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BASIC UTILITY VEHICLE (BUV)

Residents of rural developing countries spend up to three hours daily hauling water, produce and building materials over rutted roads. An inexpensive basic utility vehicle (BUV) designed and built by Purdue students will ease this transportation challenge, leaving time for other important economic pursuits by the residents.

The multipurpose vehicle, the result of a partnership formed in 2009 between Purdue's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and the African Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (ACREST), in Cameroon, is made from materials that are readily and affordably available in Africa and is easily manufactured.

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STUDENTS AT THE WHEEL

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ArrowThe original BUV, made mostly of wood, was designed and built by students in a senior design course working with John Lumkes, professor of agricultural and biological engineering. Students in subsequent design courses have continued the project.

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John Lumkes, right, professor of agricultural and biological engineering, advises students who designed and built an inexpensive basic utility vehicle in partnership with the African Centre for Renewable Energy and Technology.

 
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ON SITE IN AFRICA

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In May, six students travelled to Bangang, Cameroon, to produce a three-wheel BUV based on designs developed during the 2011-12 academic year. They were accompanied by Klein Ileleji, associate professor of agriculture and biological engineering.

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PERFECTING THE PLAN

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The new, refined prototype features more angle iron and car driveline parts, which can be recycled from a junkyard. Other notable changes include adding a front strut to allow for braking on all three wheels and front suspension, and a 5-speed transmission with reverse.

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WINNING DESIGN

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The BUV has been designed and simulated using 3-D modeling software and tested extensively in the field. The team won the 2012 Institute for Affordable Transportation Student Design Competition, running the vehicle for more than 10 hours and 60 miles while carrying 110 gallons of water and two people.

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THE CONCEPT

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The three-wheel BUV is the size of a small car, but is one-half the weight and carries several times the payload of small pickups.

Powered by a 10-horsepower diesel engine easily available in Africa, the BUV has a top speed of about 25 mph and achieves about 50 mpg. The all-terrain vehicle can travel on rural unimproved roads or cross-country and can carry at least eight passengers and up to 2,000 pounds.

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AFFORDABILITY IS KEY

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The original goal of the project was to keep costs around $1,500, not including the engine. The changes implemented this year have reduced the cost to about $800. Small diesel engines are available locally in Cameroon for $500. The BUV is not only significantly cheaper, but it's also easier to build, Lumkes says.

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NEXT STEPS

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Once a design that meets the needs of the local people is realized, the Purdue team hopes to set up a business plan and a micro factory layout that can be replicated in other locations, allowing a greater number of people across the region to have access to affordable transportation.

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BUV