Archive for the ‘Energy News’ Category

FSEC Research Presented at 2014 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

FSEC researchers are presenting their research findings this week at the 2014 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Pacific Grove, CA. Check out their research publications:

3D view of exhaust fan

One study met ASHRAE 62.2 levels of ventilation with a high quality, quiet exhaust fan rated for continuous runtime, with an insulated exhaust duct to limit condensation.

What are the implications of mechanically introducing humid outside air into residential buildings, compared to the indoor air quality benefits?

Take a look at the results of a study of 10 homes in Gainesville, FL that includes impact on energy use, comfort, durability, and cost.

 

In another study of mechanical ventilation in homes, two lab homes, constructed to represent characteristics of typical existing Florida homes, were monitored. They were configured with tight and leaky building envelopes, and with and without mechanical ventilation. Simulation results of high performance new homes with mechanical ventilation, and typical older homes with and without air tightening and mechanical ventilation, were also presented.

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UCF Professor Wins Research Incentive Award

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

By Danielle Daniel

Congratulations to Dr. Nahid Mohajeri, who received a University of Central Florida (UCF) 2012-2013 Research Incentive Award in recognition of her exceptional research efforts. Dr. Mohajeri is an associate research professor at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).

Professor Nahid Mohajeri

Each year, UCF recognizes faculty members and research staff who have an outstanding research, scholarly, or creative record that advances the body of knowledge in their field.

“I did not get here all by myself,” states Mohajeri, in response to receiving the award. “I have been helped, guided, and given opportunities by many people during my tenure at FSEC that I will forever be grateful,” she explains.

Dr. Mohajeri’s recent contributions to the research community include the development of highly durable proton exchange composite membranes for fuel cells, a technology based on the addition of cerium oxide nanoparticles to the membrane. When tested, this innovative approach   improved fuel cells’ membrane stability and performance, resulting in a sevenfold decrease in the open circuit voltage decay rate compared to the baseline membrane. Membranes are at the heart of hydrogen fuel cell technology, and by increasing their durability, goals for developing fuel cells as a reliable, alternate energy source are attainable.

Other accomplishments include the creation of a chemochromic hydrogen leak detection tool known as “Smart Paint,” which was used by NASA to visually detect colorless and odorless hydrogen leaks. Furthermore, Dr. Mohajeri discovered a new class of catalysts for the hydrolytic cleavage of ammonia borane, one of the promising classes of chemical hydrides for hydrogen storage. She has authored and co-authored more than 30 scientific publications and has received seven patents (awarded and applied). In addition to her research endeavors, Dr. Mohajeri says she considers it an honor as a professor to educate and mentor “the next generation of scientists.”

Regarding future contributions to energy research, Dr. Mohajeri’s diverse background has enabled her to work in various energy research areas. However, one focus in particular has garnered her attention: “The area of soft materials, such as polymers, for energy storage or energy efficiency technologies holds a special place in my overall interests in energy research,” she states.

Solar Electric System Provides Emergency Power and Teaching Tool for Haines City High School

Friday, May 17th, 2013

By Sherri Shields

COCOA, May 17, 2013 – Students, teachers and the community of Haines City will reap multiple benefits from the new 10,000-watt photovoltaic (PV) system at Haines City High School. The PV system with battery backup will provide emergency power during an outage, reduce daily electricity costs to the school, and serve as a learning resource.

Haines City High School celebrates new 10,000 watt solar electric system with ribbon cutting and solar workshop for teachers. (From left to right, Mike Vergona, Vergona-Bowersox Electric Inc.; Caroline Weaver, Polk County Energy Manager; Peter DeNapoli, Solar World Eastern Region Manager; Patricia Butler, Haines City High School Principal; Stephen Scheloske, Haines City High School Assistant Principal ; Sherri Shields, FSEC Communications; Susan Schleith, FSEC SunSmart E-Shelter Program Manager. Photo Credit: Nick Waters

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida (UCF), held a dedication ceremony and solar workshop for teachers to celebrate the installation of the 42-panel PV system at Haines City High School on Wednesday, May 15th. Coordinated by UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, the system, valued at $85,000, is the 85th PV system installed through the SunSmart Schools Emergency Shelter Program.

In conjunction with the dedication, a professional development workshop gave teachers from Haines City High School, Poinciana Academy of Fine Arts in Osceola County, Bloomingdale High School in Hillsborough County and Montessori World School in Orange County an opportunity to experience hands-on solar activities, showcasing the FSEC curriculum and a companion renewable energy kit. More than 250 teachers have participated in similar workshops, impacting more than 50,000 students statewide.

