April 04 2020
Madurai youth design solar bike
09 February 2012

MADURAI: Frustrated over the fuel price hike and frequent power cuts, two college students have designed a solar bike in Madurai which runs a handsome 30 km when fully charged.

O K Karthick, doing his first-year MBA and K Harish Kumar, a final-year mechanical engineering student from KNL Engineering College, have come out with a design comparable to e-bikes. "E-bikes are a good option when petrol prices are soaring, but where do we go for electricity in this scenario," Karthick says.

The idea struck him one month ago, when one of his professors brought a solar mobile phone charger. "As an MBA student, I thought that this could become a business model when there is a severe power crunch," he said. Along with his friend Harish, he started researching the topic. The boys decided to use all scrap and hence fished in items such as a bike chase, shock absorbers and seats from the Sunday market. The solar panels cost them more since they could not find many dealers in such items. They shelled out Rs 6,000 each for a panel. But they are optimistic such panels will be cheap in cities like Bangalore and Coimbatore and decided to procure them from these places for their next venture, they said.

They have fixed four 20 watts solar panels with one at the front and the other three in the rear. Out of the three, two can be foldable while riding, thus not hindering navigation in crowded traffic. When parked, the solar panels can be unfolded to receive maximum sunlight. The photovoltaic cells in the panels create energy and save it in the batteries, fixed in the bike, which powers the motor attached in the rear wheel like normal e-bikes. "When charged for six hours in daylight, the bike runs for 30 km. During rainy days, the bike can be charged with normal electricity," Karthick said.

Another novel idea the boys struck upon was to use old dynamos found in bicycles to power the head lights. "The two dynamos attached to the front wheel power the headlights at night and during day, the minimum power they generate will be sent to the batteries," Karthick said. "In fact, finding dynamos was a tough task since they are almost obsolete. We found two of them in a village after a lot of searching," Harish said. The boys are further planning to increase the power of the bike and try their hands at ergonomics to make it more comfortable and stylish. "We are into further research and we were told that nano-solar cells are in the research phase. Once they are introduced, the size of the solar panel will reduce, generating more energy," they said. A M Nagarajan, professor of mechanical engineering, guided them in designing the model, they added.



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