A strong wind is brewing the perfect cup of tea

The perfect time for a cuppa - when the wind blows. From left: Dr Pete Newman, Dr Maria Angela Ferrario and Dr Will Simm.
The perfect time for a cuppa - when the wind blows. From left: Dr Pete Newman, Dr Maria Angela Ferrario and Dr Will Simm.

Researchers at Lancaster University have just designed a new piece of kit which determines the optimum time for a cuppa in terms of impact on the environment.

Windy Brew, as it is affectionately known, does what it says on the tin. It only allows the kettle to boil when the University’s own wind turbine is producing electricity.

Simple but very effective, the Windy Brew uses a cost effective, credit card sized, single board computer (a Raspberry Pi) and an off-the-shelf, radio controlled plug socket. It is the brainchild of Dr Will Simm, Dr Peter Newman, Dr Maria Angela Ferrario and Dr Stephen Forshaw.

The university’s Information Systems Services unit provided a live feed of data from the turbine direct to the research team giving a second by second report of energy outputs.

When the university turbine is generating power, the Raspberry Pi activates the radio controlled plug socket which in turn switches on the kettle and sends a tweet when it boils – the perfect ‘green’ brew.

“This equipment, unlike others, is not about sourcing a cost effective energy supply,” said Dr Newman.

“It’s not about reducing energy consumption but it is about using energy more intelligently when it is more renewable. Reduced costs are a bi-product benefit.”