Category Archives: Solar Energy

Solar heat converted to energy

Solar Powered Stirling Engine

Robert Stirling was a Scottish minister who invented the first practical example of a closed cycle air engine in 1816, and it was suggested by Fleeming Jenkin as early as 1884 that all such engines should therefore generically be called Stirling engines. An important consequence of this ideal cycle is that it does not predict Carnot efficiency. Particular details of the receiver are not important insofar as general principles of the present invention are concerned since the receiver is essentially conventional. On top of that you need a low torque alternator-generator with cogging effect at minimum or zero.

stirlingengine

He called this cycle the ‘pseudo-Stirling cycle’ or ‘ideal adiabatic Stirling cycle’. Rider’s, Robinson’s, or Heinrici’s (hot) air engine.

The usual tendency to stirling engine design has been to use high temperatures and pressures in order to pursue performance and specific power competitive with conventional systems. This approach results in problems of special materials and advanced technologies. The reflective mirrors are formed into a parabolic shape using stamped sheet metal similar to the hood of a car.  A Stirling engine can function in reverse as a heat pump for heating or cooling. Additionally, the advent of transistor radios and their much lower power requirements meant that the original rationale for the set was disappearing. The revised design also has fewer mirrors — 40 instead of 80. When the working gas contacts the cold side, its pressure drops below atmospheric pressure and the atmosphere pushes on the piston providing more energy to the generator.

Available power is 52 kW a shutter is available to adjust power
Available power is 52 kW a shutter is available to adjust power

Thermoelectric power generation

In the United States, 90 percent of electricity comes from thermoelectric power plants—coal, nuclear, natural gas, and oil—that require cooling. The PowerPot has no moving parts or batteries, and since the thermoelectric technology is built into the bottom of the pot it can produce electricity from a wide variety of heat sources. “Converting waste heat into electric power, for example, using vehicle exhaust, is a near-term ‘green’ application for such materials.”

The PowerPot runs a light by converting heat to DC electricity
The PowerPot runs a light by converting heat to DC electricity

Generators have been constructed to use solar, natural gas, propane, butane, kerosene, jet fuels, and wood, to name  a few heat sources. The device generates electricity via the Seebeck Effect, where electricity is produced from a temperature differential applied across the device. Working within these limits, however, it is possible to fabricate custom modules that are particularly suited for standard use.

Of course, everything has its limitations, but with a unit the size of the one in the following video, you’ll easily be able to power small gadgets you have around your home. Be aware that there are practical limits on element geometry due to the fragility of crystalline Bismuth telluride material. Also be aware that the Bismuth melts at 520.7 °F so too much heat will melt the units. 

Thermoelectric waste heat recovery is the process of recapturing this lost heat and converting it to electrical power. By using the modules “in reverse,” however, whereby a temperature differential is applied across the faces of the module, it is possible to generate electrical power. A bigger unit would serve higher purposes.

Basic-schematic-for-a-thermoelectric-generator.-Graphic-from-CalTech.
If you give this unit electricity it causes cold to move to one side and heat to the other. We run this in the opposite direction to create electricity. heating the cool side and cooling the hot side.

 

Hybrid Solar Lighting

Light from the sun is collected and piped through fiber optics to provide natural lighting for a health benefits and to reduce your carbon footprint.
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Off-grid home ends year-long study with surplus energy

Net-zero energy test home ends year-long study with surplus energy

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Braving a harsh winter with snow-covered solar panels, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF) in Washington DC has come up trumps in a year-long study of its energy harvesting capabilities. Located on campus at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), researchers used computer simulation to replicate the energy consumption of a family of four. At the end of its first 12 months, there was a large enough surplus to power an electric car for 1,440 miles (2,317 km).

The 2,700 ft sq (252 sq m) two-story construction was developed to look like a regular home, but function as a laboratory for clean energy research. Much like the Honda Smart Home, NIST’s effort combines stable ground temperatures with geothermal systems to minimize heating and cooling loads throughout the building. Another factor in overall energy efficiency is a doubling of insulation levels, sealed by special sheeting that reportedly heals itself when pierced.

“The most important difference between this home and a Maryland code-compliant home is the improvement in the thermal envelope – the insulation and air barrier,” says NIST mechanical engineer Mark Davis.

On July 1 2013, the research team began the experiment by moving a virtual family into the home. A computer simulator syndicated the energy consumption with that of a typical American family of four, the inhabitants going about everyday activities such as taking showers, watching TV and charging laptops. There was more at play than a life-sized game of The Sims, however, with the researchers able to gain realistic insights into the energy efficiency and how viable planting such a home into a real-life American neighborhood could be.

The energy surplus and the home’s claim to net-zero living was compounded by a stretch of severe weather. For 38 days through winter, the 32 photovoltaic panels were largely covered in snow and ice, hampering their ability to harvest energy from the sun. But over the 12 month period, the home generated 13,577 kWh of energy. This surpassed the virtual family’s energy usage by 491 kWh, an excess that could in theory be directed toward an electric vehicle or back into the grid.

