A Better World With Clean Energy

The word energy is derived from Greek enérgeia, a word that was developed by Aristotle (384BC-322BC) to mean the capacity to do work. Thomas Young first introduced the word “Energy” to the world of physics in 1800 but it was apparently not popularized.  Finally, in 1905, Albert Einstein established the general equivalence of energy and mass with his theory of relativity paving the way for scientific use of the word “energy” today. For more on this history see here.

While the meaning of energy can be ambiguous, its impact is not. Humankind has lived a better life since our advancement in our use of energy. Some of the greatest shifts in human history happened thanks to the discovery of electricity, one form of energy. In the conceptual West, key figures such as Ben Franklin, Michael Faraday, and Thomas Edison made important contributions to our understanding and harnessing of electricity. Electricity in turn has powered innumerable inventions that have undoubtedly enabled new ways of living—computers, elevators, and maglev trains have respectively enhanced our computational intelligence, made possible taller and compact buildings, and made travel faster and more efficient.

While there is much consensus on the utility of energy, there isn’t nearly as much on how best to generate the energy. Energy comes in different forms. Often the form that the energy is in is not the form we want to use. This requires a process of energy conversion—informally called energy generation. (Energy cannot be created or destroyed, so the idea of energy generation simply implies making the energy available in the form we want, which is in this case is as electrical energy). For example, the energy of the battery of a phone is in the form of chemical energy and we have to convert it to electrical energy in order for it to be used to power the phone electronics. Unfortunately converting energy from one form (the source) to another results in energy losses and waste products.
Energy sources can be classified into renewable and non-renewable sources. Most of the non-renewable energy sources have disproportionately negative impact on the environment (They are called non-renewable because they cannot be replenished, at least not as fast as we’d like). It is estimated that major sources of energy are petroleum and natural gas, a thing of concern since these energy sources produce undesirable waste products. Renewable energy sources on the other hand produce much less waste—though not zero waste—than non-renewables. Non-renewable sources have powered much of the electricity revolution.

But why are non-renewables no longer desirable? Let’s discuss a few representative non-renewable energy sources. Coal and oil are two common energy sources. The burning of coal produces carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases), which contributes to global warming, a phenomenon of rising temperatures. Coal produces the highest amount of greenhouse gases per unit of energy produced. Oil and natural gas are cleaner than coal, but they too are very hazardous to the environment. Producing the oil creates air pollution; the toxins which are released in the atmosphere are dangerous for humans and ecosystem. The burning of oil and natural gas, like the burning of coal, also releases carbon dioxide. And the other disadvantage of oil is that the spills of oil can affect the surrounding environment. One of such incidents of oil spill is Exxon Valdez oil spill which occurred in Alaska in Mach 24, 1989, when an oil tanker owned by Exxon Shipping Company struck prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef and spilled 37,000 metric tonnes of crude oil. This incident did a lot of damage to the environment, including destroying some of the species that lived there.

An oil spill into water bodies affects animals
Cleaning up an oil spillage,

In general, most of the non-renewable sources of energy are very harmful to the environment. It is estimated that 7 million people die due to pollution each year. The continued use of non-renewable resources has effects on our health and our wellbeing.
But what are the alternatives? The alternative to these hazardous sources is clean energy sources, which includes renewable energy sources. The global community is now working towards replacing some of these non-renewable sources of energy with clean energy. The European Union was an early mover on clean energy. In 2009 they had ambitious energy and climate targets for 2020 (20% greenhouse gas emission reduction, 20% in renewable energy and 20% energy efficiency). Ten years later EU is still on track to achieve these ambitions.
But is this a reasonable, sustainable trajectory? The reasons for the continued incumbency of non-renewable energy sources are many and complex but include: they have traditionally been cheaper, they are readily available or can be cheaply made, and they have already been deployed making it harder to take them down just to install a newer system that does the same thing (i.e. produce electricity). However, in many instances these sources may have been cheaper due to government subsidies. The cost of producing electricity using non-renewable sources can be just as much as that of producing from renewables. This of course may depend on location—some places with a lot of water would naturally find it cheaper to produce electricity using that water than having to import natural gas. Solar and wind energy, where available, can be a sustainable source of energy both from an economic and environment point of view.

