Solar Flywheel Flour Mills in Mountain Regions

Ladakh, India

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Water-based flour mills are part of the Ladakhi culture. However, in recent years, the frequency of flood-related events has increased drastically due to change in climate and most of the traditional flour mills were washed away in such events. Even if restored, there are still unanswered questions about the sustainability of the water-based flour mills. The new technology has been conceptualized to support the traditional flour mill, by changing the driving source of the mill from water to solar and also acting as a power source. The solar PV based flour mills solve many problems, including risks related to flood and access to electricity in remote areas. Additionally, the unique flywheel technology in the system apart from being powered by solar energy will also be able to store energy when the mill is not in use for grinding purposes. The excess power generated by the Solar Flywheel Flour Mills can be utilized to electrify nearby community centres – which is a boon during the long winters in Leh Ladakh.

Flywheel technology

is superior in terms of its efficiency as it is mounted on low-friction bearings so that it does not lose as much energy to friction and air resistance. Reduces the wear and tear of the model itself ensuring a lifespan of over 10 years.

Flour mills

powered by conventional power are run on a high RPM which reduces nutritional value of flour as traditional mills produce slightly course flour.

Background of Project

Leh  Ladakh is one the most remote regions in India has been slowly facing changing climatic patterns which has caused destruction in the region (Cloudburst 2013). Water-based flour mills have become obsolete because of the changing course of water streams and timely unavailability of water. The solar flour mill with integrated flywheel technology is being piloted in the region as a climate resilient alternative.

The Project

The solar flywheel flour mill is being installed to provide the communities with an indigenous technology which also preserves the nutrient value of the flour, often lost in mills run on conventional power. This unique mill is also designed and installed to power the local community centre during the inaccessible winter months.

The Benefits

The flywheel technology of the mill is also superior in terms of efficiency and has the capability to store excess energy and release it during the peak demand hours. Coupled with this mill replacing the obsolete water flour mill, this is technology is best suited to the remote, inaccessible mountain regions, with plenty of scope for replication. There is a direct economic benefit to the women in the communities and this project also addresses issues of food security and rural energy access, issues that are crucial to adapt in such harsh living conditions.