Students build solar-powered chargers for refugees

Two students from the University of Edinburgh have spent the summer in Greece installing solar-powered mobile phone charging units in refugee camps. 

Alexandros Angelopoulos and Sam Kellerhals, both second-year students of environmental science, developed the chargers using funding raised through a crowd-funding campaign.

The chargers, each of which cost £850 to build, generate enough electricity to charge 12 smartphones per hour and can run for ten hours every day.

Dubbed Project Elpis after the Greek goddess of hope, the undertaking raised £4000 on Indiegogo.

"War has torn apart families but Project Elpis aims to bring them back together and create a means of communication through solar power," said Angelopoulos.

The two students said they had been inspired to develop the technology after seeing pictures of refugees tampering with wires in street lights and crowding around a small number of plug sockets in attempts to charge phones.

"Project Elpis is a great example of a student-led project that makes a practical contribution to the emerging humanitarian crisis in the east Mediterranean,” said Professor James Smith, the University of Edinburgh's vice-principal international.

"Alex, Sam and colleagues are a credit to their university and, I hope, an inspiration to the broader university community."

Greek renewable technology company Entec participated in the project.

The students hope to secure additional funding that would allow them to build more devices and eventually offer the technology to other countries as well.

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