Generating electricity from moving wind is better for the environment than burning coal
While solar power can require a lot of land, it is also a cleaner form

KCHKNA is looking at producing energy from waste, a form of energy production that is still under-utilized. Every human settlement, and much more now than in times past, produces waste. Waste material is also an energy source, albeit less dense than for example coal. But waste is made available just by virtue (almost) of human beings being alive. This provides an endless source of energy that is available day and night, anywhere! From gasification to fermentation, KCHKNA aims to turn the energy stored in waste into other useful forms, without degrading the environment or human health. That to us is what renewable energy looks like; we fit right into an existing cycle without generating an extra bit of waste!

There is still a great need for electricity around the world. As of 2020, one in seven people still lack access to electricity and most of these people live in the developing world. These people perhaps do not care as much about clean energy as they do about energy, whatever the source. But clean energy need not be an afterthought, after unclean development. If we don’t pay the price now, we’ll pay the price in the future. Clean energy is good to the environment, and it saves the people from living in a harmful environment. So, whether one simply cares about Planet Earth for its own sake, or about the people living on it, generating energy from clean sources is the way to go. The most exciting bit is that as of 2020, most renewable energy sources are not as expensive as they were! And with more and more countries and organizations coming onboard we can expect economies of scale to kick in and make the question of economic feasibility a minor headache.

Small Steps Towards a Circular Economy
A $5.35 meal

At KCHKNA we realized at the very start that sustainability can not be an afterthought, an add-on we could throw in when we’re comfortable and our business model is solid. We realized that as we grow our responsibilities and stakeholder portfolio will do too. So, as we grow it will become increasingly harder to make changes. Many big organizations know what changes (with regards to the Environment, Sustainability, and Governance) they need to make but it may simply be too costly to implement. Smaller, younger organizations may think this (ESG) could come later when they mature, forgetting that this is the time to most easily imbue certain values into the modus operandi of the enterprise. One such value we take very seriously is aiming for closing the loop. That is why waste management is our first initiative. What is called waste is simply energy in another form, and if we can recover this using the appropriate technologies we can avoid or reduce the need for manufacturing endlessly and in an often unsustainable manner.

What is called waste is simply energy in another form

KCHKNA Inc.

The West (Europe and North America) and the East (Asia) have become superb at mass manufacturing. In fact, we think that while developing countries can make most of what the developed countries can, the developing countries cannot make the same items in an economically viable way. For example, there are people in Malawi who can make shoes–beautiful shoes!–but compared to the more automated, mass manufacturing plants in Thailand, China, Indonesia, India, etc. making shoes locally may often turn out to be an unwise investment. What lacks then is often not technical ability in general, but the ability to amplify one person’s skill. With technology, one woman’s skills are embedded into a tool which can then be used by the many unskilled. This is one of the magic wands behind the rapid development of most countries–the idea of outsourcing some of our labor to some machine (which can be non-physical, such as an algorithm) that can work much faster, more efficiently, and with fewer errors. That we very much love!

With technology, one woman’s skills are embedded into a tool which can then be used by the many unskilled.

KCHKNA Inc.

In fact this is what we aim to do at KCHKNA: To amplify human muscles (and minds). Instead of spending three hours washing clothes, you get your laundry done by an automated machine in 30 mins (6 times faster!) and all the while you could have been doing something else during that 30 mins.

Thus, the idea of embedding skills into tools gave birth to mass manufacturing–roughly the amplified ability to produce many more parts per unit time and labor than was previously possible. Yet, mass manufacturing has shown to be rather unsustainable in the long run. The fact that we can make things much faster has in some cases led to the creation of business models that are hard to live with. One industry where this is glaringly so is the single-use equipment industry.

By way of example, we show in the image a meal that cost about six Singaporean dollars (purchased 23 April 2020). The single use items include: food container, plastic carrier bag, fork and spoon, and the yogurt bottle. It is simply incredible that these items may have been made and shipped from quite far and yet still cost a tiny fraction of six dollars. But all this “labor” just so that one could use the single use items for perhaps 18 minutes and then they are thrown away. The companies that make these items are happy (our relatively educated guess) with this because they can mass manufacture a new set at a reasonable cost. But is the cost really reasonable if we think not just about the corporate balance sheet but the human scale environmental balance sheet? It may well appear less so.

At KCHKNA we are big believers in technology empowering people, and we aim to do just that. But we’re also big believers in business models where as far as possible very little of our resources go to waste. Sometimes, rather than thinking about recycling, we can rethink how we deploy our resources. For it is unwise to deliberately create waste, just so another person can have a business to take care of that waste. But it is equally important that as consumers we reduce our demand so that we can free these waste-producing businesses to do other things for humanity that may well be far more beneficial!

