UTAlumni CommunityNewsHow do you win the student-powered ice device project with bicycle pumps?

How do you win the student-powered ice device project with bicycle pumps?


They took on the challenge of using only two bicycle pumps to design a cooling device that could cool 200 ml of water in just 30 minutes!


Students not only had to create a working cooling device but also test their design and process as part of a team, using a systematic and scientific approach. To begin, they were given a basic setup with two bicycle pumps and a connecting tube.

As they delved into thermodynamic concepts, the students discovered an ingenious way to compress air in one bicycle pump and then move it to the other pump to expand. This expansion created cooling, which in turn was used to cool the water. The movement of the pumps created a cycle of compression and expansion.


Determined to improve their basic setup, the students investigated different methods. They adjusted the length of the connecting tube, experimented with using water to cool the tube and tried insulation with rock wool to protect the water tank. Along the way, of course, they faced challenges, one of which turned out to be designing a waterproof container. Fortunately, the students had access to a 3D printer this year, so there were fewer leaks than before.

Innovative ideas also emerged during the project, especially in realising the crucial role of pump cycle timing. Some teams developed inventive solutions, integrating sounds and lights to maintain a stable and efficient pumping cycle.


What made this project truly special was the collaboration between the teams. In the project rooms on the second floor, students worked side by side on their designs. One of the students noted that in a project like this, it is important to assign roles and tasks, have a shared drive for storing the files and have good contact between them, such as through Whats app. This collaboration focused not only on content development but also on personal skills, such as overcoming shyness and showing leadership.


Full of anticipation, we looked forward to the much-anticipated demonstration, where teams presented their designs and the 30-minute competition began to determine the best cooling device. Of course, the details of the winning teams remain secret😉 but the teams that delivered the best performance are Team TN with, in photo 1, Bram Dirks, Manoah van der Worp, Grace-Lynn Keizers, Jonas Hop, Quirijn de Groen and Matthijs Bos (from left to right). The best Team AT is shown in photo 2 with Rayshad Bayuaji, Orfeas Chasaneas Petras, Egor Semin (not a team member), Tijl de Lang, Tristan Blok and Valentijn Simons (from left to right).

Cornelise Vreman-de Olde, Dr. ir.

This project brought not only success but also valuable experiences in teamwork and practical application of theoretical knowledge.

Cornelise Vreman-de Olde, Dr. ir.


In this project, originally conceived by Marcel ter Brake, students bring together theory and practice. In the subject Thermodynamics (taught by Srini Vanapalli, Imre van Veldhoven, Michiel van Limbeek, and Herman Hemmes) they acquire in-depth knowledge about insulation and refrigeration cycles. Their introductory experiments provide direct insight into the practical applications of these concepts (thanks to Paul Rupert, Ben Oude Alink and John Kooiker for their valuable contributions!) In addition, students develop skills in applying a systematic design approach that will be useful in other design projects as well. Finally, Rob Beltman introduces students to TCO's self-service workshop, where they can make specific parts of their device.

Each year, students look forward with anticipation to the demonstration, where teams present their designs and the exciting competition takes place: 30 minutes of pumping to determine which team designed the best refrigeration device. It is always a particularly fun event!