Solar thermal theoretical and practical workshop for high-school teachers and students at Mahlothova Secondary School, Umguza, Bulawayo
The National University of Science and Technology SOLTRAIN team continued with their schools outreach programme aimed at creating awareness about solar thermal technology and applications. This time the destination was Mahlothova Secondary School, located in Umguza District 45 km from Bulawayo on the Victoria Falls Highway. This was the team’s first visit to a school outside Bulawayo thanks to Gawain Badcock who volunteered to tow the Mobile Solar Training Unit, accompanied by Sam Stroupe, a student from Texas Tech University.
At the workshop the team managed to train 9 teachers and 239 students in three sessions. The first session focused on the theory behind solar thermal heating, covering various applications for solar thermal systems, preconditions for solar energy, utilization and solar resource, flat plate versus tubular collectors, materials and other components.
In the second session, participants were taken through the Mobile Solar Training Unit. Practical demonstrations on how the thermosiphon systems and active pump systems work were conducted. Space heating applications of solar thermal energy was also demonstrated through the radiator circuit of the trailer. The team also took the opportunity to explain functionality of the photovoltaic system on board.
The final session of the training sought to impart some practical skills to the participants in terms of making solar collectors using locally available resources. The team demonstrated the basics of soldering that is required during assembly and installation of solar water heating systems.
Fittingly, the training was concluded with a visit to a local vocational training centre as the team sought opportunities for broader collaboration within the field of solar thermal energy.