Natasha Burgert, 16, with the three-wheeled bike she modified to be solar-powered. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Solar bike an exercise in potential

South Surrey teen takes power of renewable energy on the road

South Surrey student Natasha Burgert is a big believer in potential.

Next month, she’ll learn if others share her enthusiasm – specifically, for the potential of solar power in the area of transportation.

Burgert, 16, will be entering a three-wheeled, solar-powered bike that she built into the South Fraser Regional Science Fair, set for April 20 and 21 at the Surrey campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“I wanted to raise awareness and show people the power and the potential that renewable energy has,” Burgert said Monday, after demonstrating her creation in the parking lot of Semiahmoo Secondary.

“People kind of often tend to dismiss renewables when it comes to vehicles and transportation. I wanted to show that something like a bike can be 100 per cent driven by solar panels, and it doesn’t have to be any worse than fossil fuels. Why couldn’t we apply this technology to boats or planes?

“Just the impact that it can have, I think is just amazing.”

Burgert, in Grade 11 at Semi, got the idea for the bike last year, after her dad bought a small electric bike.

“I was fascinated by it,” she said. “I thought, what if I put solar panels on an electric bike? – it could go indefinitely.”

And so Burgert set out to do exactly that. She bought an adult tricycle, then ordered an electric motor, control unit and solar panels. The panels – three 100-watt and three 50-watt – are supported by an aluminum frame, and, in peak sunny conditions, generate up to 450 watts that power the bike’s 500-watt motor, she said.

The result? A vehicle that, in addition to catching a few eyes due to design, can reach speeds of up to 30 km/h.

As backup for the days that aren’t so sunny, Burgert added three, 12-volt lead-acid batteries at the back of the trike that, if needed, can power it for about 90 minutes.

The teen is optimistic she’s found the right combination of renewable energy – one month into testing and the bike has yet to run out of power.

A trip to White Rock’s waterfront March 10 from her west White Rock home near 144 Street and North Bluff Road was the first test involving what Burgert described as “severe altitude.”

“It went very well,” she said of the bike’s performance.

Tweaks Burgert has made along the way include the addition of a linear actuator, which enables her to tilt the solar panels to maximize their capacity. She’s also switched out the trike’s seat, creating a recliner with the shell of a child car-seat.

As for her own potential, Burgert said she doesn’t yet know where it will take her, but she doesn’t see any limitations.

It should be no surprise she’s considering a career in the sciences – she’s been exploring the various fields since Grade 4, through projects that looked at everything from evolution to arsenic in drinking water and more.

Currently, genetic research is high on her list.

“There’s so much to do in the world, so I’m unaware as to where exactly I should go,” Burgert said.

“Things that I do see potential in, I want to go after.”

 

Natasha Burgert, 16, on her solar-powered, electric trike. (Tracy Holmes photo)

The trike’s backup batteries. (Tracy Holmes photo)

The control panel shows, among other things, the level of battery power. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Just Posted

B.C. premier hints at twin-tunnel plan for George Massey Tunnel

John Horgan cancelled plans for a 10-lane bridge to replace the 60-year-old tunnel shortly after taking office

Eight alleged dealers face charges for Surrey-Langley drug ring

Police say the group is linked to the ongoing gang conflicts in Metro Vancouver

Today Surrey residents to learn what city will reveal about controversial policing plan

First ‘public engagement’ meeting on plan to swap out the RCMP for a city-made police force in Cloverdale Thursday

Cloverdale students honour veterans at inaugural luncheon

Hold High the Torch hosted 30 veterans at Salish Secondary luncheon

Former Surrey Eagle ‘proud’ to represent Italy at world championships

Anthony Bardaro playing pro hockey in Europe after junior, university career

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Police investigate ‘serious collision’ between motorcycle, truck in Vancouver

Motorists asked to stay away from Blanca Street & West 4 Avenue

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana growing ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Metro Vancouver mayors ask public to lobby feds for annual $375M transit fund

Mayors renewing their call for transit funding as federal election looms

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

BC Ferries asks boaters to learn signals and be careful around vessels

BC Ferries responded to 15 marine emergencies in 2018

VIDEO: Suspected arson sends five to Abbotsford hospital with smoke inhalation

Man seen throwing flammable substance in van, lighting it on fire next to home

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Most Read

l -->