A group of Loughborough University sports technology students have come together to develop a system that turns an ordinary bike into a clean, renewable energy source.
The brainchild of first year student Joe Porter, the concept of ‘PowerRide’ is to capture and store energy generated from cycling. This idea came from Joe’s interest in physics and natural energy and how they can be used to solve the global warming and energy crisis.
During the summer break before starting university Joe came across a competition called Exciting Engineering, which challenged new Loughborough students to create a two minute video about what they find exciting about engineering, or to put forward a product idea of their own.
“Having looked at previous winning videos I noticed that every single one had been about why that person loves engineering, and so for that reason I decided to be different and design a product,” Joe says.
“I sat in my garden with a beer and my sketchbook and came up with the idea of generating energy through cycling. I'd created an interest in natural energy after being inspired by watching some interesting documentaries about solar farms and unusual means of generating electricity. I studied economics so I had a good idea about financial implications of such huge energy creating projects and their limitations – such as the most effective locations for wind farms are usually on protected areas of outstanding natural beauty.
“So I thought of a solution to get around these issues by using a 'little and often' method. Everyone producing a little bit of energy would add up to a huge total and so I devised a system that effectively turns a bicycle into a clean renewable energy source.”
Joe may have entered the competition for a little bit of fun, but winning the top prize ended up opening lots of doors for the new undergrad. His idea caught the attention of Andy Harland, Director of the university’s Sports Technology Institute, who came onboard as a mentor, advising him to pursue his idea by creating a team.
Joe took his advice and formed Team PowerRide with a group of three other like-minded sports technology students. Together they refined the idea and entered another competition, this time to win a government grant for start-up businesses with ideas designed to increase physical activity in London.
After several competitive stages the team won, securing a £10,000 grant from the Sport Technology Innovation Fund to push the idea forward.
“Money is always the barrier to success for any start-up business, but this funding has really bypassed that whole difficult first struggle for us and has allowed us to open up our creativity without the restriction of finances,” Joe enthuses.
Now the hard work is really underway, as the team members begin work on a prototype, all while continuing their studies at Loughborough.
“We’ve split up the workload and have just started the technology proving stages,” Joe says. “There’s quite a long way to go before prototype 1.0, but it’s in the pipeline for sure. So for now we’re starting work on an experimental proof of concept and then it’s on to the exciting stuff of designing the product and refining the technology.
“With the drive from myself and my fantastic team, and the resources we have on campus, I feel the future is bright for PowerRide.”