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Development of an Alternative Energy System For Use as an Active Learning Platform

[+] Author Affiliations
Richard B. Mindek, Jr., Said Dini

Western New England College, Springfield, MA

Aaron F. Rickis

CDI Aerospace, Windsor Locks, CT

Paper No. ES2007-36086, pp. 1109-1116; 8 pages
  • ASME 2007 Energy Sustainability Conference
  • ASME 2007 Energy Sustainability Conference
  • Long Beach, California, USA, July 27–30, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: Solar Energy Division and Advanced Energy Systems Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4797-7 | eISBN: 0-7918-3798-X
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME


A demonstration system that employs solar and wind energy to power a fuel cell was recently developed as part of a senior capstone design project. This system demonstrates the essential components of a completely renewable hydrogen recovery system. Using the renewable energy produced from a 80-watt photovoltaic solar panel and a 60-watt wind turbine, an electrolyzer, rated at 65 cm3 per minute, disassociates water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen and oxygen are then recombined into water by the fuel cell, which produces electricity and releases heat in the process. The electricity is used to power a cooling fan installed in the system. The entire system, which is mounted on a mobile cabinet for easy transportability, and to facilitate outdoor testing, includes a control box to regulate the voltage and current into the electrolyzer, as well as a variable resistance box to test and demonstrate the energy efficiencies of the solar panel, wind turbine, electrolyzer, and fuel cell. It was recently incorporated as part of three separate active learning laboratories within a graduate course on alternative and renewable energy. The laboratories allow students to discover the theoretical and practical application of solar energy, wind energy, and fuel cells. This paper describes the development, operation and capability of the alternative energy demonstration system, as well as its utilization in developing the graduate laboratories. Plans for implementing the system in the undergraduate engineering curriculum are also discussed.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME



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