WC: Electrifying toilet could soon power buildings
WASTE NOT WANT NOT WITH DMU STUDENT’S ELECTRICITY GENERATING INNOVATION. Tom Broadbent sitting with his HighDro Power innovation. A graduating industrial design student at Leicester’s De Montfort University (DMU) is hoping for award-winning success with his innovative design which transforms falling wastewater into electricity. DMU Industrial design student, Tom Broadbent’s money and energy-saving brainwave is called the HighDro Power and works by harnessing the energy from falling waste water in the soil pipes of high-rise buildings, converting it to electricity through an ingenious device. As well as having developed a potentially commercially viable product, Tom is waiting to hear whether he will win accolades from the Institute of Engineering Designers (IED) and the Dyson Awards. He is also entering the Kevin McCloud Green Heroes award to win the opportunity to show HighDro Power at the NEC’s Grand Designs Live show. The invention was developed in answer to targets set at the G8 Summit by governments to reduce their country’s carbon dioxide emissions and dependency on fossil fuels for energy production by 2050. In HighDro Power, the electricity can either
be utilised in the building to save £926-per-year for a seven-storey building or sold back to the national grid on a buy-back tariff. Tom, who is from Cropwell Butler, near Nottingham, said: “The inspiration for HighDro Power was literally a ‘Eureka!’ moment that came when I emptied a bath in a hotel and found that it cleared very quickly and with a large amount of force. It seemed logical that this energy should be harnessed in some way to create green electricity and help governments meet targets and it filled an obvious gap in the market.” To make a working prototype of the design, Tom used rapid prototyping techniques – laser sintering and CNC milling machinery – as well as vacuum forming. He sourced bearings, gears and other materials from companies supplying standard components. He added: “HighDro Power works by using the water discharged from appliances such as showers, toilets and sinks in high-rise apartments. The water goes down the pipe and hits four turbine blades that drive one generator. “The whole thing was influenced by traditional waterwheels to ensure that any solids passing through had limited effects on whether they could function.
” In the future, Tom hopes to take his innovation to the next stage by having it fitted to a building for testing. “I am currently a freelance designer but would love to work for James Dyson or a design team at a consultancy or company. My vision is to design products that actually benefit society in some way and get released on the market,” he said. Dr Guy Bingham, DMU Senior Lecturer for the Faculty of Art and Design and programme leader for the Industrial design course within the University’s Faculty of Art and Design, said: “Tom’s idea is truly an innovation in the area of energy micro-generation and the actual prototype is simply fantastic; I hope to see this go into production very soon. His work is a great example of what can be achieved from DMU’s design degrees.” During his second year, Tom’s EarPill was shortlisted for the RNID’s national competition to redesign earplugs so that they were more attractive and ‘cool’ to wear in clubs and bars. He also spent a placement year with Vauxhall Motors Ltd in Ellesmere Port. News from: De Montfort University dmu.ac.uk
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