Youngsters design advanced gadgets in festival project

Vincent Plummer gets in the spirit of things. Picture: contributed
Vincent Plummer gets in the spirit of things. Picture: contributed
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THEY look and sound like they’ve come straight out of a sci-fi novel – but could one day change life as we know it.

A group of young people from across Edinburgh, the UK and Europe have designed a series of super-advanced, eco-friendly devices aimed at propelling mankind into a brave new world.

Techniques for growing food from your own waste, 
solar-powered agricultural fields that float and a triangular fridge using water rather than environmentally harmful coolants to keep items fresh were among the radical projects offered during two four-day workshops at Edinburgh’s Summerhall.

Organisers from the Edinburgh International Science Festival (EISF) said 80 young innovators aged 16 to 20, including around ten from the Capital, were set the task of putting together solutions to problems faced by settlers on a new planet as part of the 
Fuselab design project. And in a sign the futuristic creations could become part of everyday life, participants were also asked to make business cases for ideas that could work on Earth as well.

Royal High pupil Vincent Plummer, 16, from Blackhall, worked against the clock to help create a unique, water-based fridge that comes very close to matching the temperature-controlling power of ­today’s home appliances. He said: “What the team did was a pretty big step and I’d love to build one for myself – a portable fridge that works from water.

“Normally fridges use fans to pump things that evaporate easily round its pipe system. I know they used to use chlorine coolant that was really bad for the environment and it was a big problem to dispose of.

“We found our fridge gets as cool as five degrees centigrade, which is only a little bit above the working temperature of a normal fridge – and it could be optimised further.”

Vincent – who will begin Highers in physics, biology, chemistry, maths and English after the holidays – also revealed taking part had sparked an ambition to set up his own hi-tech firm.

“I would love it if I could do that,” he said. “I’m thinking of doing electrical engineering at university and if I did, I’d want it to be green-powered.”

Fuselab organisers said they hoped the workshops would help spur the emergence of participants as fully-fledged designers.

EISF director Simon Gage said: “Participants are leaving having been taken through the A-Z of the innovation process. I hope it has helped broaden their horizons and shown that the process of innovation has many facets.

“At this key point in young people’s lives our aim for ­Fuselab is to help them find out what they enjoy and are talented at.”