Bright spark uses childhood hardship to light the way
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Durban - WHEN Sameer Khan was a boy, his family fell on hard times and they were forced to move to an informal settlement in Reservoir Hills with no electricity or water.
As he grew older, Khan and his brother, Ameer, got part-time jobs which helped them earn enough money to move out of the informal settlement.
They found a one-bedroom outbuilding in the same area and lived with their mother, Maimoonesha.
Khan matriculated from Reservoir Hills Secondary and achieved four distinctions. He received bursaries to study horticulture at the Durban University of Technology (DUT).
He graduated cum laude and, because of his achievement, DUT paid for his degree which he also passed cum laude. Khan went on to receive the Dean’s Merit award.
The 26-year-old is now working as a tutor at DUT and is pursuing his Master’s in applied science, biotechnology.
He has invented a device to help reduce the impact of power outages and help households that don’t have access to electricity.
The invention is called the Hydra Gen. It is a generator designed and developed using hydra power.
Khan plans on showcasing his invention at the South African Innovation Summit at the end of the month.
“The idea started during a lecture in 2014. I saw a pigeon fly up to the window and have a drink of water. I wondered where the water came from as it did not rain nor was there any form of window washing being done.
“After further investigation, I noticed that it was the building itself that was emitting water.”
Khan said, after five years of trial and error, he came up with a unique catch-and-release system to harvest and store the water and then release it to pass through a turbine.
“This, in return, charges the lithium-ion batteries and from our calculations, the system can power up 10-watt light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for about six hours.”
Khan said the system could be used in middle- and high-income residential properties, and commercial and industrial buildings.
“This system was designed to help alleviate the symptoms of load shedding, and it is an alternative to candles and torches. I currently own a complete patent on the design.
“Presently, the world is moving to more environmentally sound energy processing methods. The Hydra Gen is renewable and it is an efficient energy system.”
Khan said the invention would help students who were studying, especially those living in informal areas where they didn’t have access to electricity.
“My dad walked out on me, my mom and elder brother when I was 2. My mom could not get a job because she did not know how to read or write. We could not afford to pay the rent at the place we were staying and our landlord took our furniture before kicking us out.”
Khan, who is married to Sameera Wohabally, said that by the age of five they were living on the streets.
“My mom used to beg from house to house. We slept at a bus stop or outside the post office before moving to the informal settlement. I remember helping my mother to beg.”
Khan said he got his first job delivering newspapers at the weekend with his brother.
“My brother and I financed our home with the little we earned. At the age of 12, the owner of the delivery service passed on and we then managed to get a job with a decor and sound company.
“When I was 16, I was in a car accident that made me disabled. I lost my left, right and middle fingers. I took a year off from working to recover mentally and physically.”
Before attending university, Khan worked for an IT company.
“I know the hardships of not having something as simple as electricity. I am hoping I can get a sponsor to fund my invention.”
Khan’s brother and mom live with him. His mom is unemployed and his brother works for an importing company.