Teachers participate in a hands-on professional development solar workshop (From left to right: Broderic Ogzewalla, Robin Anderson, and Britton Bouey from Haines City High School, and Raf Baksh from Bloomingdale High School). Photo Credit: Nick Waters

Not only does the PV system reduce electricity costs by up to $1,500 a year and serve as a generator when a power outage occurs, the system also reports performance data to FSEC; the data will be available on energywhiz.com in June. This site will allow students and teachers to analyze PV system performance data to better understand how the technology works. “We hope we never have to use the system as a generator, and we’re excited about the hand-on learning application for our students and teachers. Being able to see the real-time data that our system produces will be a tremendous resource,” said Stephen Scheloske, assistant principal at Haines City High School. (more…)

Renewable Energy Student Teams Energized Even on a Cloudy Day

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

COCOA, May 09, 2013— With clouds in the sky and all eyes on the weather, more than 600 elementary, middle and high school students were energized on Saturday, May 4th. Student teams—from Key West to as far away as North Carolina—gathered at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center on Saturday to demonstrate their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) skills by competing at the 11th annual EnergyWhiz Olympics.

Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish III speaks into megaphone.

Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish III welcomes crowd to EnergyWhiz Olympics.

The daylong event started out cloudy and posed challenges to the solar-dependent competitions, especially the Bright House Solar Energy Cook-off and the Junior Solar Sprint (solar-powered model car) teams. Although weather conditions were less than ideal, the sun managed to peek through the clouds and provide just enough energy for the teams to get through the solar competitions. And although Energy Innovations, a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge, depend on the sun for their complete product demonstration, teams also created marketing pieces—such as brochures, fliers, and posters—to promote their product.

Judges talking to students around full-size photovoltaic panel.

Judges discuss Energy Innovations project, "Sunfisher," with Edgewood Jr/Sr High team.

Fortunately, the rain held off until later in the day, allowing the Battery Assisted Transport (B.A.T.) Mobile, model-size electric cars, and the Electrathon, go-cart size electric cars, to compete without incident.

The Hydrogen Challenge, located indoors, attracted a large audience as students demonstrated their understanding of energy transfers through a custom-built Rube Goldberg-type apparatus. “The phenomenally creative and intricate contraptions were a challenge to judge,” said Eric Hoepnner, former middle school science teacher. Built with a hydrogen fuel cell in one of the steps, the timed machines were judged on accuracy, innovation, complexity, technical sophistication, and their use of fuel cell technology. Nearly doubling in size from last year, this event is expected to have even more participants next year. “There’s a huge coolness factor with this event,” Hoeppner added.

Students knelt down on yellow track watching model electric cars race side-by-side while crowd watches.

Students race their B.A.T. Mobiles

These hands-on renewable energy competitions expose students to alternative energy fuel sources and encourage scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork.

Susan Schleith, energy education director at FSEC says, “As our event continues to grow each year, my goal is to establish regional events around the state, with the ultimate competition taking place at FSEC. This would allow even more students to participate, and create a broadened awareness statewide. Tight school budgets and travel costs provide challenges that some student teams just can’t overcome.”

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2013 EnergyWhiz Olympics Winners

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Congratulations to the 2013 EnergyWhiz Olympics Winners:

 

B.A.T. (Battery Assisted Transport) Mobile Challenge

1st Place Race:  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Race:  Millennium Panther, Lewis E. Wadsworth Elementary, Palm Coast

3rd Place Race:  Salt & Pepper, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

1st Place Design :  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Millennium Panther, Lewis E. Wadsworth Elementary, Palm Coast

3rd Place Design:  The Anaxagoras, Montessori World Academy, Orlando

 

Energy Innovations

Middle Division

1st Place Design:  Sunny Circus Snacks, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Urban Garden, Howard Middle, Orlando

3rd Place Design:   Cooking Device, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City

 

High School Division

1st Place Design:  The Sunfisher, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

2nd Place Design:  Suk-A-Poop, Island Coast High, Cape Coral

3rd Place Design:  Solar Bike, Dunbar High, Fort Myers

 

All Divisions

WOW! Award:  The Sunfisher, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

Hydrogen Challenge

Middle Division

1st Place:   The Flying Fish, Stewart Middle, Tampa

2nd Place:  The Kit Kats, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

3rd Place:  Child’s Play, Gifford Middle, Vero Beach

Most Accurate:  N.E.R.D.S. – New Energy Regeneration Device, Gulf Coast Academy, Spring Hill

 

High School Division

1st Place:  Tiger Engineering, Dunbar High, Fort Myers

2nd Place:  The Domino Theory, Edgewood Jr/ Sr High, Merritt Island

3rd Place:  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

Most Accurate :  Race Girls, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

 

All Divisions

WOW! Award:  The Flying Fish, Stewart Middle, Tampa

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Important notification regarding photovoltaic (solar) panels sold under the trade name Advanced Solar Photonics (ASP) on behalf of Bluechip Energy LLC

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

On February 13, 2013, the Florida Solar Energy Center revoked its module registration of ASP modules, having discovered that documentation asserting Underwriters Laboratories (UL) testing was not substantiated by UL.

UL has issued a public notice regarding the counterfeit products, and information enabling identification of the affected panels is available in the Public Notices portion of the UL website, or may be accessed via the following link to the notice: UL warns of counterfeit UL Mark on photovoltaic panels (Release 13PN-20).

