Students at Purdue have come up with a novel solution for African nations in need of cheap, locally-produced transportation: a multipurpose vehicle made primarily from that oh-so-familiar renewable resource, wood.
This “wood truck” Basic Utility Vehicle, or BUV–the latest in a number of interesting green designs being targeted specifically to rural Africa–was designed specifically to help meet the needs of rural villagers and to be produced from raw materials readily available and and affordable in Africa. The seniors in mechanical engineering at Purdue who created the vehicle are planning a trip on May 10th to the West African nation of Cameroon to aid in setting up a manufacturing facility for the BUV in a northern village near a forest.
Villagers in the area currently face the age-old dilemma of farmers everywhere: how to get their crops to market before they spoil. The BUV has a bed that operates like a miniature dump truck, making it easy to unload cargo; benches on the sides of the cargo bed can be used to carry people, and the sidewalls can be removed, creating a flatbed arrangement for hauling longer items (up to 1,200 pounds). The students built the vehicle for about $2,000, working in conjunction with the nonprofit African Centre for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technology, or ACREST, on the design and manufacturing parameters.
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