We are Alina LaPotin and Nicholas Phillips, civil and mechanical engineering students from the University of Texas at Austin chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World. This year we are very excited to be Co-chairs of the Alternative Energy Challenge! This will be the first year that ESW will host the Alternative Energy Challenge which was previously hosted by the Student Engineering Council with hopes that it will continue to attract motivated engineering students with a passion for alternative energy, creativity, and innovation.
The intent of the competition is for students to create novel ideas for the generation of power using sustainable and renewable methods. In the first phase of the competition, teams will submit a written report detailing their design and the logistics involved in producing it. The top three teams will then be granted a prototyping budget to actually create their device and present it before a panel of judges who will ultimately select a winning team. The competition is run entirely by students, for students, to not only foster innovation in the field of alternative energy but to give competitors the opportunity to gain practical experience in product research and development.
At this stage we are finalizing our budget, and working on publicity so we can announce our first informational session which will be held on February 6th. We would like to thank Michelle Huddleston, a second year Mechanical Engineering Student at UT, for creating this amazing logo for AEC you see on the left.
We are very grateful to Wendy Murphy and IBM Students for a Smarter Planet. We wouldn’t have been able to host the competition this year if it wasn’t for your generous support and continuous commitment to student-led sustainability initiatives.
This is the first blog post by SmRTsolutions. We are a group of Architectural Engineering students from the University of Texas at Austin. Our team is made up of, graduate student, Kristen Cetin, undergraduate students Caitlyn Kallus, a sophomore, and Melissa Flores, a freshman. SmRTsolutions’ project goal is aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of residential buildings and their systems using Real Time data.
With today’s technology, it’s difficult for residential buildings to detect faults or problems in their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, which results in reduced energy efficiency, and their eventual failure. Previous studies have found that up to 70% of residential HVAC units have faults or problems, and that correcting many of these deficiencies alone are predicted to reduce consumption by 8 to 30%. Unfortunately, few research studies have focused on this issue in non-commercial settings.
Our research is focused on using energy consumption data to detect and diagnose the faults in these residential systems. Using modeling software and field-testing, we are currently developing a methodology to accurately model HVAC system performance. Using this field-verified model, faults in the HVAC system will be detected by comparing how HVAC systems actually perform to how they’re supposed to perform. Our goal is to develop a low-cost methodology of faults detection in HVAC units for residential buildings that is cost-effective.
Students for a Smarter Planet is providing some funds to support this initiative.
Alternative Energy Challenge
The Alternative Energy Challenge is an annual competition hosted by Engineers for a Sustainable World of The University of Texas at Austin. The intent of the competition is for students to create novel ideas for the generation of power using sustainable and renewable methods. The competition will focus on creativity and innovation rather than implementation of old technologies. The top three teams will receive funding to create prototypes of their devices. They will present their designs to a panel of faulty, industry, and upperclassmen who will then select the overall winner of the competition.
Students for a Smarter Planet awards were just given to student groups at UT Austin.
BUILDING FAULT DETECTION
Faults and system failures in residential buildings cause excess energy use and negatively affect buildings’ indoor environment. Experiments using UT’s full-scale test house will be conducted, in which common building faults are artificially introduced to identify indicators of these problems in energy consumption data and indoor environmental parameters. Based on these experiments, we plan to develop an algorithm for early detection of these faults. By reducing the occurrence and impact of faults in buildings through their improved detection, we can help reduce energy use in buildings, improve the comfort of occupants, and prevent damage to existing infrastructure.
Early detection of faults help resident reduce their energy use bills and prevents potential damage to building systems.
We will use Energy Simulation Modeling Software (EnergyPlus, EQuest, BEopt), “smart” meter and energy use monitoring equipment, and building environmental sensors (to monitor temperature, relative humidity, etc…). As a result of this project we plan to integrate this “smart” monitoring system into a PC interface, and in the future, a smart phone or other portable device application.
Campus Building Energy Use Reduction
In 2013, students from ESW and ASHRAE teamed with UT’s Energy and Water Conservation program to pilot Longhorn Lights Out (LLO), a program developed to reduce energy by encouraging students, faculty and staff to turn off lights and reduce plug loads on weekends. Our most recent pilot resulted in a reduction in demand of 111 kW, equal to power for 42 homes. To increase participation, we plan to integrate technology into our efforts through the development of a mobile application. We will use this to teach campus members and wider community how to use the app to participate in LLO and other energy conservation activities.