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Nicholas commented on Makerspace and engineering teaching laboratory for youth


Your plan to expand the education available to the youth of Rwanda is very insightful. As you noted, it is absolutely vital to be able to train and educate a local workforce if any economic recovery is to work out in the long term. As such, a program to improve the quality and availability of local education is very important to the long term growth and development of a country.

One of the main challenges you cite is that of keeping the costs of the experiments in your curriculum low-cost. Your plan for substitution using other, cheaper equipment that can be repurposed is the right way to go. On the same note, reclaiming components from damaged equipment can also allow you to expand your options, and can provide an interesting and educational experience for students. Assembling parts into a functioning system is an extremely rewarding experience, one that would very much encourage continued interest in the science and engineering fields. This has the added benefit of very low cost – there are any number of projects that can be built from reclaimed materials, and when electronic equipment fails, it is usually due to a single component. That means that even if the original object doesn’t work at all, most of the parts that make it up would be perfectly fine.

On the same note, an important challenge for you is to encourage interest and participation in the curriculum. As I briefly mentioned earlier, hands-on work where students can see the results of their efforts and apply what they are learning in the classroom can be a great motivator. One of the most important factors in encouraging students to enter science and technology fields is their engagement in the work that is being done. If they can experience the curriculum, instead of just being taught it, it will foster interest and better learning.

I look forward to seeing how this idea grows,

Nicholas Sylvester


Have you considered expanding your idea to include organic wastes from agriculture as well? There are a number of services and potential applications for agricultural waste, and making this an addition potential revenue stream for your users may be a good expansion opportunity. It would also allow the disposal of damaged or otherwise unusable food products – due to spoilage, lack of demand, or other issues – that would otherwise go untouched. Business like biogas producers, large scale entoculture operations, and other organic waste processing businesses could use your platform to supply themselves. These business, especially as the scale up, need very large quantities of organic waste. The success of your app in assisting in the distribution of edible products could very well be mirrored in the distribution of what would otherwise unambiguously be waste material.

The question of logistics seems like one that your company should not deal with directly, at least not in this stage of implementation. As your platform and userbase expand, you could look into offering or facilitating logistical services, but at this time, you are more of a market platform, focused entirely on business customers, and these customers will, by and large, have their own logistical resources available to them. Since you are not servicing the consumer market, nor even the microbusiness market, logistical services can be set aside for now. The only thing you might want to include is basic information – location and distance for the products offered, and perhaps allow the seller or buyer to provide specific estimates on their own logistical capabilities.

I look forward to seeing how this idea and platform grows,

Nicholas Sylvester


Are you planning to sell the biogas raw, or do you intend to refine it before selling to your customers? Raw biogas is very inefficient, and a large part of it does not combust. Further, raw biogas includes some corrosive gases that can greatly reduce the lifespan of power generation equipment. Since you plan to sell it as a fuel product, running the biogas through a simple sulphide and CO2 scrubber system might be something to consider. This will produce a much purer methane gas, greatly increasing the efficiency and value of your fuel product.

How are you planning to distribute the gas? Do you intend to use pressurised gas canisters, or something different? Have you considered eventually adding the infrastructure to your digester plants to generate power on-site? It may be an option worth considering, depending on the output of your digesters and the potential difficulty of gas distribution. There can be quite a bit of overhead involved in the distribution of such a volatile product, and expanding your business plan vertically may be the best way to do things. Cutting out the distribution step would also make your business that much more environmentally friendly, which seems to be one of your overall goals. It would also strengthen the domestic power grid of your country, which would be very beneficial in the long run. As one of the previous commenters noted, much of the Caribbean is dependent on importing energy from overseas, and starting local methane power generation could improve the situation.

Many of the options available to you depend on the rate of gas production you’re seeing from your digester. What sort of production rate are you getting? You mentioned that processing began on September 1st, so you should be seeing a usable product by now. How is the digestion progressing?

I look forward to seeing how this idea progresses,

Nicholas Sylvester