The Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) has approved the patent of a solar-powered backup system that if adopted is expected to reduce the high cost of electricity in the country.
The promoter of the system, which can generate up to 10MW and power light industries says it can reduce the cost of electricity by half since it does not run on fuel or hydropower. It is already in use by consumers in Meru. Filed on March 24, 2022, at KIPI, the machine is titled Solar Engine Power System and is registered under application number KE/P/2022/4203 (22).
Mr Jesse Muriithi, the inventor, says it took him over 15 years to come up with the system that uses magnetic energy to generate electricity. As Kenya races towards the adoption of clean energy in the transport and manufacturing sectors to cut environmental pollution from fossil fuels, Mr Muriithi says his invention might be what the world has been waiting for.
The mechanical engineer was found at his workshop in Nkubu, Imenti South where he offers cybercafé services and repairs computers, radios and TV sets besides installing solar systems.
“The system can generate electricity for use in homes and power vehicles as well as industrial operations, cutting the cost of production and transport by over 50 percent. After initial installation, it requires minimal maintenance,” he says. Mr Murithi says besides being used on cars, the system is ideal for industrial use. When switched on, the machine, which weighs about 200 kilogrammes, produces a humming sound lower than that of a blower used to dust computers.
So how does it run without fuel? The mechanical system operates just like that of a car that uses a battery only for starting the engine. When Mr Muriithi was in Form Three in 2007 at Mwiteria Day Secondary in Meru, he teamed up with a colleague and presented a project during a Science Congress themed “Use of Technology for Economic Growth”.
He made a simple system that could generate electricity without requiring solar or mechanical energy powered by fuel to run. Mr Muriithi sat his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination in 2008 and obtained a C+ grade which did not secure him a place at the university since the cut-off point then was a B+.
He undertook certificate and diploma courses in electrical and mechanical engineering and information technology (IT) at various technical colleges in Meru and Thika. The eye-opener came when the lover of physics and mathematics enrolled for an online computer science course at an Indian University in 2016.
“This is where I advanced my knowledge on the application of orient object programming, the technology used in making robots. I asked myself, ‘How can I use this technology to achieve infinity in the production of electricity?’ The answer came in the use of permanent magnetism,” he says.
Careful not to reveal the secret of his innovation, he explains that when the system starts with the aid of a battery-powered by solar energy, this power is disconnected and the magnets are able to generate electricity without the help of any other source of energy.
“When installed in a car, unlike electric cars that need the batteries to be recharged after travelling for some hours, this system will run infinitely,” Mr Murithi explains. “After the greenlight by KIPI I am now looking for investors. Locally the system has been adopted by some individuals but there are investors from abroad who are interested in the invention,” he adds.
For home use, Mr Murithi utilises a hybrid system where he installs a solar system and, using his innovation, converts direct current (DC) from the solar panels to alternating current (AC), providing a constant source of electricity.
When he made a presentation to Dr David Kiambi, the proprietor of a clinic in Mitunguu, Imenti South, the doctor was impressed and commissioned him to install the system.
Dr Kiambi says he has never regretted the decision. “After initial installation, the system is cost-effective because there is minimal maintenance. I don’t need to use diesel-powered generators and this has reduced the cost of electricity,” Dr Kiambi said in an interview at his home.
Mr Muriithi has teamed up with partners to help him achieve his dream of providing affordable and reliable energy. Mr Eric Gituma builds the hardware while Mr Allan Karani markets the system to prospective consumers and investors.
Others are Dr Samuel Muriuki and Mr David Muriuki (social scientists), Kirimi Ng’entu (legal adviser).