To date little is known about the use of different types of e-bikes, their health effects, and the effect they are having on motorized and regular bicycle travel. Therefore most information is highly opinionated, with in particular high expectations about health benefits that are not supported by scientific evidence). Also very little is known about the technical performance and effects of solar charging of e-bikes on mobility patterns and battery charging behavior and hence sustainability effects, even not in the Netherlands, a country which has a strong track record in research in both photovoltaics, mobility and sustainable design.
The aim of this trans-disciplinary Smart Living Campus project is to collect and analyze data to understand the use patterns of electric bicycles (e-bikes) and their potential benefits as part of a sustainable mobility system. E-bikes are usually charged by electricity from the grid and by human power resulting from pedaling during use. In this project, among others, we like to compare these two modes of charging with charging by solar PV power, before, during and in the middle of trips. At the same time, by exploring this topic with a trans-disciplinary approach, new research methods will be required which can combine end-user studies with the analysis of (big) data of e-bike use variables. The main research question is to examine the efficiency and user satisfaction of different solar charging strategies of e-bikes in three different situations, (1) at the work place (at UT), (2) at the home location, and (3) during travelling.
Solar charging at the UT: The UT’s Facility Management is preparing the installation of a solar charging station. This solar charging station will be realized by mid 2017. This charging station and e-bikes that are connected to it will be fully monitored and evaluated.
Solar charging at home: we plan to select 5-10 UT staff members who will receive a small solar charging kit consisting of a PV module and lead-acid battery for use at home, to be compared with central charging.
Solar charging during the trip. We will use 5 solar-bikes which have been developed as part of a TUE/UT 4TU.Bouw Lighthouse project. The solar bikes are e-bikes with integrated solar cells, which can charge during the trip. We will examine to what extent the integrated solar cells expands their range compared to regular E-bikes. The e-solar-bike also allows traditional charging.
E-bike users (recruited from UT staff members) will be monitored, and user surveys will be conducted to evaluate user needs and satisfaction with solar charging. Sensor kits for e-bike monitoring have been developed and tested at University of Waterloo.
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Bachelorstudent designs a charging kit
Bachelorstudent Industrial Design Nino Bolink (21) designed a charging kit for the e-bike. The prototype allows the energy of a solar panel to be used for an e-bike. The kit stores the energy and makes it suitable for a normal power outlet. There are several separate components required, but in the design of Nino everything is in one device. Read the article from UToday (In Dutch) where Nino tells more about his idea.
The UT gets a solar power e-bike charging station
In the next phase of our project, a solar charging station for e-bikes will be installed on the campus of the University of Twente. The charging station will be placed next to the Spiegel and offers one of the three charging techniques which participants in the project can opt to use. The other two are namely an integrated solar wheel in an e-bike and a home charging kit. This new charging stations provides 100% green energy for six e-bikes at the same time. When the design of the charging station will be fully secured against theft and resistant to vandalism, it will be installed in the upcoming months. Dr Angèle Reinders (ARISE at Design, Production and Management, UT), who initiated the Living Smart Campus project ‘Solar powered e-bikes’, has been designing the charging station together with colleagues from Facility Management and the companies ‘Bordbusters’ (construction SLBS), ‘Zelziuz’ (PV panels and Invertor) and ‘IpsumEnergy’ (measurement equipment). Zelziuz and IpsumEnergy are both located in the region, so together with the UT this is a good example of national and regional innovative partnership with a potential global impact. Want to know more?
Test a solar bike!
The University of Twente is researching solar powered e-bikes and you are welcome to test them! A big test of solar bikes, which charge themselves as you cycle, will start in May and the university is now searching for participants of this ‘Solar powered e-bike’ project. Read more about it!