“We made it, and by a convincing margin,” said Hunter Fanney, the mechanical engineer who leads NZERTF-based research. “From here on in, our job will be to develop tests and measurements that will help to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s housing stock and support the development and adoption of cost-effective, net-zero energy designs and technologies, construction methods and building codes.”

Despite boasting the aesthetics of a typical suburban house, adoption of the technologies used will largely come down to cost. NIST estimates that fitting out a similar-sized house with all the bells and whistles of its test home would cost around US$162,700. On the upside, it puts savings in electricity costs at $4,373 for the year.

Further research will center on how the measurements of the home can improve its energy efficiency and addressing the difference in up-front costs and long term savings. NIST is hopeful its findings will lead to improved energy efficiency standards as a resource for builders, regulators and home buyers.

The video below gives an overview of the project.

Source: NIST

The War on Renewable Energy

The War on Renewable Energy | Jesse Ventura Off The Grid – Ora TV

There is so much more to say on this subject it is not funny. We as humans need to be using more renewable Energies to help get rid of our dependency on oil.
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The Earth is a mess! And Jesse Ventura knows we have to clean up Washington before we can start on our planet. So today on #OffTheGrid, he’s running down the Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity and all of the other Poll-Cats waging war on renewable energy. How do you stay green? Tell the Governor about it at ora.tv/offthegrid/askjesse.

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The Solar Ship

The Solar Ship is a little bit airplane, a little bit blimp and all good intentions. The hybrid dirigible combines the cockpit and landing gear of a plane with the top of a blimp, the latter of which is lined with solar panels. The green vehicle can take off from and land on short runways, an ideal feature in a craft designed to deliver supplies to areas hit by natural disasters or with otherwise rough terrains. The ship will come in three sizes, and the company will be offering up more public demonstrations next year. If you can’t wait that long, however, you can check out a test run after the jump.solar-ship-over-mountains

 

Purdue University Solar-Powered Motorcycle

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University student who created a solar-powered motorcycle is launching a club to help likeminded students expand environmentally friendly transportation options.solar-cycle

Physics major Tony Danger Coiro, a junior from South Bend, Ind., received a provisional patent for his motorcycle that uses solar energy to cut his transportation costs down to well less than a penny per mile. The lead acid batteries also can charge from plug-in AC current.

After purchasing a 1978 Suzuki for $50, Coiro spent $2,500 redesigning and retrofitting the bike, which gives him a range of up to 24 miles per charge and top speed of 45 miles per hour.

“The riding experience is surreal,” Coiro said. “I get instant, silent, constant acceleration that outpaces urban traffic. It’s like riding a magic carpet.”

Coiro co-launched the Purdue Electric Vehicles Club with Jim Danielson and Sean Kleinschmidt, two sophomores from suburban Chicago. Danielson and Kleinschmidt spent their summer after high school converting a 1987 Porsche 924S they picked up for $500 to electric power. Kleinschmidt, a mechanical engineering major, translated that success into a summer internship at Tesla, where he helped develop batteries for the makers of the world-class, all-electric sports car. Danielson, who is majoring in electrical and computer engineering, spent his summer developing motor control electronics for Electro-Motive Diesel, which designs and manufactures diesel-electric locomotives.

“Purdue Electric Vehicles will encourage enthusiasm for, and knowledge and development of, electric vehicles by students and the community,” Coiro said.

Coiro’s motorcycle and the electric Porsche and will be displayed on campus at the Stewart Center bike lane on Oval Drive from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 6) as they compete in Purdue Green Week’s alternative energy vehicle show. Coiro, Danielson and Kleinschmidt will be at the show to talk to visitors about their cars and the club.

Coiro said the Purdue EV Club will patent and commercialize its breakthrough technologies and feed proceeds back into research and development of new prototypes. Coiro is already designing a 100-horsepower motorcycle that will travel up to 100 miles per charge, top 100 mph and draw even more of its energy from the sun. The all-wheel-drive bike would include motors in each hub and no drive trains.

“I’ve learned a lot building this first bike, and now I’m ready to make a game-changer,” Coiro said.

Coiro, Danielson and Kleinschmidt oversaw construction of the 17 electric race karts that students built for the first-ever electric vehicle grand prix, held at Purdue this spring.motorcycle

In 2011 that race is expected to draw student teams from throughout the Midwest. The race was created by Purdue’s Indiana Advanced Electric Vehicle Training and Education Consortium to demonstrate the possibilities of electric vehicles and train a new breed of young engineers to improve them and reshape the auto industry in Indiana and beyond.

“Electric vehicles are four to five times more efficient than internal combustion engines – that’s a big difference,” Coiro said. “They’re not the solution to our energy problems, but they will be an increasingly bigger piece of the puzzle.”

When he graduates, Coiro plans to launch a company that develops electric vehicles. Eventually, he foresees launching a not-for-profit energy company.

“Gas is not in infinite supply, so we need to go to another energy source in the future, be it nuclear fusion or fission, solar or wind,” Coiro said. “It’s going to be a lot easier to charge an electrical vehicle off of the grid.”

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