A universal “Energyhub” charger is being developed at OST in Buchs. It will be able to charge up to six devices simultaneously. The goal is to reduce the amount of electronic waste that is produced amid increasing digitalization.

Everything has good and bad sides; that’s also true for digitization. As digital trends accelerate, so does an unwelcome byproduct: Electronic waste. Switzerland produces about 131,000 tons per year. Liechtenstein also increasingly produces vast amounts of electronic waste.

And it’s not getting less, quite the opposite: the trend towards digitization and increased use of electronic devices produces more and more waste. Smartphones in particular generate a lot of electronic waste, as many devices have different connections for charging and thus require several power supply units and charging cables.

To counteract this problem, the Ost, Ostschweizer Fachhochschule, in Buchs, has been developing the so-called “Energyhub” since 2016. Roman Scheuss, the developer of the charger, explains: “The Energyhub is intended to be a compact and universal charger with which up to six devices can be charged simultaneously.” That means more power but less electronic waste. “Whether it’s a notebook, tablet, or smartphone, it doesn’t matter. With the Energyhub, they can all be charged at the same time,” Scheuss explains.

Efficiency is key

The Energyhub uses USB C for the connections, allegedly the most used connector in the future. “This makes it possible to reduce electrical waste and charge different devices quickly,” explains Scheuss. With 150 watts of power distributed over the six outlets, the “Energyhub” has a solid performance.

“During development, we also paid attention to good efficiency, so that the devices can be charged as efficiently as possible,” says Scheuss. Standby losses have been avoided as much as possible, meaning when the “Energyhub” is left plugged in without devices to charge, there is no excess energy consumption. LEDs light up in different colors depending on the charging power.

Approval still outstanding

Before the “Energyhub” is launched on the market, it still has to undergo several tests and safety checks. Only when everything functions perfectly can the compact charger be approved for the market. “Our specimen is still a prototype,” says Scheuss.

This is because work is continuing on the device to optimize it further and achieve even better efficiency. The OST University of Applied Sciences in Buchs and the industrial partner are not entirely alone, as the project has received financial support from Innosuisse.

“About half of the development costs are covered by Innosuisse,” explains Scheuss. In conclusion, he says, “I’m happy to be working on the Energyhub. It’s fun, and I can make my contribution to a better and more sustainable future.”

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