General References

One Hundred Innovations for Development, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-85, book, 80 pages, edited by Gillis Een and Sten Joste, 1988.

This is a collection of inventions and innovations submitted for consideration as worthy of international awards for their significance and value. Many of these inventions pertain to water, sanitation, agroprocessing and energy technologies. Each of the first fifty items has a one-page description and illustration, giving a sense of why the authors felt this was important. The last fifty items have only a name and contact address.

Some of these items are well-known, others are not. Some are based on years of field experience and carefully proven technology, while others have come out of student projects.

One of our favorites is “bullet tree planting”: “A mechanized tree-planting system based on ‘bullets’, which consist of rigid plastic plant pots made to narrow specifications. Each bullet is made of four identical pieces, which after planting are forced apart by the growing tree roots…. The seedlings in their bullets are injection planted with the aid of a manual planting” device, allowing rapid tree planting. This system is reportedly widely used in Canada.

Traditional Crafts of Persia, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-78, book, 304 pages, by Hans Wulff, 1966, MIT Press, out of print in 1985.

An inventory with photos of the traditional crafts and tools used. Major topics are metalworking, woodworking, building, ceramics, textiles, leather, and agriculture. Descriptive text. Among the most interesting items covered are: flour mills and rice hulling mills driven by wooden water wheels or vertical-axis windmills; the Qanat water supply system; and oil-seed milling.

People’s Workbook, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-76, book, 560 pages, by Robert Berold et. al., 1981.

A wonderfully-illustrated, large reference book/catalog, this is full of practical information for rural development in South Africa. Major subjects are small farming (crops, animals, tools, draft animal power), water supply, health, building construction, working in groups and legal rights. The book begins with a lengthy comic book story of the history of South Africa.

This is the most extensive book of its kind, and should be of interest in many developing countries.

Mini TechnologyAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-45, booklet, 76 pages, by B.R. Saubolle and Andreas Bachmann, 1978, UNICEF/Nepal, out of print.

“This booklet is based very largely on the experience of the author, who was born and bred in India. It gives mostly Indian solutions to problems encountered in an earlier age before the onrush of modernity. It tells how to cool a house without air-conditioning, how to chill beer without a refrigerator, how to produce gas for cooking and lighting where there is no town supply, a way to make crows trap themselves, several ways of getting hot water at no expense, and so on and so forth.” There are, in fact, four ways to cool food and yourself, four solar water heaters, an unusual solar dryer, several cookers and ovens, a self-closing water standpipe, some water filters, a one-person desk fan, a hand-held corn sheller, a fly trap, a fluorescent light insect trap, and an African bee hive.

Delightfully written and full of unusual devices that are otherwise largely undocumented.

Mini Technology IIAvailable in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-75, booklet, 68 pages, by Andreas Bachmann and B .R. Saubolle, 1983, UNICEF/Nepal, out of print.

A companion volume to the original Mini Technology, this one provides details on more devices and techniques. Included are a water-powered pestle hammer, wooden winnowing fan, fence post driver, techniques for killing rats and repelling mosquitoes, and more.

The Journal of the New Alchemists, volume 1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-79; volume 3, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-80; volumes 1-4 out of print.

The journals offer a sampling of the work of the New Alchemy Institute, an organization working with sophisticated appropriate technologies, primarily for temperate climates. The Institute also has a small farm in Costa Rica, at which some of its members spend part of each year. Each journal contains a mix of practical and theoretical articles, some of which are listed below.

Volume 4 (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-81, 148 pages) includes:

a) description of intensive vegetable gardening activities

b) solar algae ponds for aquaculture

c) experiments with semi-enclosed fish culture systems

d) cage culture of fish

e) the Ark—a “bioshelter” for Prince Edward Island

f) backyard solar greenhouse

g) “Return to the Feminist Principle”

Volume 5 (Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-82, 152 pages) includes:

a) New Alchemy sailwing windmill

b) Green Gulch sailwing windmill

c) Hydrowind development program (windgenerator using hydraulic fluid pumped to the base of the tower where it drives a generator)

d) intensive gardening—(mulches, bean pests, energy efficiency, earthworms) permanent agriculture

f) semi-enclosed aquatic ecosystems

g) small-scale trout farm

The Book of the New Alchemists, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-24, 174 pages, edited by Nancy Jack Todd, 1977, New Alchemy Institute, out of print.

A collection of articles on the work of the New Alchemy Institute on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This group carries out probably the most scientifically sophisticated work of any of the U.S.-based appropriate technology groups. The articles are about gardening and small-scale farming, aquaculture in small ponds, and “bioshelters” (primarily the Ark, a complex unit that combines passive solar heating, greenhouse food production, fish raising and human living quarters).

Twenty pages are devoted to strategies for ecological farming in Costa Rica, where some of the Institute members work part of the year. Most of these articles are reprinted from the earlier issues of the annual Journal of the New Alchemists (see review).

Pictorial Handbook of Technical Devices, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-50, book, 600 pages, by O. Schwarz and P. Grafstein, 1971, reprinted 1990.

This is an idea book with 5000 illustrations. Major sections are: machine technology, magnetic and electronics, light and optics, industrial processes, power generation, structural engineering, comfort heating and cooling, and measuring devices. Short descriptions are provided for some of the more complex devices. Materials used and exact dimensions are not given.

The Foxfire Books volume 1, Available in the AT Library. INDEX CODE MF 02-32.

The Foxfire Books document the daily lives and traditional tools and techniques of the mountain people of the eastern United States. Much of each volume is given to interviews and conversations with old-timers in the region. As an historical record, these books have proved immensely popular, selling over 1 million copies. Photos and drawings are abundant.

Because the books were written to record the history of these rural people, they do not attempt to point out where technical improvements can be made. For those who would like to use these as practical references, this is a considerable obstacle, made worse by the fact that most of these techniques have remained nearly unchanged for probably 150 years. Some of the contents of each:

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