In the nearly four months that Meadows has worked on this project, Operation Outreach has made and donated more than 1600 fuel pucks and more than 700 fuel bricks. The volunteers produce about 60 pucks and 27 bricks per session twice a week. This has added up to more than 60,000 hours of fuel for the people of Afghanistan.
Capt. Brandon Newell, Expeditionary Energy Liaison Officer for Regional Command Southwest and a native of St. Amant, La., says this is the first type of large-scale solar hybrid project in Helmand to date.
“We’re not just trying to introduce something that’s sustainable into their community,” explained Newell who also holds an electrical engineering degree from Louisiana State University. “We’re taking something that they understand at a smaller level and trying to provide them an opportunity at a much larger, more centralized capability, which will be much more reliable.“
In the Lahor Dag School, classes have already started in the building with eager students sitting on the floor, even though the roof has not been finished.
“The children are excited, and as the construction gets closer to being finished it becomes more difficult to keep them away,” said Toliver. “They’re very hungry for knowledge.”
The system requires little to set up and is very efficient. The water purification system can filter water at a maximum rate of 60 gallons every minute.
Its ability to run with very little effort from the user makes the system simple. Because it is low maintenance and runs on solar energy, the only thing the user needs to do is change filters as they get dirty.
“The simplicity of the system makes this a great opportunity for these people to have clean water,” said McCormick. “The clean water will be rid of most of the bacteria and diseases it [typically] contains.”
More than 22 miles of roadway here and in surrounding communities are now fully lighted with 1,200 solar powered street lights, thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region District.
The third and final phase of the project was completed recently by project engineers at Al-Anbar Resident Office, based in Ramadi.