Interactive Socio-Technical Practicum

A New Perspective on Domestic Heating in Mandi

Students: Vadluri Vivek, IIT; Shailesh Meena, IIT; Thomas Brown IV, WPI; Karina Larson, WPI; Christopher Salomone, WPI; Nicolette Vere, WPI.
Advisors: Dr. Satvasheel Powar, IIT;Dr. Dhiraj Patil, IIT; Professor Fabio Carrera, WPI; Professor Svetlana Nikitina, WPI.

Rural villages in the Mandi District lack effective methods to heat homes during the winter. Throughout this project we evaluated current heating techniques and conducted preliminary tests of a new heating method utilizing packed bed thermal energy storage technology. Through our research, we determined that packed bed technology is not the solution to heating in the Mandi District; however, it could be applicable farther north in India. We recommended investigating alternative heating technology for the Mandi District that reduces the negative environmental and health effects of the region’s current methods.

Project Outcomes

The completion of building our proof-of-concept packed bed and social interviews revealed a variety of recommendations that are vital for the future of this project. If the development of a packed bed heater continues, the following information must be kept in mind.

The current cost of packed bed Technology, as we designed it, is too high for homeowners in the Mandi district. The survey of the people who live in villages near IIT Kamand revealed that space heating is not required to live throughout the winter in this climate. Despite not necessarily needing this technology, a majority of families did specifically mention that they would be open to considering an improved form of heating in addition to their current use of blankets. The only stipulation would be that the improved technology must cost less than what they currently use. While this might be extreme, in order for a heating technology to be feasible in this region, it should be as cheap as a blanket. Even if our concept was adjusted for realistic use, for example, using a chulha instead of a water heater and a water syphon instead of a pump, the cost of the overall system would decrease but still remain too high for the target homes. Our recommenda- tion for the high cost of the packed bed technology is to adjust the system and to use more common materials while also working to subsidize the cost of the heater by perhaps partnering with the Indian government to help this technology reach locations in need.

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