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Harnessing power from flash floods

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The winning team from IKEA Singapore's Young Designer Award 2017 created a simple concept that could generate power during flash floods.

We are Orion Dai, Casey Kwokdinata and Foo Heng Tong, the team that created the winning concept of IKEA Singapore's Young Designer Award 2017, the Ström System.

We are product design majors from the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University.

As aspiring industrial designers, we were familiar with IKEA Singapore's annual competition. We were elated at the opportunity to join this year as a trio.

This was the first year IKEA Young Designer Award held the 18-hour IDEATHON at the IKEA Tampines store, where 60 student participants stayed overnight to brainstorm ideas based on the 'Climate Action Challenge' theme and pitch them to a panel of judges.

It was an exciting, yet totally foreign experience, to be able to spend the night at the retail giant.

Pitching our design concept to the judges at the IDEATHON.

Our team with Dagan Cohen from What Design Can Do (far left),
and sustainability manager Marcus Tay from IKEA Tampines (far right).

Halfway through competition, we were still stumped! At the nine-hour mark, the judges called for a time-out and asked everyone without ideas to come together and help one another.

This was where the Ström System was born.

We were inspired to utilise the movement of flood waters to our benefit. As we set out to start researching, things still looked bleak as two of us remained unconvinced that this was a feasible idea.

There were many talks of giving up, but we persevered.

The key focus of our idea was on the aftermath of flash floods: where are the people going to get electricity? Where do they find shelter? How do they get access to clean water?

We considered the overflowing storm drains that we see in many cities,
which led us to question potentially how much energy could be created from such a scenario.

So, we conceptualised the Ström System to explore the use of a storm drain that could harness hydroelectric power and turn it into electrical currents, whilst draining floodwater. 

Our Ström System concept allows users to use the storm drain
as a back-up power source during power outages.

Little did we know that the challenges came upon us in swarms, and each time, we just barely made it through. The month during which we built our prototype was the real challenge for us.

As we aimed to make a functioning prototype, we had to return to school—despite it being our school holiday—to 3D-print the components.

Gluing the components together.

Spraying painting the prototype.

Then came the time to construct the functional prototype: How are we going to make a turbine that can generate electricity when spun?

We consulted many electrical engineers and finally found a company who was able to provide us a dynamo (AC generator), which was small enough to fit inside our prototype.

Winning the competition has been a really surreal experience. We had put so much of our time and effort into the project, so seeing it come out on top was really rewarding.

Our tired faces after a month of hard work.

To us, winning was not the most important factor – we just wanted to have some fun, relish the design process, and give our very best.

We cannot wait to go to IKEA of Sweden in Älmhult!

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