Student develops low-cost wind turbine for the developing world
August 21, 2008 A student from the University of Portsmouth in the UK has created a wind turbine made totally from recycled matter. Aimed at servicing the renewable energy needs of some of the word’s poorest countries, the low cost wind turbine is designed to be built by unskilled workers in less than a day anywhere in the world, using locally sourced scrap materials.
Product design student Max Robson’s turbine is designed to be affordable, sustainable and help those in the poorest nations. His prototype was built using scrap found on roadsides and in front gardens. It cost the 22 year old student just £20 (around USD$37) to build the prototype, but he says it would cost must less to construct in the developing world.
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Robson can’t take all the credit for his ingenious idea as his dad Ashley, who studied mechanical engineering at the University of Portsmouth 20 years ago, actually came up with the concept first. “My dad wanted to do something like this but I beat him to it,” said Max. “He had the idea of designing a scrap wind turbine but it was my idea to use it in the developing world.” Max’s motivation for creating the turbine was to build something worthwhile that is also environmentally friendly.
At just 1.8m wide, the turbine doesn’t take up a lot of space and the prototype can generate 11.3 watts. That power supply can charge a battery, which when fully charged can run lighting for 63 hours or a radio for around 30 hours. According to Max, “this isn’t going to change lives in the developing world dramatically but a device like this could make their lives a lot easier.” The nearest alternative wind turbine on the market costs £2,000 (around US$3700), which is a significant jump from his low-cost prototype. Max hopes to take his idea to aid organizations which help throughout the Third World to develop it further, and to travel and see first-hand conditions in some of the nations which would benefit from the design most.