Author – Anusha Narayan
Field executives such as civil engineers, marketing executives, medical representatives, construction workers roaming around the countryside face a major problem: how to charge their mobile phones and other electronic devices while on the move? Similarly they also face another problem of spending strenuously long hours under the harsh sun. Mahesh Shivashimpiger realized that it would be wonderful if somehow we were to bring these two problems together and address it with one single solution!
Mahesh Shivashimpiger is a solar energy expert who has been striving to study various possibilities of harnessing solar energy. Way back in 2006, Shivashimpiger had established the ‘Sunray Solar Museum’ at his hometown Hubli in Karnataka for building awareness about renewable sources of energy. After this encounter with a field executive, he realized that people get numerous options to charge electronic devices at home or office, but there are very few available while they are on the move. Similarly, he understood that there field executives have to be travel in the harsh sun throughout the day.
Most Indian motorbike riders do not like wearing helmets because of the intense heat, especially during summers. Similarly, it is cumbersome for them to carry a big backpack to transport their goods. When he studied these two problems, Shivashimpiger realized that harvesting solar energy need not be restricted to using huge immovable solar panels, because there are better innovative solutions available.
Shivashimpiger got the idea of a solar backpack when he met a medical representative who was struggling with his battery-dead phone, who was pleading with others if he could make a call from their phone. “I thought of developing a solar backpack for such professionals who go a long way in to the sunny day and have a dire need for their phones to remain active throughout”, says Shivashimpiger.
Similarly, this simple yet innovative man addressed the issue of heat by embedding solar panels on top of a helmet, which could be put to use for charging phones or powering a cooling fan. The huge chunk of time spent in the sun by these executives at work can now be put to effective use by fitting equipment in the headgear and backpacks that can recharge batteries.
Mahesh Shivashimpiger’s solar helmet collects energy at a rate of 1 EU/t, which is 20 EU per second, the same amount when compared to that of a regular solar panel. This solar helmet charger makes use of a DC motor fitted in the headgear. No voltage loss occurs during this procedure and electronic gadgets like mobile phones and laptops could be attached to get their batteries recharged. This was done with the use of convertors that converted solar energy to electrical energy required in a limited amount to recharge the battery.
Both the solar backpack and solar helmet could be used in two ways: they can be directly attached to the solar panel, which would directly convert the solar energy into electric power; or they could also use the battery bank, which contains stored electric power.
Further, the helmet is retrofitted with a fan that is powered by the same charger, harnessing solar power. This is an added advantage since the cooling mechanism would provide relief to all those professionals who are required to stand under the scorching heat of the sun for long durations of their working day.