The Sustainable BBQ Brief

The first of 4, 3 week projects, to design a portable BBQ that uses an alternative energy source to bottled gas or charcoal. From speaking to lecturers and peers these briefs are fairly flexible, allowing me to change the overall definition of the project and see how it can be manipulated to create something more interesting.

So what already exists:

Figure 1 (Referenced Below)

As you can see, some of these design already use alternate energy sources, including electric for grill heating or electric of water bath heating. So I thought about what every one else thinks about at this point, and that’s solar. However, solar BBQ concepts, that include a portability option, already exist:

Figure 2 (Referenced Below)

These designs use the heat energy absorbed from the sun and reflect it from mirrored panels into a focused area. The large amount of energy reflected, heats up these areas to a high temperature to allow for cooking. From further research, these products all require lots of sunlight for a long duration, typically on a clear or lightly cloudy day. So what other fuel sources are there?


Figure 3 (Referenced Below)

Biomass! Something that is formed from multiple sources as shown in figure. I could implement the use of these fuels into a new design. Of course I am aware that the best way to make the simplest BBQ is simply by starting a fire, using wood (a form of biomass), however what are the issues with using biomass fuels?

As it turns out 2.5 billion people around the world still use biomass as their main source of fuel for cooking. This accounts for 90% of household energy consumption. With these figures still set to increase to over 2.7 billion by 2030, that’s a third of the current population.

The major negative from this is that using biomass creates high levels of pollutants and nasty particulates that can cause life long or fatal incidents. The graph in figure 4 shows that the deaths from biomass fuel over weighed the deaths caused by Malaria. With figure 5 showing that India was the most hit by this with almost 500,000 people in a year.


Figure 4 (Referenced Below)


Figure 5 (Referenced Below)

From this I aim to research what is used in the developing countries and why these statistics are so high. I will have to consider the different cultures that a new product of system would be used in. This will help me to understand why they do what they do and to see if there is a simple way to improve the situation.

This has helped me to devise a new brief:

Due to amount of fatal incidents that occur using biomass, a portable cooking facility (or system) will be designed to remove these issues.

  • The design must contain a filtration system to remove any particulates made form burning biomass.
  • The design must be cheap to manufacture for easy distribution in developing countries.
  • The design must have an implement of portability.

More on this to follow!


Figure 1: (2018). Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].
& Blue Digger. (n.d.). Folding Portable BBQ Grill with Carrier. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].
& eBay. (n.d.). Yellowstone Mini Folding Portable BBQ Barbeque Picnic Travel Camping Grill | eBay. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].
& (n.d.). Electric Barbeque Grill. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].
& Weber. (n.d.). Smokey Joe® Portable BBQ | Charcoal Range | Weber Australia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].

Figure 2: (2018).  [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].
& GoSun. (n.d.). GoSun Grill®. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].
& Solar Cooking. (n.d.). Wilson Solar Grill. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].

Figure 3:
Zafar, S. (n.d.). Biomass Energy and Sustainability. [online] BioEnergy Consult. Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].

Figure 4:
ENERGY FOR COOKING IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. (2006). [ebook] International Energy Agency. Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].

Figure 5:
ENERGY FOR COOKING IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. (2006). [ebook] International Energy Agency. Available at: [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].



So many to choose from?

Starting our final major project for uni, with some many decisions to make. The choices are simply between option and 1 and option 2, with the differences of each being fairly minimal.

Option 1.
A full 12 week project based on a found need for new design. This includes a full product design specification, thorough design process and a well thought-out outcome.

Option 2:
A choice of 4 different, 3 week projects for a choice of 14. Again each project must include a fully thought out design process and outcome.
The 14:

  • 1 Great outdoors – furniture included space in the back of CSAD.
  • 2 Plastic-less food packaging.
  • 3 The factory of the future – manufacturing process’s more sustainable.
  • 4 Batch numbers of one – speeding up build up time of products.
  • 5 Personalized food.
  • 6 Increasing speed to market.
  • 7 Zero physical prototyping – is prototyping necessary?
  • 8 Co-Bots – in domestic environments.
  • 9 Big Data – where or what is the next big data development.
  • 10 Digital Twin.
  • 11 Seeing is believing – modular exhibition system for CSAD.
  • 12 POD, a modular meeting space.
  • 13 Sustainable BBQ-ing.
  • 14 Student Choice – 3 week version of option 1.

At first I thought option 1 would be perfect for me, follow on from one of the 2 live projects that have been completed recently and fully develop a much more coherent outcome. On the other hand option 2 would offer wide range of product development and a varied portfolio after university. Time to think.

Figure 1

Almost a day later and good time to sleep on it. I realised it would be best for me to go forward with Option 2, selecting 4 of the choices that would offer me the best possible outcome, both for my creative interests and set me in the path for possible career opportunities.

So which choices?
Looking back at previous projects, I believed it was best to stay away from working with disabilities as I am already covering this for my other major project. Then in terms of manufacturing processes and providing sustainable and more efficient practices, my technical report covers these topics extensively.

