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The students presented creative prototypes

Published: 8 June 2018

A smart bicycle rack, an optimized seeding tool and a functioning wind turbine. These were some of the exciting prototypes that engineering students had developed in the Sustainable Living project course.

A new project was about developing an effective bicycle storage system for the university. The purpose of the bicycle storage was, among other things, that the bicycles should take less space and not be able to fall over.

– This bicycle rack saves 33 percent of land space, making narrow lanes considerably wider compared to when regular bicycle racks are used. What was extra fun with the project was that we managed to include electronics so that you can lock and unlock the bicycle with your LTU card, says Jakob Lundin from Märsta, who is studying the third year of engineering engineering at Luleå University of Technology.

Enhanced function and ergonomics

The SeedPad® project was also a novelty. In this project, the Umeå-based company Arevo AB had given a group of students the task of improving their SeedPad rejuvenation system. The system consists of a plate with a strong moisture absorbing material containing nitrogen with a high-grade seed on the underside. The plate is placed directly in the ground using a hand-held tool that is loaded with SeedPad tubes with 300 seed units.

– The problems that existed with the previous solution were that the seed plates got stuck in the output if the operator happened to do half a movement, for example due to twigs in the road. The units in the packing pipes also became stuck if the tool was turned upside down, says Tim Snell from Falun, who reads the Master Programme in Mechanical Engineering.

The students now hope that their SeedPad prototype is taken into into production.

– It would be a dream, the company will test it in full-scale use, planting several thousand units in one day. It will be fun to see what it can do. The improvements we have made are, among other things, that we solved the problem of half feed. It is also possible to hold the tool upside down without the seed plates sticking. Then we have made the tool more ergonomically by turning the handle so that it is held like a crutch, which reduces the load on the wrist. Then it has rounded feet so that the operator can go with the tool as a walking stick.

Solar and wind energy

Sandra Öhman from Kramfors is studying the third year of the Master Programme in Sustainable Energy Engineering. Her group had built a wind turbine, and it was the first time that a group managed to get electricity from its prototype.

– We are proud that we managed to build a wind turbine that can generate electricity. We chose to focus on the mechanical parts and we have, among other things, made the gearbox ourselves. We get 20 watts from via a generator, but that requires a wind speed of eight meters per second.

Another project that used the power of nature was to heat a small cabin on campus with the help of solar collectors.

– We measured the cabin's heat demand to 500 watts and when we did measurements some day ago, our prototype managed 559 watts, so we're really happy. The solar collector consists of a black plate with channels heated by the sun. The hot air that is created is blown in via a fan powered by a battery, which in turn is charged with a solar cell. Temperature difference is 16 to 54 degrees, which is really cool for a prototype, says Maria Josefsson from Varberg, who studies the Master Programme Sustainable Energy Engineering, adding:

– Something I learned from the project is that it works best if different personality types are involved. It has also been fun to get to work practically since the majority of the education is theoretical.