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Worldchanger in Brazil: Jose Alano and DIY Solar Water Heaters
Amanda Reed, 11 May 10

This morning on my bike ride into work I noticed some solar water heaters on a roof of a house and I thought, "I wonder if I could do that to my house?" Lo and behold, once I got to work, I read about Jose Alano.

Eight years ago Jose Alano, a retired mechanic, was inspired by his growing collection of plastic water bottles and milk cartons and invented a simple, cheap, energy saving, do-it-yourself rooftop solar water heater. The Ecologist recently posted a great story about Jose Alano and his invention. Giovana Zilli reports that Alano’s idea

…came from the lack of recycling collection services in his small home town of Tubarão. Refusing to throw plastic bottle, carton and other recyclable waste into the landfill, José Alano soon realized he had a problem: a room full of rubbish.
Using his basic knowledge of solar water heating systems, he and his wife built an alternative version using 100 plastic bottles and 100 milk cartons. 'It worked perfectly well, and we got rid of our waste in a responsible way,' he says.

Since inventing the DIY solar water heater in 2002, Alano has been busy spreading the word in Brazil with workshops and lectures in community centers and schools. Local governments, media, state-owned and private electricity companies have also supported the spread of information on how to build the recycled solar heater. The result is that thousands of people have learned to make and install their own solar water heaters throughout Brazil. Exact numbers are not known, but Alano is quoted saying:

'More than 7,000 people are already benefitting from the solar heaters in Santa Catarina state alone. There are two cooperatives, one in Tubarão and other in Florianópolis, the last producing 437 solar heaters to be installed in council houses. In Paraná state, the number of solar heaters had reached 6,000 in 2008, thanks to the DIY leaflets and workshops that the governmental body SEMA organized there.'

The DIY leaflet he mentions above is available online as a PDF. It has a good selection of photos and diagrams describing the process to build your own solar water heater from bottles and cartons. The text is in Portugese, but if you need some English guidance, see Zilli’s article in The Ecologist; he outlines the basic process in English and makes reference to diagrams in the leaflet.

I like how Alano describes himself:

"I don't consider myself an inventor. I am just a citizen trying to find solutions to problems."
Spoken like a true worlchanger!

For more on Jose Alano and his DIY solar water heater, including pictures of installed water heaters, click here.

For more stories about DIY solar solutions, see the Worldchanging archives:
DIY Solar Solutions for the Developing World
Do It Yourself Solar: Energy for Construction and Reconstruction.
Solar Update 2005

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