Put a bunch of youths to work on challenging energy concepts, and what you get can be a pretty combustible mix.
In fact, one such combustion took place, quite aptly, at a BBQ pit. While attending a BBQ party two years ago, the idea of implementing thermal electric generators into BBQ pits to generate free electricity through the combustion process was conceived, said Teo Chun Ci, then aged 22.
He and group mates Tan Jian An and Kenneth Chiam went to work on the Electricity Generating Barbeque Pit. “It took the team 10 months to design, analyse, fabricate and test to prove the concept,” recalled Chun Ci who was part of Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Energy & Environment Centre.
Although most of the material can be purchased, the team had to research, calculate and verify that the typical BBQ pit generated sufficient heat energy to be converted to electricity. The current design can power two 10-watt incandescent bulbs or charge four smart phones simultaneously.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic was one of 19 schools participating at the Youth Energy Showcase last October. The showcase gave students the opportunity to push the boundaries of usable energy solutions and display their grasp of what was needed to optimise energy efficiency and conservation.
Closer to hearth and heart, Singapore Polytechnic showcased its Fall Detection System for the Elderly at Smart Home. The youths wanted a meaningful solution that would address both Singapore’s commitment to becoming more energy efficient and its need to support an ageing population.
“We were concerned about Singapore’s ageing population. When plans to make Singapore a smart nation were announced, we saw an opportunity to look after the well-being of the elderly through home automation. In the process, we realised that this could enhance energy efficiency as well,” explained Lin Tong Shen, 19.
The system would enhance the safety of the elderly at home. It would also optimise energy consumption by monitoring movement and audio patterns via a Passive Infra-Red sensor and an Ultra-Sonic sensor.
Over at team NUS, the youths found themselves quite literally in the hot seat with their invention. To improve energy conservation, their Seat Vacancy Detector System was designed to monitor the occupancy of seats in a room, based on the weight detected by a sensor unit. The system would then transmit information on human occupancy in the room. This would be shown on a centralised display, allowing the user to selectively power electrical appliances within the vicinity.
For something with a little more zip, a second team at Ngee Ann Polytechnic chose to focus on an exercise in zero emission. The Electric Go-Kart is propelled by an electric motor powered by batteries compared with its conventional engine-powered counterpart. Added safety features include remote power cut-off and emergency power cut-off.
“Getting the right design and size for the battery and the motor, while making sure the Go-Kart could perform well, was quite a challenge for us,” said Joshua Tan Jingming, 19.