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Designing Solar Three-Wheeler for Disable People
« on: February 18, 2012, 02:13:52 am »
Author : Md. Shahidul Islam, Zaheed Bin Rahman, Nafis Ahmad
International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 3, Issue 1, January-2012
ISSN 2229-5518
Download Full Paper : PDF

Abstract—Mobility of the physically disabled or crippled people is a great concern of the society. It is really difficult to realize the problems and sorrows of a physically disabled/crippled person who is partially or fully dependent on others or confining himself in a wheel chair with limited mobility. This paper provides idea of currently available three-wheelers for disabled people and proposes a new improved design of a solar powered three-wheeler suitable for countries like Bangladesh which is an under developed country with huge disabled/crippled people from war, accidents and diseases. This three-wheeler is operated by solar power and suitable for outdoor use. Solar power option enables the disabled people to use it at any place, even in remote areas where there is no electricity. A general survey had been conducted on disabled people using wheel chairs and manual three-wheelers and the opinions of the experts working with the disabled people are also taken in to consideration to identify the needs and requirement for designing the solar three-wheeler. The proposed solar three-wheeler is meant to match and exceed the conventional three-wheeler’s facilities with a more intelligent and efficient design. A solar panel to produce solar electricity, a battery system for preserving electric power, an efficient motor, cushion seat, all terrain tires are used for this solar three-wheeler. Due consideration and attention is given to better maneuverability, effective use of solar energy, biomechanics and comforts, increased suspensions, all terrain traffic ability, ease of use etc. while designing this solar three-wheeler for physically disabled people of  the country.

Index Terms— Design, Solar three-wheeler, Disabled people

1    INTRODUCTION                                                                      
A lot of difficulties and hassles involved with the mobility of the physically disabled people in the society. It has been observed that physically disabled people are basically using some assistive devices like, crutches, artificial limbs or legs etc. and manual wheel chairs or three-wheelers for their day-to-day movements. But, these wheel chairs or three-wheelers are crude or of inefficient in design; not very much suitable for outdoor use or common terrain in the country like Bangladesh. Undoubtedly these manual wheel chairs or the three-wheelers are the blessings for crippled people but in the question of humanity, it is just “to add insult to injury”. Because, commonly found manual wheel chair or three-wheeler has a basic problem that the occupant must use physical force to turn the wheels. This action is physically stressful, can result in muscle and joint pain and degradation, torn rotor cuffs, repetitive stress injury, and carpal tunnel syndrome; which causes secondary injury or further disability[3].

Again, Use of conventional energy sources and rapid devel-opment of the present world have some bad impacts on the surroundings and environment, like depleting limited energy resource, damage of ecosystem, environment pollution, global warming and so on. As a result, Designing for Environment (DFE) is the crying need of the time and it is very much necessary to develop environment friendly equipment or transport for better living, for better world.

Considering the overall prevailing situation, development of a solar three-wheeler for disabled people is a vital effort where solar energy and its advantages are taken into account. A solar three-wheeler could be a stand-alone system; it will be self-operated and independent in nature, using unending solar energy from the sun. It is powered by solar energy from attached solar panel at top, exposed to sunlight. It can take us off the grid; can be used in a place where there is no electricity.

The transport idea concerned here is a solar power operated three-wheeler with light structure of moderate height-width and weight, which suits to Bangladeshi terrain. Also due emphasis is given to biomechanics, comforts, safety etc. while designing the seat for the solar three-wheeler. These features give greater stability, better maneuver ability, better mobility and comforts over the available manual three-wheelers. In a sense, a solar three-wheeler can be the complete solution for the transportation of physically disabled people of the country. Use of available resources (for components such as pipes for chassis/body, wheels, bearing etc. from the local market) and simplicity in designing result cost economy. The battery used, motor and solar panels are also very much available in the markets. All these features make the solar three-wheeler a very cost effective and environment friendly transport for the daily use of the disabled people.

