We attended the fair with a sponsorship from the RSC who gave us £4000 towards the stand in the Birmingham NEC.
The Hydrogen Bike is an outreach project by Swansea University that enables participants to donate their energy via a static bike and observe in real time their energy stored as hydrogen gas. It facilitates real understanding and discussion as to the issues surrounding our renewable energy future and the use of hydrogen to store and move energy.
The team of chemists and engineers were amazing and full of enthusiasm for the full 4 days of intense activity. 6 of us went up and we spoke to more than 1500 people every day with at least a third of them actually getting on the bike. The event was totally exhausting in a good way with at times groups of 20 small children peddling for 30 seconds, seeing their bubbles and then jumping off. While others spent longer on the bike making a substantial amount of hydrogen. The flame was well behaved and really opened the eyes of loads of people as to the cutting edge science that we do at Swansea and the benefits of Hydrogen as a potential store for renewable energy.
We counted people in two categories those on the bike and those actively watching the display and discussions. Broken down daily:
- Wednesday – 1193 recorded interactions with an additional 359 on the bike
- Thursday – 1451 recorded interactions with an additional 679 on the bike
- Friday – 965 recorded interactions with an additional 549 on the bike
- Saturday ~1000 recorded interactions with an additional 500 on the bike
Giving us a total of more than 6500 interactions with people.
The age range was across the board with most being of school age. The youngest child on the bike was probably about 3 years old and sat on the bike seat while here brothers turned the peddles long below her feet, while the oldest interaction would have been one of the grandparents taking their grandchildren to the show. There were people from all backgrounds and ethnicities involved, reflecting the diverse backgrounds from which our school children originate.
There were a number of highlights for me. People declaring that we were the “Best event at the whole show” were pretty touching, as was the young lad who climbed out of his wheelchair and onto the bike in order to see his own hydrogen bubbles. Some of the more in-depth conversations about sustainable living and energy transfer were great, as was the animated argument about how we should ignore the laws of physics and run the bike off the hydrogen energy in order to make more hydrogen…..
We also came up with loads of improvements for the display and are now trying to implement them before our next outing.
I am extremely grateful to the RSC for their contribution and to the dedicated helpers on our team and look forward to the next encounter for The Hydrogen Bike.