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Appropriate Technology Engineering 305 class
Parabolic basket and tin can solar cooker. The objective of this project is to create a solar cooker out of local invasive species and waste materials. We want to create a device that can pasteurize water and be an alternative to the use of fossil fuels for cooking food. Our criteria for evaluating the appropriateness of technology are: use of local materials, efficiency, durability, ease of use, ease of construction, cost, impact on environment, impact on culture/lifestyle, education or expertise needed for construction.

Overall this was a successful project. We were able to meet our goal of pasteurizing water. The solar basket can pasteurize water in a quart container in about an hour with optimal conditions. If we were to make the solar basket version 2.0, here are some changes we would make: 1. double up the blackberry runners so that the ribs of the basket are stronger; 2. use another material instead of pampas grass because it causes lumps on the basket's surface, maybe something softer; 3. use all large can lids, of the shiniest quality; and 4.construct the rings that hold the parabolic shape out of a less flexible material than the aluminum and wire that we found.

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Hexayurt Project

The Hexayurt is a refugee shelter system that uses an approach based on "autonomous building" to provide not just a shelter, but a comprehensive family support unit which includes drinking water purification, composting toilets, fuel-efficient stoves and solar electric lighting.

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Street Party Table.jpg
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Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.

Oliver Wendell HolmesW
Kiva's straw bale greenhouse
An alternative or natural building involves a range of building systems and materials that place major emphasis on sustainability. Ways of achieving sustainability through natural building focus on durability and the use of minimally processed, plentiful or renewable resources, as well as those that, while recycled or salvaged, produce healthy living environments and maintain indoor air quality. Natural building tends to rely on human labor, more than technology. As Michael G. Smith observes, it depends on "local ecology, geology and climate; on the character of the particular building site, and on the needs and personalities of the builders and users."

The basis of natural building is the need to lessen the environmental impact of buildings and other supporting systems, without sacrificing comfort, health or aesthetics. To be more sustainable, natural building uses primarily abundantly available, renewable, reused or recycled materials. The use of rapidly renewable materials is increasingly a focus. In addition to relying on natural building materials, the emphasis on the architectural design is heightened. The orientation of a building, the utilization of local climate and site conditions, the emphasis on natural ventilation through design, fundamentally lessen operational costs and positively impact the environmental. Building compactly and minimizing the ecological footprint is common, as are on-site handling of energy acquisition, on-site water capture, alternate sewage treatment and water reuse.

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Engr305 Appropriate Technology Projects: Below are selected service learning projects from Engr305 Appropriate Technology, which is a course on appropriate technology at Humboldt State University taught by instructor Lonny Grafman.

CCAT Clay-straw slip wall

Clay-straw slip wall of CCAT's Greenshed  
CCAT clothes drying

Efficient clothes drying system for CCAT  
CCAT Cold Box

An energy efficient solution to a refrigerator  
CCAT Compost System

CCAT's comprehensive composting system  
CCAT greenhouse natural wall

An aesthetically pleasing natural earthen wall built by clay and straw slip methods  
CCAT greenshed cob wall

Cob wall of CCAT's Greenshed  
CCAT greenshed north wall

Cordwood and mortar wall of CCAT's Greenshed  
CCAT greenshed west wall

Clay-straw slip wall of CCAT's Greenshed  
CCAT greywater marsh (2008)

CCAT's Greywater Marsh 2008  
CCAT greywater marsh (current)

CCAT Greywater Marsh Continued  
CCAT interpretive wind turbine display

Demonstration wind turbine  
CCAT's living roof

Replacing CCAT's living roof  
CCAT MEOW 2012

Refurbishment of CCAT's Mobile Energy Operation Wagon  
CCAT natural concrete stain

Natural concrete stain  
CCAT natural paint project

Interior paints from natural ingredients  
CCAT natural wall construction

Earthen informational kiosk for CCAT  
CCAT pedal powered grain mill

Pedal powered grain mill for CCAT  
CCAT pedal powered TV

Updated version of CCAT pedal powered bicycle  
CCAT rainwater catchment system

CCAT's current rainwater catchment system  
CCAT Raised Garden Beds

Controlled beds of soil above toxic ground  
CCAT remediation zone

A stable slope for planting and attracting beneficial insects  
CCAT Retaining Wall

Retaining wall for slope erosion at CCAT  
CCAT rocket stove

CCAT's improved fuel rocket stove  
CCAT small rainwater catchment

Rainwater catchment for CCAT's cob bench roof  
CCAT's Vermicomposting Bin

CCAT's vermicomposting bin  
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