Home Mobility QUT students power up with solar for mobile device charging

Architecture and engineering students at the Queensland University of Technology have designed a light, modern solar solution to enable students to charge their mobile devices under the sun on campus.

The students, participating in a competition, created a solar charging off-grid kiosk — dubbed the 'Tower of Power' — with sun-tracking panels and a smartphone app, built with lightweight, but durable materials and fitted with solar panels positioned for optimum efficiency.

Vertiv — a power, thermal and infrastructure management solutions company, formerly Emerson Network Power — sponsored the competition, working closely with the University to help secure the right batteries for the solution.

The kiosk has eight seats in and around it to allow students to sit down and interact while their devices charge, and it is also connected to an application that allows them to see how many ports are available at any time.

“We challenged design students to propose a structure for a smart solar mobile charging station,” said Vishnu Kumar Arun, president, QUT Electrical Engineering Student Society.

“The students went above and beyond and created something that is truly innovative and that embodies the Internet of Things and electronics projects developed by our engineering team.”

The winning students, chosen from four finalists in the competition, worked closely with the engineering teams of QUT EESS to modify the solution design for fabrication and real-world implementation and are now field testing it on campus.

Verti says the hope is to expand on the project and get similar kiosks in place in other universities and organisations countrywide with a commercially viable solution.

The company is also hoping to have a demonstration of the kiosk at Smart Cities Week in October.

“This simple yet innovative idea and execution of it has been a joy to be a part of,” said Alan Smith, senior solutions architect, Vertiv ANZ. “This kind of idea is vital to the successful development of IoT and smart cities in Australia, and to make sure environmental efficiency is considered in line with infrastructure that makes sense for people.”

“Charging mobile devices isn’t the largest burden on the grid, but it still plays its part,” said Kirk Wetherell, associate director, national sales, Vertiv ANZ.

“This is a fusion of cool architecture and clever engineering and the result is an energy-efficient solution which could be used in a huge variety of settings.”

Lydia Carlton, co-designer of the Tower of Power, said: “We wanted to design something innovative and aesthetically pleasing – but we also felt it was important to make it an area where students could sit down and socialise while their devices charged; so we added seating to the inside and outside to cater for different weather.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).


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