Since the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, a large number of people have become disabled and vulnerable to the country. The prevalence of disability is believed to be high for basic reasons relating to over population, extreme poverty, illiteracy, social security, lack of awareness of traffic rules and above all lack of medical/health care and services. By latest, the numbers of disabled people are increasing rapidly due to increasing rate of road accidents and other relevant diseases [1]. In the present social hardship, other family members often fail to pay proper attention and care to the disabled people. So, their lifestyle improvement and independency is very much important and urgent too.

Wheel chair   Three-wheeler
Length:97 cm   Length:145 cm
Width:56 cm   Width: 97 cm
Height:71 cm   Height: 86 cm
Rear Wheel Dia.:51 cm   Rear Wheel Dia. :68cm
Front wheel Dia.:15cm to 20cm   Front Wheel Dia.:68cm
Although disability is a major social and economic phenomenon in Bangladesh, there is very little reliable data available on this issue, especially in the absence of a comprehensive national survey on disabiled persons. Basing on some data collected by the prevailing NGOs and international organizations, it is commonly believed that almost 10% of the total populations of Bangladesh are disabled and 2.5% of which are crippled or physically disabled [2]. Presently available wheel chairs are basically for indoor use or short distance movement and the manual three-wheelers for outdoor use. But those are not very suitable for use and having lot of technical drawbacks.

The numbers of crippled/ disabled people are quite alarming but the numbers of wheel chair or three-wheeler users are not big and mostly found them in hospitals and residents, espe-cially in urban areas. It is revealed from the survey that the numbers of present wheel chair/three-wheeler users are neg-ligible in all over the country. It happens because the presently available wheel chairs or three-wheelers are manual and not very suitable for outdoors use or for the roads around the country. The roads even in the cities are not very smooth or there is no lane for wheel chairs/ three-wheelers. Most of the cases the roads are very rough and narrows with some other limitations. Commonly Bangladesh has plain land and roads in the villages are of rough condition where peoples are moving with their bicycles, rickshaws etc. City roads are better where people move by rickshaws, auto- rickshaws, busses, taxi-cabs, cars etc.

There are some NGOs like, Centre for Disability De-velopment (CDD), Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP) etc. working for the physically disabled people and producing some manual wheel chairs and three-wheelers, somehow suitable for outdoor use. But again the problems remain, as the users need to use the physical force to drive it. Photographs of the presently available wheelchairs and three-wheelers in Bangladesh are shown in Figure 1.

            (a) Wheelchair             (b) Three-wheeler        (c) Three-wheeler 
Figure 1. Different types of available wheelchair and three- wheelers

The common size and basic dimensions of the presently available wheel chairs and three-wheelers are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Basic dimensions of the presently available wheel chairs and three-wheelers

The main problems with the presently available three-wheelers are that these are manual, needs physical force to drive it; causes secondary injury such as upper extremity repetitive strain injuries, vibration exposure injuries, pressure ulcers, accidental injuries etc. There are lots of technical drawbacks of this manual three-wheeler too. However, the main drawbacks can be pointed as; crude or of inefficient design, biomechanics are not well considered, lack of safety measures, over weight and size, not suitable for outdoor use and no shed for protection to the user against adverse environment like sunshine, rain etc.


Scarcity of energy is a common problem in all over the globe due to lack of conventional energy sources. So, Eco-friendly renewable energy like solar power can be the alternative and solve the power problem to some extent. Availability of solar energy radiation is the most vital consideration for designing and development of a solar system or solar equip-ment at any location on the earth. Rated solar radiation power received by the earth surface is (global radiation flux) 1000 W/m² (AM 1.5, sun at about 48  from overhead position). Availability of solar energy radiation in all over the country is very much encouraging for developing a solar three-wheeler for disabled people in Bangladesh. The geo-location of Bangladesh is in favor of receiving highest amount of solar radiation round the year. It is situated between 20.30-26.38 degrees north latitude and 88.04 - 92.44 degrees east, which is an ideal location for solar energy utilization. Solar radiation mapping shows that the daily average solar radiation varies between 4-6.5 kWh/m². Maximum amount of radiation is available on the month of March-April and minimum on December-January [5].

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