For it is unwise to deliberately create waste, just so another person can have a business to take care of that waste

KCHKNA Inc.
Why Innovative People Would Love Working at KCHKNA

Innovation and creativity is what has driven the world to where we are today. Almost everything we use, from our gadgets to the transportation means, was developed by someone who intended to solve a particular problem. Innovative and creative people see the world differently and they drive change in different aspects of life.
At KCHKNA Inc. we believe that innovation is a key way to enhance  human society. The last 150 years have been the most remarkable era in human history with life being made much simpler and convenient. This is thanks to unleashing the ability of people to think differently and create novel inventions. As a technology company our existence is way beyond maximizing profits; rather we aim to advance the lives of human beings. We believe the only way we can do this is by working collectively to find solutions to most of the problems that humankind is facing today.
And while we see problems in the world, we often think in terms of solutions! At KCHKNA Inc. we’re building a suite of products whose superclass is technology. Our methods might change but our mission need not.
We are certain that people who are creative, and are willing to innovate, can generate intellectually elegant and practical approaches to solving problems. We also believe that to innovate one does not necessarily require a high level of education. It is rather the ability to see things from a solution perceptive that we believe to be vital. And individuals with this psychological worldview are the ones who would be comfortable at the KCHKNA Inc. environment.

Working as a unit is key!

At KCHKNA Inc. we work hard and smart, but together. We allow people to express their views, and to pursue different hypotheses. We support our team members, giving each other honest feedback while encouraging each of us to truly aim for differentiation that empowers our community. We are convinced that the human brain—which we expect you to possess—is a truly incredible piece of hardware! The human brain has a great capacity to reason out and resolve a host of complex issues—our goal is to be an environment that bridges the gap between what is mentally possible and what we physically realize in our world. Here, we are celebrating our successes and failures acknowledging the reality that in any bold attempt we will either succeed or… learn. Either way, we are here to create a new narrative for mankind.

For jobs at KCHKNA email myjob@kchkna.com, or contact us by WhatsApp +265 881 79 41 48

Energy from Waste Plant in Mzuzu

Alt Title: WHY WE NEED A WASTE TO ENERGY POWER PLANT IN MALAWI

An example: Reppie waste to energy plant in Ethiopia is expected to produce 50 MWs

In 1870s electricity was on many people’s minds. It was used for magic tricks by creating sparks and shocks. In the West, one of the people who was captivated by electricity was Benjamin Franklin. He wanted to know more about electricity; he ended up noting similarities between the two lighting and electricity. In fact he showed that lighting is a form of electricity.

Later, more and more people saw the power of electricity. Nicola Tesla invented the alternating current (AC) which has since had a huge impact on the world. People like Thomas Edison also contributed greatly to the sector of electricity; Edison invented the light bulb as well as direct current. Ever since the discovery of alternating current (AC), electricity has been a basic need and we can’t live without electricity. To highlight the importance of electricity, in the US, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an Executive Order in 1936 called Rural Electrification Act which provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve isolated rural areas of the United States. By 1959, 90% of farm houses had been electrified, compared to only three percent in the 1930’s.
Electricity has simplified life and created a lot of possibilities in people’s lives. It has also enabled different industries that cannot survive without electricity. While the usefulness of electricity is nearly indisputable, questions remain about how best to produce electricity. Scientists all over the world are looking for different alternatives on how we can produce electricity in a cheaper way without or with little pollution for tour environment.

Now, on to Africa, where KCHKNA is into electricity generation. Among the many challenges we see Africa famous for, two stand out: lack of access to sufficient energy and a lack of proper waste management systems. The World Bank declared that 32 nations on the continent are in energy crisis. Energy in Africa is a much scarcer commodity than in the developed world, with more than 500 million people living without electricity.    

Malawi is one of the countries that are in energy crisis. Malawi is estimated to have a population of over 18 million and, according to the World Bank, only 11% of the population have access to electricity. This means only 1, 980, 000 people have access to electricity and the rest 16, 020, 000 have no access to electricity. This is like the developed world back in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s!

Mzuzu city, Malawi: growing,but powerless

Since the invention of electricity–or rather, it being used for more than magic tricks and small experiments, there have been a lot of innovations both in production as well as in distribution and management of the energy. One interesting way to produce electricity is to use waste, a byproduct of human activities. This is a readily available fuel that does not need to be minted, or bought! With the growing of cities in Malawi the lack of waste management systems has led to this potential energy literally going to waste. 

