Students from Nottingham Trent University are helping to reduce the UK’s BBQ carbon footprint by supporting a local entrepreneur to bring his energy-efficient ‘Charbecue’ to the domestic market.
The UK is Europe's leading BBQ nation, hosting over 120 million in 2011, with each traditional charcoal BBQ creating a carbon footprint of 998 kg of CO2e.
The group of product design students was tasked by the university’s sustainable design project, Future Factory, to help inventor Phil Hards develop the Charbecue, a commercial BBQ that is 30% more energy efficient and produces less emissions, for use at home – potentially reducing UK carbon emissions by millions of tons per annum.
The students assessed the current design and manufacturing processes and made a number of recommendations, including a reduction of stainless steel in the design and substitution with cast iron to lower product costs and reduce the weight.
The number of individual components used in the commercial design was also identified as an issue by the students, who were at first unable to make it financially profitable. To overcome the problem, they worked to simplify the design and identified a number of parts that could be made into just one component.
Using market research the students also provided ideas to Charbecue about additional items they could sell as accessories and a number of changes to make the product easier for new users, adding significant value to the brand.
Phil Hards said: “I came to Future Factory for support because I wanted to produce a domestic version of the Charbecue using sustainable materials, but at a price point which is acceptable to the general public. Having fresh ideas from the students has been fantastic and they really helped me to see where it can go. I’ll be working with Future Factory now to implement suitable changes.”
Daniel Shin, a PhD student in product design in the university’s School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, has been working with the students on the project. He said: “The project allowed the students to use the knowledge they have gained from their course on a live project which could have a real impact.”
Debra Easter, Future Factory project manager, added: “This project encapsulates what Future Factory is all about – helping local businesses to develop through sustainable design. Phil has a fantastic product with a lot of potential and we’re excited to be supporting him to expand into a new market.”
Future Factory is part-funded by the European Regional Development fund. It supports small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in the East Midlands to become more sustainable in a variety of ways. The project offers workshops and events, one-to-one business mentoring and customised research. It connects SMEs to experts in their field to develop specialised projects.
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