PlanetSolar Boat

PlanetSolar_boat

Reference: PlanetSolar

A solar powered boat, called the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, is a boat the runs completely on solar energy. It has sailed around the world using the power of the sun. The swiss team that built the boat designed it with the goal of demonstrating the potential of renewable energy.

The boat has since evolved from showcasing the power of photovoltaic solar energy as a source of transportation to also providing a mobile platform for communication, scientific studies, and education.

The boat is a catamaran. It has 512 square-meters of solar panels on its surface, with 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries which, when fully charged, provide enough energy for the boat for 72 hours of travel at night when solar energy is unavailable. It has two electric motors with a power capacity of 60 kilowatts each, and has a maximum speed of 26 km/h. It is 35 meters long and 23 meters wide. The average power consumption of the boat is 20 kilowatts (17 kW for the electric motors and 3 kW for use on board by the occupants). Other technical specs for the boat are given here.

The applicable standard from the NGSS is:

HS-ETS1-3 (high school). Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Discuss this solar powered boat with respect to the standard.

Why is a catamaran design used for the boat?

Posted in NGSS High School Engineering, Solar Energy | Leave a comment

Topic Assortment

Here are some cool topics which high school students can delve into. Unlike other posts where the URLs and information are provided, here the student will need to search for information online to answer the questions for each topic.

1. DC powered air-conditioner by Sharp Corporation

Why is this air conditioner useful when used with photovoltaic solar panels?

2. BioPower Systems wave energy generator

How does this wave energy generator extract energy from waves?

3. Small-scale hydro-electric power in rural areas

How can small-scale hydro-electric power benefit local communities in rural areas?

4. General Electric gearless wind turbines

What are the advantages of gearless wind turbines, and how do they work?

5. University of Sheffield engineers use ultrasonic waves to determine when bearings inside wind turbines fail

What are ultrasonic waves, and how is this technology used to predict bearing failure?

6. The company Heliae uses oval glass tubes to boost algae growth

How does the oval shape of the glass tubes increase algae growth?

7. Thermal hydrolysis system at the Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant

What is hydrolysis and how does this plant produce energy?

8. Stanford engineers invent transparent coating to boost solar cell efficiency

How does this coating boost efficiency?

9. London company Bio-Bean converts coffee grounds into heating pellets

How are coffee grounds converted into heating pellets?

10. Researchers at the University of Michigan improve solar cell efficiency using kirigami

How does this technology work?

11. Phase-change energy storage technology developed by the University of South Australia

How does this technology work?

Posted in Biomass Energy, Energy Storage, High School General, Solar Energy, Wave Energy, Wind Energy | Leave a comment

Heating Homes With Computer Servers

A company in the Netherlands called Nerdalize is using the heat generated by computers to heat homes. Typically, computer server systems are placed in large buildings which must then be kept cool to keep the computers from overheating, which occurs when you have many computers placed in close proximity to each other. What this company does is instead place these server computers in individual homes; the heat from which can then be used to heat the homes. This is more efficient from an energy point of view since you don’t require additional energy to keep the computers cool, using cooling systems. You just use the heat generated by the computers to heat the homes, which is especially useful in the winter. In the summer the Nerdalize computers are designed to expel their heat to the outdoors since homeowners do not require heating in the summer.

So rather than businesses housing a large number of computers in a large building, and paying the expenses related to that, they are placed in numerous homes, which avoids certain costs, such as cooling and building costs.

Businesses requiring large computing resources can buy these computing resources from Nerdalize, and Nerdalize shares part of this money with the homeowners housing the computers, under a leasing agreement.

Nerdalize says that computing resources purchased through them can be up to 30-55% cheaper than what competitors offer using the typical system of housing computers in large buildings.

Nerdalize pays for the electricity to run the computer servers, and the homeowner gets heat (for free) and in addition gets money from Nerdalize.

Distributed computing systems in homes creates an opportunity for their energy to come from distributed solar (such as rooftop solar panel installations). Contrast this to a single building housing hundreds or even thousands of computers. There is no way the power consumption by such a large number of computers can be met with solar panels placed on the building. But a single home containing solar panels can produce enough electricity from these panels to power a few computers.

Also, there’s an added security element as well. A single building housing many computers is more vulnerable than having those computers housed in many different locations in people’s homes.

The applicable standard from the NGSS is:

HS-ETS1-3 (high school). Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Discuss this method of heating homes, and the associated energy-use efficiency, with respect to the standard.


Posted in NGSS High School Engineering, Solar Energy | Leave a comment