Media releases

Drainpipe generator scoops Energy Institute climate change award

31-03-2020

Bright sparks from Walton High School in Stafford, UK have won the first ever Energy Institute Climate Change Award as part of the Big Bang Competition with an innovative waste water power generation device.

The Award recognises projects developed by young people aged 11-18 that are aimed at bringing about a lasting reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, as a contribution to the UK’s goal of reaching net zero by 2050.

Students Harry Lunt, Eden Jones, James Hurst and Harvey Turner, wowed the judges with their ‘Blu Pipe’ drainpipe generator, a small-scale power generation device suitable for mass production and fitting to drainpipes anywhere in the world.

As well as the prize of £500, the team will also work with the EI over the coming months. They will feature in an episode of the EI’s ‘Energy in Conversation’ podcast, take over the EI blog, Twitter and Instagram feeds, spend a day at the EI’s head office in London to learn about careers in energy and attend one of the EI’s introductory training courses for energy professionals.

The students from Walton High School were chosen from over 300 young people from across the country who were selected to be finalists of The Big Bang Competition, an annual contest designed to recognise and reward young people's achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as well as helping them build skills and confidence in project-based work.

With the cancellation in March of the Big Bang science and engineering fair due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Climate Change Award decision was made remotely by the EI’s Chief Executive Louise Kingham OBE FEI and President Steve Holliday FREng FEI on the basis of videos provided by the shortlisted teams.

Louise Kingham said:

“Ensuring we have the best and brightest talent to address the climate emergency we face is crucial, and I was delighted to see the ingenuity and talent showcased through this competition.

“The Blu Pipe drainpipe generator device is simple but has multiple potential applications for both climate change and access to clean energy. The team from Walton High showed real motivation, presented well and had the evidence-base to back it all up.

“At the Energy Institute we’re focused on the pipeline of new talent and I’m reassured that the team from Walton High and the other shortlisted schools are ready in the wings to push the boundaries of our industry in the future.”

Steve Holliday said:

“I spent ten years running the UK’s electricity grid and reckon the young team at Walton High are onto something with Blu Pipe.

“It was a pleasure to judge the Climate Change Award. Harry, Eden, James and Harvey are worthy winners.”

The winning team said:

"We were incredibly pleased and proud of our achievement when we found out our success.

We are glad that, despite the strong competition, our design was worthy of the award and we are all really looking forward to taking part in the award activities which have been planned. But ultimately we would like to appreciate our teacher’s support and the event organisers for improvising despite the current situation."

Notes for editors

  1. For media enquiries please contact Robyn Wainwright on 07815 542288 or rwainwright@energyinst.org
  2. The Energy Institute (EI) is the chartered professional membership body bringing together expertise for urgent global challenges.
    We gather and share essential knowledge about energy, provide the skills that are helping us all use it more wisely, and develop the good practice needed to keep it safe and secure.
    We articulate the voice of energy experts, taking the know-how of around 20,000 members and 200 companies from 120 countries to the heart of the public debate.
    And we’re an independent, not-for-profit, safe space for evidence-based collaboration, an honest broker between industry, academia and policy makers.
    The EI is here for anyone who wants to better understand or contribute to the extraordinary energy system on which we all depend.
  3. The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK.
    Taking place in March each year at The NEC in Birmingham, The Big Bang Fair is an award-winning combination of exciting theatre shows, interactive workshops and exhibits and careers information from STEM professionals.
  4. The Big Bang Fair Competition aims to recognise and reward young people's achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and provide them with the opportunity to build their skills and confidence in project-based work.
    It is open to 11 to 18 year olds from across the UK who have completed a project or activity in any field of science, technology, engineering or maths.