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Sustainable Energy Solutions for Irrigation and Harvesting in Developing Countries


Mehrotra, Prakhar (2013) Sustainable Energy Solutions for Irrigation and Harvesting in Developing Countries. Engineer's thesis, California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/KV5Y-4960.


One of the critical problems currently being faced by agriculture industry in developing nations is the alarming rate of groundwater depletion. Irrigation accounts for over 70% of the total groundwater withdrawn everyday. Compounding this issue is the use of polluting diesel generators to pump groundwater for irrigation. This has made irrigation not only the biggest consumer of groundwater but also one of the major contributors to green house gases. The aim of this thesis is to present a solution to the energy-water nexus. To make agriculture less dependent on fossil fuels, the use of a solar-powered Stirling engine as the power generator for on-farm energy needs is discussed. The Stirling cycle is revisited and practical and ideal Stirling cycles are compared. Based on agricultural needs and financial constraints faced by farmers in developing countries, the use of a Fresnel lens as a solar-concentrator and a Beta-type Stirling engine unit is suggested for sustainable power generation on the farms. To reduce the groundwater consumption and to make irrigation more sustainable, the conceptual idea of using a Stirling engine in drip irrigation is presented. To tackle the shortage of over 37 million tonnes of cold-storage in India, the idea of cost-effective solar-powered on-farm cold storage unit is discussed.

Item Type:Thesis (Engineer's thesis)
Subject Keywords:Sustainability, stirling engine, irrigation, renewable energy, agriculture, harvesting, developing countries
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Aeronautics
Awards:Dow Sustainability Innovation Challenge Award-SISCA. Ernest E. Sechler Memorial Award in Aeronautics, 2012.
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • McKeon, Beverley J.
Thesis Committee:
  • McKeon, Beverley J. (chair)
  • Hornung, Hans G.
  • Ravichandran, Guruswami
Defense Date:31 May 2013
Non-Caltech Author Email:prakharmehrotra (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT)UNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06112013-114509037
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7889
Deposited By: Prakhar Mehrotra
Deposited On:12 Jun 2013 18:49
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:02

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