This leaves me with:

  • 1 Great outdoors – furniture included space in the back of CSAD.
  • 2 Plastic-less food packaging.
  • 5 Personalized food.
  • 8 Co-Bots – in domestic environments.
  • 9 Big Data – where or what is the next big data development.
  • 10 Digital Twin.
  • 11 Seeing is believing – modular exhibition system for CSAD.
  • 12 POD, a modular meeting space.
  • 13 Sustainable BBQ-ing.
  • 14 Student Choice – 3 week version of option 1.

But I can only choose 4… As stated previously a project that will peak my creative interests would be something that sparks a higher level of motivation, designing something that will be more enjoyable to me. Could this project also incorporate my work as a student ambassador, making it more accessible for me to gather research on the university for the CSAD based projects?

Figure 2

So after this time to think and understanding which project would best suit me. Here are my options (subject to change if appropriate ideas and research is not reached):

  • 11 Seeing is believing – modular exhibition system for CSAD.
    For its link with exhibitions that I will doing for CSAD as student ambassador, good research can be collected on what is needed and how it will work. Developing this for other markets outside CSAD will also help to broaden the market.
  • 12 POD, a modular meeting space.
    Something that interest me, in the future how will meetings be conducted and how can a new design be created to assist with this. Also the specifications that are implemented here, max 4 people capacity, maximum amount of floor space allowed could make for a very technical design.
  • 13 Sustainable BBQ-ing.
    My days as a scout leader always had me thinking of projects to do with the outdoors and how we could make them better. What about a new kind of BBQ that uses water bath technology or a durable BBQ for uses in developing countries that cant afford the basic cooking utensils?
  • 14 Student Choice – 3 week version of option 1.
    Choosing this one allow a free space to be as creative or as technical as i wish. Possibly returning to one of the very enjoyable 24 hours projects, or seeing what other ideas may spark from the work to come.


Headline Image: (2015). Which Way to Quality Assurance? | Nutritional Outlook. [online image] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].

Figure 1: (2018). Thinking Time – EVERY DAY SHOULD BE FUN. [online image] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].

Figure 2: Mehta, K. (2017). The Democratization of Enterprise Knowledge and Learning – Training Industry. [online image] Training Industry. Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].

Zest for Leisure

The next industry run project, an interesting brief, a great opportunity, a lot of work and only 24 hours to do it.

The brief:
To design one of the following:

  • Garden Planter
  • Garden Arch
  • Piece of furniture

For one of these Markets:

  • Family Focused
  • Convenience Gardeners
  • Garden Prouds

We were informed that the design must consider flat packing, easy assembly and would primarily be made from pine wood, due the company’s standard materials.

How it all went:
As this was an independent design project, I decided it as best to try and combine each of the products to produce a full range of products. First off I wanted to see what the company were already producing and how I could develop the aesthetics to fit it with a new market.

z4l products
Figure 1

From this, I put together my own sketches to develop a range, based on form or combination of function through one product.


Figure 3

As shown here there was a drive to develop something that was new. An innovative idea, that look different to the standard garden furniture would add something to the market place, and hopefully engage with buyers on new level.

Using locally sourced materials.
From this I then thought about how slate is very nice and upmarket materials and that using this, could help to aim the product at the ‘garden proud’ market, having something that looks pleasing and long-lasting.
So how would Zest 4 Leisure obtain such slate? Through Welsh Slate, a company based in Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda. Where high quality slate in quarried and can produce refined looking slate as shown below. This could be used to create nicely tiles sections in my design.

weslh slate
Figure 3


Presenting Ideas:
From the quick presentation that was given to the design team of the company, it was agreed to go forward with a modular design, that could incorporate all 3 products, with a range aesthetic.

A late night and a final concept:
Thanks to the late opening times at the university I was able to stay late to process that days research and develop a final concept. This was the outcome that was reached:

Figure 4

As you can see the design uses the ranged aesthetic, with each piece consisting of pine wood and slate. The range is: a fold away seat (middle), a raised planter bed (either side of the seat) and an archway (either end). The archways were the focal point of my design, with the image below showing how it consists of 3 panels with embedded slate. These panels are slotted together using a Mortise and Tenon joint and allows for flat packing. The top panel on the arch could also be used as the bed panel for the raised planter making it a more sustainable and more cost effective design.

Figure 5

Upon reflection, time was definitely my enemy on this project. As you can see I was unable to produce a fully developed flat packing range for all the products, nor was i able to produce situational image to show how the chair would work using ropes, and how the raised planter would be stabilised using correct fixtures. However, this project has been thoroughly enjoyable and a great insight into a different company with different values and products to others I have worked with. In the long term, given the chance, I would like to develop this idea and find out whether or not it would be plausible to manufacture for the market.


Figure 1: (2016). Zest 4 Leisure go double decker at Solex. [online image] Available at: [Accessed 3 Feb. 2018].

Figure 2: Image Authors Own

Figure 3: Welsh Slate Products. (2017). Slate flagstones and floor tiles – Welsh Slate Products. [online image] Available at: [Accessed 3 Feb. 2018].

Figure 4: Image Authors Own

Figure 5: Image Authors Own