Dr. Chong Wen Tong, a lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University of Malaya, in Malaysia, has addressed the issues of health, energy and safety specific to South-East Asia by developing the Eco-greenergyTM system of smart, multi-functional street lights. The first prototypes have already been installed on the university campus and in the surrounding neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur.
Tell us something about the Eco-greenergyTM system.
Dr. Chong Wen Tong: The system is a combination of a LED lamp for street lighting and a hybrid system that produces solar and wind energy, all in a compact design. The design and assembly of the wind turbine are innovative, because it produces energy irrespective of the direction of the wind, a feature that makes it well suited to an urban environment. At night, it illuminates the street by reflecting light. Thanks to the energy it produces and the scalable design of the street light, other functions can also be added: mosquito traps, sensors to monitor flooding, mobile phone chargers, warning beacons for the emergency services, etc.
What was your guiding idea when designing this street light?
Dr. Chong Wen Tong: Enthusiasm to make things work better, which has always been my source of inspiration. I like designing self-sufficient objects, with built-in self-maintenance that also solve concrete problems and improve quality of life.
At the university, I encourage my students to come up with solutions to these everyday problems, most of which also make a contribution to sustainable development. Examples include a wall garden that helps to purify and cool the air inside a room, a wind turbine with crossed axes that can generate energy from multi-directional air flows, or roof designs that optimise ventilation in lofts and reduce the indoor temperature.
Do you think that there is a close link between the sustainable city and the smart city?
Dr. Chong Wen Tong: In my opinion, a smart city is necessarily sustainable. Smartness coherently links the reduction in the carbon footprint to energy efficiency and water or waste management. Smart cities also offer their inhabitants a liveable environment, which includes accessibility and health protection and makes it easier for citizens to engage.
Find the full article in the second issue of open_resource magazine: “Shaping resourceful cities”