demand and supply as well as at potential institutions regarding their willingness to cooperate. The study was conducted in the targeted countries. Beside governmental and non-governmental organisations, donor agencies and the private sector were also approached.

Summarised, the study came to the following conclusions:

- General information is often available, however, rarely directly applicable for intermediaries and end-users;

- Institutional facilities to manage available knowledge and experience are lacking;

- Existing information services mainly concentrate on literature searching;

- Specific "Question

- Information services are not based on a network structure and exchange mechanisms;

- A large number of institutions on national and regional level are interested and willing to join a network structure;

- Although technological levels differ widely between selected countries, their application among the target group of the rural and urban poor show similar conditions;

- Technology is generally promoted by a limited number of sector-oriented organisations; interdisciplinary exchange of information is often missing.

Beside renewable energy (solar and biomass) and anaerobic digestion and biogas utilisation, sustainable agriculture and low-cost housing and energy-saving construction techniques are areas where information is in great demand.


For more information please contact:

Regional Information Service Centre for South-East Asia on Appropriate Technology

Mr. Tien-ake Tiyapongpattana (IST)

Chiang Mai University P.O.Box 111

Chiang Mai 50.202


Tel: ++66 + 53 + 89 21 89

Fax: ++ 66 + 53 + 89 22 24



South-South dialogue: SIATA workshop in the GTZ

Eschborn -The third workshop of the official delegates of the South association SIATA was held at the GTZ in Eschborn, Germany in July 1995. SIATA Service Inter-Africain sur les Technologies Appropriées is supported by GATE and was established in Ouagadougou/Burkina Faso in December 1993. It has since become a contact and consultancy centre for African NGOs involved or interested in appropriate technologies and assistance to small projects.

SIATA is not just a documentation centre it considers its chief mission to be the professional networking of the c. 30 NGOs presently involved in the service, and to provide financial support to further an exchange of knowledge and experience. The two-week workshop at the GTZ also reviewed applications from NGOs for SIATA assistance for small-scale projects. Five of the 22 applications filed were rated as eligible for assistance.

Participants at the SIATA-GTZ-Workshop in July in Eschborn.

Photo: ISAT

The committee deciding on financial assistance consists of six NGO representatives from Senegal, Mali, Cameroon, Zaire and Burkina Faso and one member of GATE staff. Marie Savadogo, a former diplomat and lawyer who is now SIATA coordinator regrets the difficulties encountered in accessing members for coordination purposes. "But this a permanent feature of inner-African cooperation and has to be accepted." SIATAs journal ("Le Grenier") is therefore a vital communication vehicle. It is published twice yearly with a circulation of 1000 to 2000 copies. GATE financing for the journal is only assured until mid 1996, as is the financial support for SIATA itself. GATEs Rudolf Kiessling comments: "We are looking for sponsors to take on the financing provided to date from the BMZ budget." In the medium term, SIATA will not be able to finance its own operations by charging higher consultancy fees. The aim is to publicize SIATAs activities and the organization itself, so that in future it can earn income to cover part of its operating costs. Rudolf Kiesslings tip: "Next time you fly Air Afrique, spend your time reading Le Grenier instead of Le Monde its far more appropriate reading for travellers to Africa."