TSE’s Award Winning Innovation: Ultra low-power battery charger using Tree-Based Energy

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Seven innovations from Thammasat School of Engineering (TSE) had been awarded in Thailand Research Expo 2020, an event held by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) and National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) at Centara Grand Hotel and Bangkok Convention Center @ Central World.

One of the inventions is the “Ultra-low-power battery charger using tree-based energy (UBCT)”. The invention is by Mr Suphakiat Suphasynth and Mr Chatchawan Kantala, Ph.D. students with Prof.Dr. Phadungsak Ratanadecho as their advisor. It is patented and is the first UBTC in Thailand.

“This innovation is all about designing and creating the prototype UBCT that can make use of the energy in nature. The UBCT will give access to new renewable energy, tree-based energy, which is going to be very useful,” says Suphakiat.

“People in the remote areas will be able to easily use the electricity from the trees by themselves. They can use it to power lights around the area. The prototype can also be used to teach a concept of bioenergy to high school students. Besides, this innovation can be developed to create a battery charger from other energy sources like an ocean, salt field, shrimp pond, mud, etc. Therefore, everyone can use this innovation despite the area they live in,” he adds.

Speaking on the the process of making the UBCT, Suphakiat says, “The first part of the project is researching. We researched all the relevant information, designing and creating a prototype to test with a tree. In our first attempt, the power we get from the tree was very little. We had been developing and failing for two years but we just did not give up.”

“Later, we designed a new circuit and tested it on three different trees: banana tree, papaya tree, and dumbcane. The experiment went well this time. The electricity can be stored in a battery and used to produce light. After that, we designed a more compact version that can be used everywhere and are easy to use,” he continues.

“For now, it is still a prototype. Overall it had been 2 years and 8 months since our first attempt. We had been through many trials and errors to make this work the way we wanted it to be.”

“UBCT works by plugging the positive electrode (copper) and the negative electrode (iron) to the tree trunk. The electricity from the tree will run into the circuit where it will be amplified increasing the voltage from mV to V and then store in the battery for producing light,” he explains.

Speaking about the utility of this innovation, Suphakiat says, “This innovation can be further developed to many different energy sources like mention above and will allow people in a remote area to use electricity from their resources. UBCT has many benefits such as the fact that it is environmentally friendly, durable, and can be used regardless of an environment to make it available for as many people as they wanted.”

He further adds, ” We will continue to develop the UBCT for not only producing light but also for charging electrical devices or appliances, and we are also going to test and adapt our innovation to various power sources.”

Speaking about the support from the advisor for this innovation, he mentions, “Our advisor has been helping us on the first day. He helps us generate the idea, design, as well as methodology. So that we can use the result with the real condition. He also helps to provide monetary support for the project.”

“When researching or creating any innovation, we have to think about its benefit to the society, and the general public, and those in remote areas. It is something that will also give everyone a chance to study, think, and work. It also teaches us to be detailed, careful and determined. We have to stand up against the obstacles and failures, and soon we will succeed,” Suphakiat concludes.