IN 2013, our Industrial Design team worked on a project to be submitted in several design competitions. The design was a finalist in the 2013 IDEA contest. The project: 2nd Generation. The challenge: Re-imagining what a generator can be.
The “2nd Generation” project was an opportunity to address common complaints of portable power generation (e.g. cost, noise, size, fire danger, maintenance, etc.) while providing a completely new ownership and user experience.
In an effort to reduce consumer complaints, the solution was to divorce the engine and its fuel system from the generator. This eliminates much of the cost, maintenance and fire danger of a standard portable generator. Devoid of an engine, we were left with the task of finding a safe and reliable alternative to the small device normally attached to the generator. We found that alternative in something that is used on a daily basis: a car.
The cars that are manufactured today are absolute workhorses that we felt could be further exploited. They are tremendously overbuilt and under-stressed for generating emergency electricity on our proposed scale of 8-16Kw. As an added bonus, automobiles have a much higher degree of engineering and expected longevity and safety than your typical small engine used in generators. This adds up to a generator system with a lower risk of fire and mechanical failure.
Since the vehicle provides the power, the users are no longer tied to a single source of fuel for the generator. Power is generated by whatever fuel your chosen vehicle runs on. This guarantees that 2nd Generation will remain relevant regardless of what vehicle you own. Armed with a proposed power-plant, we set out to design an automotive-based electricity generation system.
For simplicity and flexibility, a drive-on system was selected. Using an adjustable ramp and roller system, 2nd Generation can accommodate tires up to 37” in diameter. This will easily handle the vast majority of passenger vehicles, light trucks, and full size trucks on the streets today. You can even use two pairs of 2nd Generation generators under All-Wheel-Drive and Full Time 4-Wheel Drive vehicles to provide up to 32Kw of electricity. You simply place the 2nd Generation units in front of each drive tire, fit the support beam, drive the vehicle up on the ramps and rollers and secure the vehicle. At that point, you are ready to set your drive speed and generate electricity.
In order to make 2nd Generation easy to move and easy to store, we oriented the ramp and drive roller system so that each generator in the pair can be easily moved, much like a hand truck, and stored vertically, vastly decreasing the storage footprint.
We strongly feel this system’s tremendous deployment flexibility will impact how disaster response and humanitarian aid scenarios are developed. The affordability of the system also makes it easier for more homeowners to be prepared for power outages. Because 2nd Generation can be deployed in consumer, law enforcement, military and humanitarian capacities, this product will obviously benefit a variety of industries and people.
At SIGMADESIGN we maintain strict confidentiality about the design work we do for our clients’ projects. This upholds our core value of Integrity but also makes it very difficult to showcase the breadth of our Industrial Design department. Participating in design competitions provides us with the opportunity to expand our design portfolio and present our work at the same time. While “2nd Generation” is strictly concept exploration at this point, we are pleased to be able to highlight some of our design capabilities.
by Patrick Scranton, Industrial Designer