Flow meter technology aids the dispensing of ethanol cooking fuel in Kenya
Nov 26 2020
Titan Enterprises’ flow meter technology is playing a vital role in supporting KOKO Networks (Nairobi, Kenya) deliver cheap, safe and clean cooking fuel into African homes.
Designed and built by KOKO Networks (“KOKO”), “KOKO Point” vending machines dispense liquid bioethanol to customers across Nairobi. Installed inside local shops, these clean fuel ATMs provide fuel in small quantities for daily cooking, and are part of an elegant solution to a widespread problem in African cities: how to get clean fuel for cooking into homes safely and affordably.
Across many African countries, where electricity connections are expensive and unreliable, and mains gas non-existent, the cooking fuel market is dominated by charcoal and paraffin, both of which emit toxic fumes and soot that contribute to the premature deaths of hundreds of thousands of people each year. Bioethanol (essentially industrial-grade alcohol) is an ultra-clean alternative that can be produced from a number of feedstocks. In East Africa it is a sustainable by-product of the local sugar industry. Until now, however, it has been difficult to package, transport and retail in a safe and cost-efficient way. By removing the need for single-use plastic bottles, KOKO’s model gets fuel to customers at about half the price of traditional distribution models, creating a scalable solution to the dirty fuels problem.
KOKO has installed around 700 KOKO Point Fuel ATMs in corner stores right across Nairobi, and is preparing to expand across the rest of Kenya from next year. There is already strong demand for this safe, clean cooking fuel; customers simply dock their reusable KOKO fuel bottles into the machine, and once at home, connect the bottle to KOKO-designed twin-hob stoves.
Neil Hannay, Business development manager at Titan Enterprises, commented: “A few years ago we were approached by KOKO to work with them on this life changing development for African families. KOKO required a highly reliable and inexpensive flow meter capable of precisely dispensing ethanol cooking fuel in small volumes.”
“As a result of our joint development, at the heart of each KOKO Point fuel ATM is a precision Pelton wheel turbine flowmeter that rotates freely on robust sapphire bearings and contains over-moulded magnets that are detected through the chamber wall by a Hall effect detector. The output from this turbine flow meter is a stream of NPN pulses that are directly interfaced with the electronic display. This combination of materials and technology ensures a long-life product with reliable operation throughout. Constructed from totally non-metallic wetted components and offering a flow range of up to 10 litres per minute, our turbine flow meters are helping transform the way that African families undertake their daily cooking tasks."
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