School of Social Sciences

Humanities student designs innovative solar device

Social Sciences alumnus Mr Trever Colvelle designs innovative Solar Nexus device.

Social Sciences alumnus Mr Trever Colvelle recently won first place, out of 198 entries, at the Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business Competition for his Solar Nexus gadget. The gadget utilises rollable solar panels as a canopy to capture solar power which is then stored in a power bank connected in the device.

The detachable power bank can power small household appliances such as television sets, radio, fan/heater, lights or even charge cellphones, tablets, laptops, power banks etc.

‘The power bank is a 12V 20 000 mAh (milliamps) of power. When fully charged, it is able to last a week on a single charge. The design is essential because it enables the user to collect power while they walk to a shopping mall, walking to school, work, and at beaches,’ he explained.

Colvelle walked away with R250 000 worth of business support, including mentorship, product development, incubation, market research, working capital, company registration, IP protection and marketing support.

Solar Nexus also has a tracker for when stolen or misplaced. A mobile app is in the works, which will assist the user in understanding the gadget and access weather information online.

‘The app will interpret it and only make solar information available and forecast, points earned in the solar chaser project and money as well as other important information. The gadget opens up like a golf umbrella to capture the sunrays efficiently,’ said Colvelle.

A concern about shack fires led Colvelle to design the device. ‘I often heard on the news about shack fires or read about them in newspapers, then I started thinking about renewable ways in which shack fires can be curbed. The Solar Nexus idea happened to be at the right place at the right time.’

He plans on making the device available to informal settlements in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng with an expansion into other provinces and other African countries such as Rwanda and Burundi. Colvelle will also be working on the solar chaser project whose aim is to work with unemployed youth to collect solar power and charge power banks.

His advice to other students is, ‘Young entrepreneurs should manage their time wisely and be opportunistic, remember success comes from failure. Be innovative!’

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