How it works

One way to recover energy from waste

A waste energy plant converts waste into electricity. One way is to directly burn the waste. The heat created is used to make steam which in turn drives a steam turbine. The turbine is connected to a generator, and through some natural laws, that generates electricity. To borrow a phrase, this is killing two birds with one stone: we can create livable cities by eliminating waste and producing energy!

These ideas are not new. From Singapore  to Ethiopia, these ideas have been implemented around the world. We are bringing this to Malawi. 

Malawi needs a waste to energy plant to solve these two problems. In Malawian cities there is a problem of waste; and, it is estimated that an average individual lives a minimum of six hours without electricity. And that is in the city! To state the obvious, this is affecting a lot of businesses and thus the economy of the country. The modern economy depends on electricity; for example, you cannot go digital on a large scale without electricity neither can factories keep running. 

By the way, it is somewhat a misnomer that we call it “waste to energy” plant; it is an energy to energy plant, because waste is just energy in another form. All we’re doing is converting one form of energy into another, just like solar cells convert light energy into electrical energy. In our case though, the energy source is ever-present.

The Team

We are a young team, but obviously youngness is meaningless without a vision. So herewith the visionaries behind KCHKNA.

Chancy Ng’oma

We believe in a culture of freedom, respect and collaboration, where each worker enjoys being with KCHKNA without feeling inferior because of some assigned title. We know that having titles like “Chief” does not make one a leader. While for the convenience of those outside KCHKNA we may call Chancy the Chief Operations Officer, inside he is just one passionate ninja doing his best to ensure operational seamlessness across the organization. He is responsible for the “strategy”, though obviously we don’t use that term.

Patson Lungu

Patson is behind the nitty-gritty of how KCHKNA interacts with clients, partners and the community. If he were in another organization they would call him the Chief Admin Officer, but inside he is a hunter; hunting for top engineers, mutually-beneficial partnerships, and other opportunities for KCHKNA to exploit.



Christopher Luwanga

Christopher can be thought of as a technology curator. He is on the lookout for “technology modules” from around the world that can be imported into the KCHKNA application structure. He then works with the team to find the means to get these modules implemented wherever KCHKNA needs to deliver!

Tech, Inc.

What is technology?
Imagine a pen and a piece of paper. In their absence you can only do so much mental arithmetic. But with just a pen and paper, and the right mathematical knowledge, you can abstractly manipulate a lot of numbers. If those numbers have a physical meaning, you could in fact be manipulating or studying an object from such an abstract level!
In this case we have the pen, the paper, and the mathematics as technologies! Technology can consist of a physical thing such as a pen and paper system, or could be more abstract such as mathematics and human language.

What a piece of paper and a pen do is that they extend the human mind. So, does human language. These are technologies.

Technology can obviously be far more complex than pen and paper. But the goal is often the same: it is to extend human capacity in some way. We have tools today that allow us to achieve efficiencies in how we do things as well as enlarge the scope of what we do.

Introducing KCHKNA

We are going to explain what we do using a piece of software code in an infamous programming language called C#.

using UnityEngine;

What we’re saying in the above code is that we want to use a set of modules packaged in UnityEngine. Our team did not build these modules, but with one single line we have access to years of many intelligent people’s hard work. It’s incredible!

At KCHKNA we are using many technology modules developed by others. Today, more than at any other time in human history we are able to stay abreast of what other people around the world are working on. We would like to leverage this!

public class KCHKNA: Technology
 {
     public Transform switchToTarget;
     // Start is called before the first frame update
     void Start()
     {
        startEngine();
      }

We are building a suite of products whose superclass is technology. Our methods for this will change, and we are OK with this, but our mission need not. Technology is an evidently very broad term, so we will start with specific applications such as the end-to-end waste management system being developed in Mzuzu, Malawi.

// Update method is called once per frame (year?)
void Update()
{
    if (Input.GetButtonDown("Outdated"))
    {
      Transform newTarget=
           GameObject.FindWithTag("Futuristic").transform;
       GetComponent<Follow>().target = newTarget;


    }

}

Your computing device, be it a phone or computer, has what is called a frame rate. This is the number of times it draws everything on the screen. When things are drawn very often (high frame rate) our eyes (well, brain) get the impression of continuity. In fact videos that you see are simply a lot of images that are shown in rapid succession, and thus appear to show motion.
In the above code, we are getting user input at a high frame rate. The analogy for KCHKNA is that we aim to update both our methods as well as our products in the coming years in response to our users and the technology landscape.

Wheew, making analogies is tricky! But hope you get the idea.

While we are technologists we also know that the point of technology is to advance mankind. So we think both about the technicalities of the technologies we develop as well as their implications for society.