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Universal Generator

Lead Designers
Prize(s)Gold in Sustainable Living/environmental Preservation / Rural Sustainable Design, Gold in Sustainable Living/environmental Preservation / Alternative Energy Source Equipmenet, Gold in Sustainable Living/environmental Preservation / Energy Conservation Equipment
Entry Description

Throughout the world it is estimated that 1.6 billion people live without electricity.

The inspiration for the project comes from communities in the third world who develop ingenious and successful ways of survival by the imaginative use of what little is available to them. What if they could be given a tool to enable them to create a sustainable supply of energy which empowers them to improve their future?

The Universal Generator is designed to be an integral part of an energy generating system. It is the missing element that deprived communities lack in order to provide an adaptable and sustainable local power source.

The core structure of this device consists of an outer and inner drum. Either drum can be anchored, whilst a source of kinetic energy revolves the other within or around the stationary one, thus generating electricity. Potential applications are maximized by a simple mechanism within the inner drum which allows the axle to be easily replaced by others of differing dimensions, and unique features on the outer shell which enable flexible positioning of the generator.

The generator could allow for water wheels to be made from bamboo, wind turbines to be created from old oil barrels, gearing to be created from old bicycle parts. The electricity can be regulated within the generator and used to power devices directly or to charge batteries.

The Universal Generator embraces my aspiration to improve the quality of life for deprived and remote communities throughout the world by genuinely sustainable means.

It is the most vulnerable members of these communities, the young, the elderly and the ill who will gain the most, but all would experience benefits to their everyday lives through adequate, reliable and sustainable lighting. Communities can continue to function after dark eg children can study, adults can work and people can meet and radios can provide knowledge from the outside world at all times. With growing confidence, it is the communities who will fulfill their particular needs.


Since graduation in 2008, Chris has freelanced and worked with consultancies on a range of design and engineering projects, including the engineering of kinetic sculptures, the systems design of large scale light instillations, and the commercialization of products for mass production including his own graduate project with Brunel University. Recently his personal and collaborative work has focused more towards humanitarian issues.

His passion for design and all things mechanical, in particular, comes from a lifetime of building things. His 'hands-on' approach to design has brought to life many unusual pieces of experimental design.

In 2009, one of his projects became a nominated finalist in the “Index: Design to improve Life” award and is now part of the award’s world touring exhibition.

Chris received his design education between San Francisco State University in California and Brunel University in London and from which he graduated with a BA in Industrial Design and Technology. Later this year (2010), Chris will be pursuing postgraduate studies in Innovation Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art in London.

For more information please visit www.chrisnatt.com