To our great surprise, most of us (except Nick) had never heard of the Calthorpe Project before Wednesday – incredible to think because it’s a 10 minute walk down the road from UCL! The project prides itself on being a “green oasis in King’s Cross” and walking through the gate, you can totally understand why – as soon as you step off the street, noise from cars seems to all but disappear and is taken over by the chirping of birds in the trees (I think it helped that we went on a beautiful sunny day!). Wandering around the space, there is plenty to do. A small community cafe offers a variety of freshly made meals – all prepared with ingredients from the garden grown on site. There are ping pong tables, play areas for kids, a sports pitch and, perhaps most excitingly for us, a Living Lab! The Living Lab is a closed-loop demonstration, in which food waste from the cafe is put into the bioreactor to make fertilizer for the plants, as well as methane for fuel. Huge solar panels also adorned the roof and no doubt were generating plenty of electricity on the day we were there! With the aim of UCell to engage anyone and everyone about hydrogen, fuel cells and sustainability, a collaboration with them seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.
One of our members Nick, who we think is really an engineer posing as an artist, is doing his PhD in conjunction with the Slade School of Fine Art and he initially met people from The Calthorpe Project at a networking event between UCL researchers and local community groups. Having already carried out one workshop in the space, he suggested to the rest of UCell that there was potential for a hydrogen and fuel cell related workshop, as well as scope for a longer term collaboration.
With this in mind, we spent a productive hour at the project, coming up with ideas for the workshop, scouting out the space and also discussing how UCell could potentially set up a long term project at Calthorpe. Another UCell member, Josh, also runs a sustainability collective called PPL PWR and he came along with his PPL PWR hat on to see how they could also contribute to this emerging collaboration. Many ideas were bounced around, including making open-source electrolysers to generate hydrogen or using the bio-methane in high-temperature, solid oxide fuel cells to produce electricity. A productive first meeting and no doubt the start of something great – watch this space!
In the meantime, we have made plans for the workshop on the 30th June. The event will be a series of talks and demonstrations on the theme of hydrogen, fuel cells and sustainable energy, with plenty of time for discussions over a beer or a soft drink! You will be able to sign up very soon and we will post this as soon as it’s available.
Find out more about the Calthorpe Project: http://calthorpeproject.org.uk/
Or PPL PWR: http://www.pplpwr.org.uk/
Or click attending at the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/219201205532206/
Registration is now open! Follow this link to register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hydrogen-fuel-of-the-future-tickets-47130831586
Hope to see you there!