Makerere has generated many innovations over the years. The latest is a diesel engine that has been made from locally available materials.
The one stroke engine was developed by Makerere University’s College of Engineering Art and Technology (CEDAT) in partnership with Kevoton Motion Engineering Limited (KMEL) and can be used for agricultural and construction activities. The engine can also be deployed for domestic applications such as in generators and water pumps.
Rogers Mubiru the lead innovator at KMEL said the diesel engine has one cylinder compared to an automobile engine which uses more cylinders. He added that this innovation was a step in the right direction as it will enable them to work towards developing similar automobile engines since they now have the formula.
For its build, locally made materials have been utilised. These include aluminum alloy, sand, and clay. Rogers adds that the engine is rust-resistant, self-lubricating and easily dissipates heat. The engine comprises different components such as an engine block, a water jacket for cooling purposes and a cylinder head.
As she launched the innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero the minister of science, technology and innovation said the government intends to make Uganda a hub for science.
She added that the biggest role of science was to use knowledge to harness nature in Uganda to make products that can be used for boosting the economy. She also said that students needed to be equipped with innovative, practical skills to strengthen the national workforce and should not just leave universities with degrees.
The creation is a milestone from Makerere’s Material Science and Nanotechnology Centre of Excellence. Similarly, the Centre and KMEL have developed an artisan manufacturing process that does part assembly, low-grade casting and engine development operationalization.
A diesel engine uses pistons to compress a mixture of diesel and oxygen. When the oxygen is compressed at a ratio of 15:1 an explosion occurs forcing the piston to move causing the reciprocating motion that gives rotary movement by the engine.
Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, Makerere university’s vice-chancellor was happy about the development but called on the government to support such innovations adding that local production would reduce the country’s imports. His sentiments were reiterated by Dr. Musenero who added that without funding, institutions become stuck with innovations.
She said that the college of engineering had so much potential and that it did not make sense for students to go out looking for jobs instead of focusing on innovation that can boost the economy and create more jobs.