It all started in 2011 in a pub in London, Ralph Clague and Ellen Dowell (curator of Einstein’s Garden) had a brilliant idea… to power the electronics of a small tent at the Green Man festival using green energy. Relishing a challenge, the next day Ralph contacted Dan Brett asking if there were any students at UCL willing to take on a summer project – to build a hydrogen fuel cell system to provide emission free power for Einstein’s garden. Remembering that Leon Brown had enquired about a summer project just days before, the foundations were laid for UCell. Thanks to support from the EIL and Imperial College, later that summer the fuel cell system was up and running and successfully provided the power for a garden shed, backstage.
In 2013 the team grew even more and UCell was born. A further five students were drafted in to work on the project, alongside their PhDs. The team again powered the performance stage at Einstein’s garden and incorporated a fully automated hybridisation run from 2 Arduinos. We also provided live stats, with the help of a Raspberry Pi, from the fuel cell such as voltage, current and power output. In 2014 the team returned to Green Man Festival for the fourth year, debuted at Glastonbury Festival, and expanded their event portfolio of schools events, including providing power to the Greenpower International Finals.
Since then, UCell has continued to grow, expand, change and update. Now in 2018, we are still attending festivals, powering the stack for small demonstration lectures at UCL and taking our demo kits to spread the word of upcoming energy technologies! Now not just a fuel cell outreach group, we are doing work on the themes of electricity generation from fuel cells (using hydrogen), hydrogen production using electrolysis and finally energy storage using batteries.