Project duration: 2009 (3 Months)

2010 | Northern Futures | 3D Design Category
2009 | INDEX - Design to Improve Life | Finalist
2008 | Noise Festival | Tom Dixons Curators Choice

2010 | 100 stories of Design to Improve Life

Universal Generator - Concept development of a rugged generator targeting off grid communities for JCB.

Looking at JCB’s philanthropic work in disaster scenarios, a line of future products was envisaged that could act as catalysts to create industry through the optimization of local resources in low income communities.

The universal generator concept seeks to improve the quality of life for impoverished and remote communities throughout the world by genuinely sustainable means. It is simple to use, easy to maintain and robust.

This reliable and versatile device will enable communities to generate their own clean electrical power for a variety of uses eg lighting, heating, radios and computers, powering tools and pumping wells etc. It will maximize the creative and enterprising ways by which such communities use scarce resources to ensure their survival.

The potential benefits could be profound for such communities, allowing them, for example, to function safely after dark, children to study, adults to continue working and all to maintain contact at all times, with the outside world.

The core structure of this device consists of an outer and inner drum. Either drum can be anchored, whilst a source of kinetic energy revolves the other within or around the stationary one, thus generating electricity. Potential applications are maximized by a simple mechanism within the inner drum which allows the axle to be easily replaced by others of differing dimensions, and unique features on the outer shell which enable flexible positioning of the generator.

"I think what’s interesting about it is that it’s tackling a very, very real problem which is energy generation, particularly micro-energy generation, in communities which might not have a lot of electricity. British engineering for sure is still potentially a place for Chris to go but there are very specialist manufacturers for these types of things all over the world." - Tom Dixon