By Colleen Fay | Editor-in-Chief
To seniors Andrew Brown and Vishaal Mali, the future of sustainable energy is in an object that has been around for over 200 years: the bicycle.
The pair came up with the idea to harness the human-generated power created when pedaling, which is usually wasted. Their product, called the Pedal Cell, uses this energy to charge devices, such as a phone. The product will eventually be able to heat up the seat of a bicycle.
“The idea started when I was taking AP Environmental science my junior year,” Mali said. “Becoming aware of the atrocities associated with energy and electrical production and its detrimental effects on our planet, I began looking for ways we could stop our dependence on electricity. Realizing how dependent I was on keeping my phone charged, I decided to build a device that could allow you to charge your own phone, without having to plug it in. Thus, the creation of the concept ‘Power. By You.’ With the growing dependence on biking in the United States as well as the world, I decided to engineer a product optimized for bikers, allowing them to keep their phone charged while biking.”
Brown and Mali created Pedal Cell, and then used it as a project for DECA; however, the pair has gone further to put their business plan in action and manufacture their product. The company caught the attention of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. The university gave Pedal Cell funding through their StartUM program, which helps students turn innovative ideas into start-up companies
They have also enlisted the help of technology teacher Chris Hill to help in the manufacturing process.
“[The technology department] had a 3D printer that we got on a grant called EcoCycle that uses recycled coke bottles. I hooked them up with that,” Hill said. “It basically a revolving door [in my classroom]. They come in and print parts. If it doesn’t quite work, they come back in and reprint.”
While the company is relatively new, Mali has hopes of producing Pedal Cell on a global scale. Mali and Brown plan to market Pedal Cell to other countries, such as the Netherlands, France, and Italy that have large amounts of bikes. Mali said that they also hope to keep costs low in an effort to make Pedal Cell available to more people.
“Our goal is to empower people with the technology to produce their own clean energy,” Mali said. “We hope to branch out and provide our technology to those lacking electricity in third world countries, initiating an area of sustainability for the future.”