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Portable Energy Converter – Gold Prize in product design

Design: TruRegard ltd. (Connor Musoke-Jones – lead designer, founder and director)

Photo credits: TruRegard ltd.


Energy and Electricity generation has gained a reputation for being horrendously technical and requiring large investments and expert knowledge to understand or participate in; with hiring an expert to install expensive solar panels being the only way most believe they can produce any amount of energy for themselves. This misunderstanding has led to some resentment towards large energy producers and suppliers. People know that energy is a modern necessity and we cannot simple “do-without” but we feel forced to use the large suppliers of energy as there is no viable alternative for the majority of people. People know our societal energy need is a large global issue, but don’t feel they can have any input in a solution. Energy has become very complex, very confusing and in the minds of most people, nothing to do with them. I lead an independent survey of 300 people, aged 20-55, to find people’s opinions around the word “energy” and what it means to them. The results showed 63% of people has no trust in their energy supplier. 50% ‘believe’ they know how their energy is produced but had no way to be sure. 80% wanted to know a lot more about their energy. 85% want to produce their own energy. These results showed there is a want to learn and participate in energy production. So, I began working on a new project with the goal of simplifying energy production to a level understandable by any layperson. Making participating in energy creation as easy as using energy. A yearlong development process has led to the creation of a robust, heat powered, portable micro- generator that can charge a smartphone. Called the Portable Energy Converter (PEC), this device has been designed, with users through-out, to show that some energy needs can be met in very simple ways and produced on demand for you by you. Letting users convert heat to charge their phone is one of the clearest ways to demonstrate that energy is around us in many forms. Heat, a type of energy more commonly thought of as a waste product, than a source of usable energy. Heat was chosen as a source of energy for its availability and common understanding; we all experience heat everyday and intuitively understand many of its basic principles. Meaning anyone can potentially harness its energy. Able to convert energy from a candle, cup of tea, radiator, whatever warmth is around you. Helping people see we don’t need "more energy", we need more ways to harness and convert the energy around us to a more usable form. Charging a smartphone is a simple enough thing but our phones are essential to our lives and incredibly personal. Meeting this one simple, but essential, energy need on your own makes people feel comfortable in OUR CHOICE to use energy suppliers for other things and not being reliant on them for everything.