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Hard work behind smart prototypes

Published: 30 May 2017

Developing smart products with sustainability in focus, that is what the project course Sustainable Living is about. This year's edition offered a portable car lift and a compactor for plastic waste.

Sustainable Living is a project course offered for third-year students in the MSc programmes in Sustainable Energy Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. There, students apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical case. In the B-house foyer, the students had prepared displays where they presented their solutions.

Portable lift tilts the car

– We have developed a portable car lift that can be stored in the luggage compartment of a regular car. It is easy to mount, can handle most surfaces, and you can lift the car at a 35 degree angle. This makes it possible to do most of the repair work that requires you to be under the car, says Marcus Eriksson, student at the MSc Programme in Mechanical Engineering at Luleå University of Technology.

The energy-efficient car Baldos, developed by LTU students in previous projects, was used to demonstrate the car lift. And it worked just as it was intended (see the slide show above).

– We learned a lot in the course, for instance how to work effectively in a group. Knowledge which we gained in the first and second year, could now be applied in our project. It was fun to work with something practical and to draw in CAD programs, says Marcus Eriksson.

Pressure reduced volume of waste

Recycling is an area where Sweden is at the forefront. One of the groups had been given the assignment to develop a plastic compactor to reduce the volume of plastic packaging thrown in a garbage room.

– Our group has developed a plastic compactor that minimizes the volume of plastic waste in the garbage room, which means that the truck does not have to come as often to collect waste. The plastic compactor could not shred, melt or freeze the plastic because the recycler wants to be able to sort the plastic packaging before it is recycled. One thing we take with us is to be out in good time to keep up with everything and it was fun when we got our prototype to work, says Lina Ingesbo, student at the MSc Programme in Mechanical Engineering at Luleå University of Technology.

The next group's prototype was connected to an energy source that is becoming more important, namely solar energy.

– This prototype is a stand for holding three solar panels. It is mostly made of wood but the legs are steel telescopes that can stand on all kinds of surfaces. The stand is adjustable at different heights and angles. It has been fun working in groups to develop smart details for the product, says Mattias Wirsenius, student at the MSc Programme in Sustainable Energy Engineering.

Reached a milestone

This year's edition also offered a milestone in the course's history. For the first time in ten years, it was possible to extract energy from a so-called stirling engine.

– We have built and optimized a stirling engine which is an engine without internal combustion. You do not supply any fuel in the engine itself, but you have an external heat source, which can range from a solar beam to a gas flame, the latter is what we have used. This has been a recurring project for ten years, and we are the first group to succeed in extracting energy from the engine to charge a mobile phone, it feels great, says Karl Holmqvist, student at the MSc Programme in Mechanical Engineering

A video clip when students gain energy from the stirling engine can be found here.