University of East London student Carlos Silva goes up against other green tech entrepreneurs on Friday hoping his low-cost electric car will get the nod in a Dragons’ Den-style competition.
The Mayor of London’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award 2015 takes place at City Hall and the electronic and electrical engineering student hopes his affordable take on a new breed of car will take a share of the £20,000 prize fund.
His eureka moment came he reflected on the lack of a cost-effective propulsion system, even for mass produced green vehicles.
He said: “Electric cars offer a reliable and affordable alternative to conventional vehicles. However, I believe they are not yet self-sustainable and further research needs to be carried out by vehicle manufacturers and government to bring the numbers up. This led me to start my work with induction motors.”
According to Carlos, induction motors have been a workhorse of industry worldwide but are yet to be widely accepted as a key component in green cars.
Carlos said: “I started by the fundamentals, comparing different control strategies and judging which one would fit best to the characteristics found on a vehicle, what kind of power source, how to recharge the batteries, and other unanswered questions.”
MP Zac Goldsmith inside the Solarbox in Tottenham Court Road
He removed the petrol engine from his prototype and redesigned and modified major internal systems, all under the auspices of the DVLA which had to approve the car as roadworthy.
Carlos said: “I wanted to make a difference in a world with fewer resources. I particularly enjoy the lack of brake dust, and engine leaks. This results in lower maintenance and a large source of pollution from conventional vehicles is eliminated.”
Last year’s James Winfield and Dominic Jacobson from Imperial College London received £15,000 for their Crowd Power Plant idea while runners up Kirsty Kenney and Harold Craston from LSE won £5,000 for their idea to repurpose disused red telephone boxes into free-to-use solar powered mobile phone charging stations. The first solarbox was launched in October 2014 on Tottenham Court Road.
The 2015 judging panel includes solo yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur; journalist Charlene White, Innocent founder Richard Reed; Andrew Hall and Martin Powell from sponsors Siemens; Delos co-founder Morad Fareed and the mayor’s environmental adviser Matthew Pencharz.