I did a feature on emily a while ago about her, especially after her invention, unfortunately she was really busy at the time doing her exam and we couldnt do an interview with her.
I finally got the chance to ask her some questions, hope you enjoy it!
Hi Emily, great to finally have you on YHP, How are you doing?
I’m very good thank you
Can you quickly give us some background information about yourself?
I am 23 years old and was born near Keighley in West Yorkshire. I went to South Craven School in Crosshills, before going on to study at Leeds University, where I have just graduated from.
When did it all begin, I mean, the whole inventing stage?
When I was four, my Grandad gave me a hammer and began to teach me how to make toys from scraps of materials that we found in his garden shed. I loved the fact that we could make something out of seemingly random bits, and my interest in sustainable design was born.
As I got older I learnt about the properties of different materials and became more experienced in using a wide range of tools. I guess my skills in technology were always one step ahead of the other students my age.
You invented an evaporative refrigerator that does not require electricity, first of all, wow, how the hell did you come up with that? What is the story behind it?
I was inspired by a speaker, who talked about the issues of Climate Change and Global Warming. He described how we can’t continue to rely on electrical appliances powered by fossil fuels any longer, so I decided that for my A Level in product design I would redesign one of the luxury electrical items that we use in our homes so that it either used renewable energy or no electricity at all.
I researched which products we use in our homes and chose to redesign the refrigerator to create a sustainable fridge which is ‘powered’ by dirty water. My prototype consists of two metallic cylinders, one inside the other, between which a material, (such as sand or wool) is packed tightly before being soaked with water.
When the fridge is placed in a warm environment, the outer part of the fridge begins to ’sweat.’ Water evaporates from the sand or wool and heat energy is transferred away from the inner cylinder, which therefore becomes cooler.
Although I originally intended my refrigerator to change people’s thinking about the products that we use in our homes, the design was too simple.
However, it is ideal for use in the developing world because it doesn’t require electricity and can be built using barrels, spare car parts and ordinary household materials. Unlike previous pot-in-pot coolers, the contents are kept dry and hygienic because the water does not come into contact with the product.
You were doing all those work whilst still in the university? How were you able to cope with it, keeping the balance and discipline?
I won’t say it was easy, I was doing a lot of “all nighters”, but realised this was not good for me! Instead of thinking I could do everything myself, I simply asked for help.
The University of Leeds were brilliant, they allowed me to study part-time so I could combine my University work with all the projects that I was working on outside of University. Leeds University also offers scholarships for enterprising students which enabled me to further my enterprise activities. My degree complimented my enterprise activities as well – it was the perfect combination.
Why is the invention directed towards a green initiative? Do you think this is something everyone should be thinking or inventors out there should be considering?
My design philosophy involves a back-to-basics approach which keeps an eye on the past as well as the future and combines the best of both. I'm motivated by human need as well as sustainability principles.
How were you able to fund the whole of process?
I funded it in a variety of ways. Firstly I used to save the money I won in the design competitions I entered when I was at school. I then worked part-time at B&Q, saving the money or spending it on product development.
When funding my gap year I spoke to local companies, I held a raffle and some other fundraising events. Just before I went to Africa, I also won £5000 in a business plan competition run by the Merchant Adventurers. After coming back from Africa I was sponsored by a company called Ignite! I used the money from them to further develop both myself and my products.
How has the journey been so far? Opportunities it has given you?
It has been exciting. When I started out, I never expected this to happen. I wanted to make a difference but I didn’t expect all the publicity. I have had some amazing opportunities as a result though, including going to Buckingham Palace and meeting the Queen, going to Downing Street for breakfast and speaking at events all over the world.
You travelled during your gap year to African countries such as Namibia as it helped or motivate that your invention is needed?
I spent time testing my fridges, identifying materials that they could be produced from and getting feedback from the community members. This enabled me to develop my fridge further to a product that would be suitable to be produced in the townships, using locally sourced materials by community members. I discovered that there was a real need for my product.
The people were really excited by my idea and started to tell their friends about it. The word spread pretty quickly!
What are the necessary ingredients you think one needs to able to start a business in the university or making it successful?
I think you need to be passionate and determined. It isn’t easy, but there is a lot of support out there to help. I always say just have a go, even if you fail, you will still have learnt something in the process.
I know you’ve just graduated from Leeds University, how are you feeling about it?
Excited! It is the end of one chapter and the start of a new one. Although I was able to still combine my studies with my work outside, I always had the pressure of my coursework and exams. Now that pressure has gone, I can explore new projects!
So with that out of the way? What is the next step for you? Are you currently working on another project?
I have recently started working for the inspirational organisation CragRats (www.cragrats.com). CragRats have been around for a while and develop engagement programmes for the youth and adult market. I am working on establishing their not-for-profit entity, CragRats Foundation, with the aim of making it easier for corporate organisations to engage with young people.
It’s still very much early days – but watch this space!
I am also continuing to work on numerous other projects included my inventions, speaking at events and mentoring. It is busy, but then I get bored very easily if I’m not doing things!
What has been your most memorable moment so far?
My time in Africa. I met some amazingly talented and incredible people who were passionate and enthusiastic. It was meeting these people that kept me motivated to work on developing solutions to help solve global problems.
Any tips for any female entrepreneurs out there?
It is an excellent time to be a female entrepreneur. There are a number of initiatives that promote women in business such as the Women in Business Network and Women Unlimited and competitions such as British Female Inventor and Innovators Network (BIFFIN), Women of the Future and Women of the Year awards. As women we should be taking advantage of them all.
Thanks for your time Emily.