A plastic “energy flower” that collects solar and wind energy that can then be used to power appliances in the home for free has won a Northumbria University student a top award.

Paul Richardson, a third year design student, won a £1,750 Design International Attachment Award from the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).

Paul’s award will give him the chance to work with DCA International to research and develop his interest in design.

Paul said: “The Energy Flower can be placed in the garden where light sensors track the sun during the day and wind energy is collected via spinning rings. When fully charged, the flower is “harvested”, cleaned and placed in the base station where an electrical appliance can be plugged in. As the power runs down, the flower and based unit “bloom”, turn bright red and the process of planting the flower can be repeated.”

Another winner from Northumbria is Design for Industry student Calum Armstrong who came up with an innovative and cost-effective idea to prevent scalds caused by bath water which is too hot. His creation –the Thermosplash – is a plug and float which changes colour according to the temperature of the bath water – blue for cold, red for too hot and green for okay. The float is buoyant on top of the water allowing the user to see the colour clearly. It also acts as a safety valve, pulling the plug out of the water if the water level gets too high.

Northumbria swept the board at this year’s Design Awards, winning more prizes than any other university. The awards, which have been running for 75 years, include among their former winners Northumbria graduate Jonathon Ive – designer of the iMac.

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