Hi everyone! We're now back on campus in Ettimadai. In less than two weeks, we'll be back in the cold Netherlands! What a weird thought.
We've left Wayanad for good (yes, there were tears) and have thus finished the practical part of the project. We would've wished for nothing more but to say that we have left behind a fully functional prototype, but that would be a lie. However, we think it is really close to being fully functional.
After our last update, we went back to the village and tried using the prototype, which now had a new coil and a rotameter. Unfortunately, the rotameter leaked at the entry as well as the exit. We first spent a day trying to fix it by tightening the connectors, however we soon realised that the connector and the pipe didn't fit perfectly and that it would always be leaking. Our only option was thus to cover the leak with m-seal. By the time the m-seal had hardened, we could try again (by now, we are a couple of days further), and this time, it appeared there was another leak at the entrance of the distillation unit. We covered this with m seal as well. We also experienced a few days on which there was no sun so we couldn't use the distillation unit on those days. In the end, we thought we'd fixed all the leaks and wanted to run a distillation before leaving, however, then it appeared the coil was also leaking at both the entrance and the exit. Unfortunately, it was too late by then to repair these leaks as well since our time in Wayanad was over.
We hope that Mahesh and Prithvi will go to the village soon and that they can repair these last leaks. Once the prototype works fully, experiments can be done properly since there is now a rotameter indicating the flow rate.
We left Wayanad on 13 January. It was sad saying goodbye to the host family we'd been living with for the past 6 weeks. They even gave us a dotti and a saree!
That weekend, we went to Parisons Tea Estate, the estate that was interested in buying our oil. We had talked to the general manager and his wife, who had purchased the oil last year and hoped to buy more on a regular basis. We decided they would be our first clients, and had initially planned to visit them in order to show them our product and talk to them about our project. Unfortunately, bringing them oil was not possible and we had to explain to them that it wouldn't be possible to sell them any oil within the next few months since the experiments hadn't been done yet. They were very understanding, and remain interested.
We had a really nice weekend on their wonderful estate, where we visited the tea factory, and did a safari in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Unfortunately, we didn't see any tigers, but we did see an elephant!
After this, we headed back to Ettimadai on 15 January. Here, we are working on the final report and preparing the presentation. Yesterday and today were public holidays, but tomorrow we will meet with Udaya to evaluate the whole project and see what still needs to be done. As for now it looks as though we'll finalise everything by the weekend so we can hopefully have a few days of holidays before we go back to the Netherlands next week Sunday!