A new age for tuk tuks?

In conversation with Sasiranga De Silva

By Pujanee Galappaththi

Sasiranga De Silva, a young Sri Lankan engineer has created Electric Conversion Kits for tuk tuks.

His tireless efforts in tackling global warming and air pollution got the attention of the United Nations (UN) and thereby, the international community.

The innovation won him a $ 10,000 grant from UN Environment. The grant came from the Asia Pacific low-carbon lifestyles challenge, which supports the youth to come up with cutting-edge ideas for energy-efficient, low-waste, and low-carbon lifestyles.

Sasiranga De Silva is a 33-year-old engineer and a lecturer at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Moratuwa. De Silva has been in love with electric vehicles and motor mechanics since he was a child and believes it to be a possible solution to the environmental problems associated with transport.

With the intention of minimising the harm done to the environment by tuk tuks, De Silva focused on bringing sustainability to tuk tuks. He developed an affordable conversion kit that would allow tuk tuks to run on electric power.
Based around a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the conversion kit is aimed at saving three-wheeler drivers money over time, while reducing harmful emissions in the process.

A significant aspect of this conversion kit is that it will allow tuk tuks to cover 110 km on a single charge. While the lithium-ion batteries used in the electric kit can be charged through the few chargers spread across Colombo, he further stated that the three-wheeler owners will be provided electric chargers that can be connected to regular sockets to enable charging the three-wheelers overnight.

We had a chat with De Silva on his achievement and here’s what we found out.

Q: How does your job help you with these innovations?

I studied automotive engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and am now a full-time lecturer at the Mechanical Engineering Department at Moratuwa University, so this has been my passion for the longest time. I love what I do, so it motivates me to discover innovative ways to improve and advance the way things work.

Q: What does it feel like to have your work and efforts recognised?

It’s a wonderful feeling. When I was starting off, I decided to take a risk and use my savings, and that paid off, so I am very happy.

Q: What was the inspiration behind this project?

There were three key inspiration points that drove me to this project: The cost-effective outcome of this project for the drivers, the sustainability of it, and my immense interest in the field.

Q: Why do you think we don’t get more creativity in professionals in this country?

I think it is because of the fellowship mindset we have. Especially when it comes to innovations, there is a need for start-up capital and most people are reluctant to take the risk.

However, I have to say that there is a vast improvement now. People are more willing to take risks and I hope that in another 10 years the situation will be completely different.

Q: Will we come across any other projects in the future?

I am working on a few new projects and I am excited about making them a success. Specifically, there is a motor car I am working on and I believe that would be a success story as well.