LONDON, December 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
Cost effective and practical technologies could result in huge gains for developing nations as some of the UK's brightest minds rally to create sustainable domestic energy solutions
RS Components (RS) and Allied Electronics (Allied), the trading brands of Electrocomponents plc (LSE:ECM), the global distributor for engineers, and international development charity, Practical Action, teamed up this week to host the Power Hack challenge at Google's UK offices in London on the 9th and 10th December 2014. The two-day rapid prototyping hackathon was a major first step in a collaboration that aims to deliver affordable domestic energy via off grid power sources to poverty-stricken communities around the world.
(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20141212/720718-b )
The partnership between RS, Allied and Practical Action involved three teams of world-class design and engineering minds competing to create a simple off-grid power generation source for domestic use. Participants in the event included tech industry leaders Adrian Bowyer, founder of the open source RepRap project, Jude Pullen from Design Modelling, Matt Johnson, co-founder of Bare Conductive, Schneider Electric, TE Connectivity, Elektor and more. Using the newly updated suite of rapid prototyping tools from RS and Allied (DesignSpark Mechanical, DesignSpark PCB and the Toolbox App), the teams produced simple yet innovative solutions, all potentially viable to solve the power crisis in developing nations.
"You can feel the energy," said Jon Snow, Channel 4 newsreader and Practical Action supporter, who spent time with the engineers at Power Hack 2014. "If you stand in this room, with so many different disciplines, and so many engineers who've never met one another before, all powering together to produce a breakthrough on so many different fronts - it's bound to have an impact on life in the developing world."
Ortis Deley, of The Gadget Show, said of the partnership: "One in five people around the world have no access to electricity. So every opportunity where individuals and organisations come together to benefit those less fortunate is a great stride forward."
Using DesignSpark Mechanical 3D modeling software, the winning team, Team Maxwell, produced a Power Brick, dubbed the "Seebrick", which uses the Seebeck effect to generate electric power. The brick can be built into a cooking stove and takes advantage of waste heat from every day cooking but can also be built into home walls and use solar energy amplified by reflectors. The thermocouple bricks, consisting of clay, copper and iron, rely on temperature difference rather than heat, meaning they can also be used in cold climates where warmer interiors provide sufficient temperature step-up from the cold outdoors. Seebrick generates 2.5 Watts of power, and with just 6 bricks and 2 hours of cooking, three rooms can be lit with LEDs for a night. In addition to domestic power generation, this invention holds the potential to make an even greater impact: if a small village donated some of the electricity generated back to a local grid, the Seebricks could power a mobile phone base station to serve the community.
"The winning design was chosen because of its spectacular simplicity and because the automated manufacturing process was deliberately simplified via 3D Printing. We're happy that our rapid prototyping tools allowed Britain's brightest engineers to bring their ideas into reality in a way that will make a life-changing impact," said Mark Cundle, Head of Technical Marketing at RS Components.
"Simplicity and a well-considered manufacturing and distribution process are vital components of useful, appropriate solutions for challenging local environments." said Neil Noble, of Practical Action, who selected the winning design. "The most important factor for useful technologies is to make sure that when they fail that there is some way of repairing them."
Other prototypes included stunning improvements on IBM's recent work to re-use lithium ion batteries (laptop batteries) as energy storage devices, and a simple micro-electromagnetic generator built from common waste materials such as aluminium drink cans and plastic water bottles, which creates enough electricity for domestic power use via wind and water. The solution also featured improvements on Alfredo Moser's famous lightbulb invention by the addition of an LED light.
RS Components and Practical Action will now work to implement these powerful innovations to transform the quality of life in rural communities struggling with electricity and power challenges.
Notes to editors
Practical Action -http://bit.ly/12jVbGM
Practical Action uses technology to challenge poverty in developing countries. Their strength is in their approach. They find out what people are doing and help them to do it better. Through technology Practical Action enable poor communities to build on their skills and knowledge to produce sustainable and practical solutions, thus transforming their lives forever and protecting the world around them.
By doing this each year Practical Action help around a million people break out of the cycle of poverty…for good.
DesignSpark - http://bit.ly/1CxI9q1
DesignSpark is an online engineering community brought to you by RS Components. DesignSpark is committed to supporting engineers by giving them the tools and resources they need to design amazing things. DesignSpark's unique suite of rapid prototyping tools helps designers and electronics engineers get from concept to prototype faster and easier than ever before.
About RS Components
RS Components and Allied Electronics are the trading brands of Electrocomponents plc, the global distributor for engineers. With operations in 32 countries, we offer around 500,000 products through the internet, catalogues and at trade counters to over one million customers, shipping more than 44,000 parcels a day. Our products, sourced from 2,500 leading suppliers, include semiconductors, interconnect, passives and electromechanical, automation and control, electrical, test and measurement, tools and consumables.
Electrocomponents is listed on the London Stock Exchange and in the last financial year ended 31 March 2014 had revenues of £1.27bn.
For more information, please visit the website at http://bit.ly/1HRfk81
About Allied Electronics
Allied Electronics is a high service level, authorized distributor of industrial automation products, electronic components, and electromechanical products with 47 sales offices serving the United States, Mexico, and Canada. With more than three million parts online and more than 120,000 products featured in the Allied Catalog, engineers and purchasers often look to Allied for a broad range of product solutions from more than 300 world-class suppliers. Allied Electronics and RS Components are trading brands of Electrocomponents plc (LSE:ECM), the global distributor for engineers headquartered in Oxford, England.
For more information please visit http://bit.ly/12jVhhD
For more information contact
Tracy Wood - firstname.lastname@example.org / +44(0)7784-635391
Aakriti Kaushik, RS Components - email@example.com / +44(0)1865-207-546
Janice Fenton, Publitek - firstname.lastname@example.org / +44(0)1225-470-000
SOURCE RS Components and Allied Electronics