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Labs and Research

Thermoelectric Power Generation; Faculty: Dr. Soloiu, Dr. Calamas, Mechanical Engineering

Biologically-inspired fins, for the first time, will be used to effectively extract waste thermal energy from exhaust gases. The fins, inspired by Sierpinski fractal patterns, have never been studied in a forced convection environment and could result in an order of magnitude increase in effectiveness when compared to traditional straight rectangular fins

Course Objectives: The objectives of this module are to: present the basic principles of thermoelectric power generation including; introduce thermoelectric devices and their performance; and introduce basic heat transfer concepts as related to thermoelectric power generation.  (HS-PS3-1)

Educational Outcomes: Participants will demonstrate an understanding of thermoelectric power generation, the Seebeck effect, Peltier effect, and one-dimensional heat conduction.

Laboratory: Renewable Energy Laboratory, Biologically-Inspired Thermal Transport Laboratory

Equipment: Thermoelectric modules, heat sinks, thermocouples, thin film heaters, infrared camera, data acquisition modules.

Wind Energy; Faculty: Dr. M. Rahman, Mechanical Engineering

The purpose of this proposed module is to develop an innovative and relatively efficient Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) model design by conducting wind tunnel dynamic tests on various VAWT scale models. In addition, the design of the VAWT models will be optimized using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

Course objectives: The objectives of this module are to: gain an understanding of why the use of wind energy is a sustainable; gain knowledge of the operation of modern wind turbines; learn the historical and societal perspectives regarding the use of wind turbines; and develop an awareness of the environmental and economic issues associated with wind energy.

Laboratory: Wind Energy Research Laboratory

Existing Equipment: Subsonic wind tunnel, pressure transducers, static torque sensor with meter, dynamic torque sensor with meter, data acquisition system and various wind turbine model kits.

Educational outcomes: Participants will be able to assess the viability of wind energy as a sustainable energy source, describe the reliability and performance of wind turbines, and understand the historical and societal perspectives regarding the use of wind turbines for electrical power generation.

Solar Collectors; Faculty: Dr. Calamas, Mechanical Engineering; Dr. Alba, Electrical Engineering

Project 3 Biologically-inspired flow networks, for the first time, will be used to efficiently transport thermal energy obtained from the sun to homes for domestic water heating applications. The biologically-inspired flow networks could increase the efficiency of flat plate collectors by reducing the power required to transport heat exchanger fluids through flat plate collectors.

Course objectives: The objectives of this module are to: present the basic principles of flat plate solar collectors for use in commercial and domestic water heating applications; present basic solar energy concepts including energy balances, incident solar radiation, and solar thermal radiation; and finally present the important of incident solar radiation measurements.

Educational outcomes: Participants will demonstrate an understanding of flat plate solar collectors, energy balances at the surface, thermal radiation, and solar energy measurement techniques.

Laboratory: Biologically-Inspired Thermal Transport Laboratory

Existing Equipment: Kipp and Zonen Solys Sun Tracker, Pyrheliometer, Pyranometer, and Data Acquisition Module. Stiebel Eltron Flat Plate Collector and Flowstar Pump. McMaster-Carr Plate Heat Exchanger. Omega Differential Pressure Transducer, Flowmeter, and Thermocouples.

From Smart Grid to Smart Home; Faculty: Dr. Haddad, Electrical Engineering

A control algorithm for minimizing the wasted power in smart homes will be developed. In addition, this project will investigate the next generation smart home model as a distributed generation (pico-grid) which includes renewable power generation and storage through electric vehicles. This will help improve the efficiency of power utilization and will advance the knowledge and understanding of the future sustainable, distributed, smart grid systems.

Course objectives: The objectives of this module are to: introduce contemporary topics related to distributed generation, micro-grids, renewable energy sources, and smart homes applications. The automation techniques involved in Smart Grid technologies will also be introduced.

Educational outcomes: Participants will demonstrate a working knowledge from the basic concepts of power systems to the inherent elements of computational intelligence including power generation, transmission, distribution, decision support systems, smart metering, optimization, and renewable energy sources. They will develop practical skills using instrumentation in laboratory-based exercises.

Solar Tracking Systems & DAQ; Faculty: Dr. Alba, Electrical Engineering

The transformative research objective of this module is to expose the participants to scientific reasoning techniques. In particular, the deductive reasoning process will be exercised. The reasoning process will start with research questions and hypotheses. Participants will be tasked to design and develop a solar tracking system. Participants will analyze data from their solar tracking system to confirm (or not) their original hypothesis.

Course objectives: The objectives of this module are to: introduce the use mathematics to model the movement of the sun during the day; employ the model to control a solar tracker; and learn about open-loop and closed-loop controllers and how to design and implement the controllers using MATLAB and LabVIEW software. Participants will be taught fundamental concepts of data acquisition through the use of LabVIEW which they can utilize in their research projects.

Laboratory: Personal computers with MATLAB and LabVIEW software.

Existing equipment for the project: Pyrometer to measure the solar radiation, light dependent resistors (LDR), data acquisition systems (NI-MyDAQ). Double-axis tracking structure, linear actuators, solar panel.

Educational Outcomes: Participants will apply mathematical models to describe the movement of the sun during the day. They will design controllers to position a solar panel and maintain the best orientation relative to the sun’s rays to maximize the power generation.

REQUIRED Laboratory Safety and Health Effects of Emissions; Dr. Williams, Mechanical Engineering.

Course objectives: The objectives of this module are to:  address safety and accident prevention in the laboratory and to present safe set up and operation of laboratory apparatus, equipment, and machines.

Educational outcomes: Participants will be able to conduct laboratory experiments safely and recognize the potential hazards associated with their research projects.

Last updated: 2/4/2013