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Sun powered mobility

Solar powered mobility scooters could soon be on the streets thanks to the work of a student at The University of Nottingham. Matt Alvey, who is studying Architecture and Environmental Design, says the photovoltaic (solar electric) recharging system will turn the mobility vehicles truly green.

The project began when a company that manufactures secure storage sheds for the scooters approached the university about integrating solar power to recharge the vehicle. If Matt can find a solution it will overcome problems often associated with connecting mains power to the shed. This can prove costly as it requires a qualified electrician to do the work. It would also prevent the possibility of the charger overloading the owner’s mains electricity supply to their home. Matt says “the other big advantage is that it will generate electricity by a renewable means and therefore has no harmful emissions”.

Caroline Moore, Director of Securit GB, the Chesterfield based company that sells the storage sheds, says “We wanted a solar panel system that would reduce the electric costs for disabled users and cut costs on getting a power supply connected to the shed.”

Dr Mark Gillott, Co-Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Technology at the School of the Built Environment says "Increasingly more and more people are becoming aware of their own impact on the environment. Renewable energy technologies are becoming extremely popular with the general public and this project is one example of how demand for a green solution was sought by the consumer."

Shortly after the project began Loughborough based 50cycles brought along one of their electric bikes for testing. Scott Snaith from 50cycles says “there is a growing market for electric bikes and they want to find a way of making them 100% sustainable”. Matt is hoping he can use the same technology to charge the bikes.

Matt Alvey is in the 3rd year of his 4 year course and took on the project for his dissertation study module. He has set up a working prototype to test the proposed design and the results, so far, look promising.

Emma Thorne | alfa
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