Please note that ASP issued a recall for these mislabeled photovoltaic products, with details regarding inspection and replacement accessible via the following link: Advanced Solar Photonics Announces Product Recall of PV Modules for Code Compliance.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office is equipped to receive complaints regarding the ASP/Bluechip Energy products directly from consumers, with protocols in place to investigate consumer fraud. Complaints may be filed via a “Quick Link” on the Attorney General website homepage, or accessed and submitted electronically via the Citizen Services Contact Form via the following link: Citizen Services Contact Form.

Please direct all complaints and investigative inquiries to the Florida Attorney General’s Office

International Renewable Energy Speaker at FSEC on Monday, May 21, 2012 @ 3 p.m.

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

What:
An opportunity to learn about a unique international sustainability project.

Title of Presentation:
Urban Energy Services through Stand-Alone Renewable Energy Systems

Speaker:
Dr. Priyadarshini Karve

Abstract:
Generally in the developing countries, stand alone renewable energy systems are associated with electricity generation for rural areas. However, many such systems have failed due to a variety of reasons. An assessment of the failures indicates several reasons, such as lack of technical expertise for operating the systems, difficulties in servicing and maintenance, mismatch between energy services available and energy services required, social, economic, political constraints, etc. Most of these problems would be avoided if the stand alone systems were based in urban areas. Furthermore, no government subsidy or grant will be necessary, as even normal banks can provide finance due to the relatively better creditworthiness of the urban proponents. To some extent the successful introduction of systems, such as solar water heaters in urban areas, is already pointing in this direction.

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Subrato Chandra Remembered

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Subrato Chandra, Ph.D., retired project manager for the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership (BAIHP) and one of the pioneers of the building research division of the Florida Solar Energy Center, died Jan. 12 following complications from surgery.

A pioneer of buildings research at FSEC, Subrato Chandra, died Jan. 12, 2012 due to complications from surgery.

Subrato Chandra, a pioneer of buildings research at FSEC.

Subrato, who worked for FSEC for 34 years before retiring in 2010, was passionate about integrating energy efficiency into home design and, long before most people had ever heard the term photovoltaics, helped develop the concept of a PV powered house in Cape Canaveral in 1979.

One of his proudest achievements was highlighted in an email he recently sent a colleague in which several FSEC initiatives were touched upon in a listing of the most transformative homebuilding trends in the last 75 years.

Subrato’s compassion can be seen in the types of projects he championed:   As director of FSEC’s research and development division in 1995 he helped the Environmental Protection Agency launch the Energy Star Homes project that has become the most widely accepted energy-efficient green homes projects in the country.  The Building America project he led still works directly with Habitat for Humanity home builders throughout the country to help make housing more affordable for needy families and helps make manufactured or HUD-code homes more efficient.

Subrato led FSEC’s first major funded project in the buildings area with a $400,000 contract on passive cooling by natural ventilation received in 1981 from the Department of Energy.  During his career at UCF he was involved in $14 million of funded projects. In addition to his work at FSEC, Subrato served as a faculty member in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Subrato was able to succeed because he always championed the personal relationship over the pure technical work. He communicated equally well with a housing subcontractor and a renowned scientist. And in so doing he was able to have a number of happy employees and help funding agencies achieve their goals. His loss will be felt nationwide in the building research community.

“He was a great teacher, a respected scientist, and a classy gentleman, ” said Craig V. Muccio, a colleague from Florida Power and Light who first met Subrato in a solar engineering class Subrato was teaching in 1980.

Most recently Subrato was working with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as a senior buildings engineer.

Subrato’s wife Mitra works in the Office of Research & Commercialization and he has two grown children.

Florida Manufactured Solar Electric Panels

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Dr. James Fenton Speaks to Florida House of Representatives, Energy & Utilities Subcommittee on December 6, 2011

Below is the transcription of the 12-minute video recording, located here: http://vimeo.com/33415686.

My name is James Fenton, I’m director of the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center here today and I would like to talk to you about manufacturing, manufacturing renewable energy in Florida.  Specifically I’ll use examples of photovoltaics; solar to electric panels.

Which purchase is best for Florida?

Which purchase is best for Florida?

Let’s look at Florida manufacturing jobs as a tale of two salad bowls.  The $10.00 bowl made in Florida using Florida materials keeps all the money and all the jobs in Florida.  The $9.50 bowl imported from China, manufactured by Chinese, using Chinese materials sends most of the money and the jobs to China.  Which purchase is best for Florida?

Florida imports almost all of its energy resources.  The citizens of Florida pay $27 billion for electricity and $30 billion for gasoline for a total of $57 billion per year.  This compares to our state budget of $70 billion a year.  But unlike our state budget, which I hope by the way we spend all that money in the state, most of the $57 billion leaves the state of Florida.  We are faced with two energy challenges – How can Florida reduce its imported energy costs and how can Florida’s electricity and transportation fuel be manufactured in Florida?  Can we design an energy future which allows Florida to keep our capital in the state, increasing economic activity and produce high-wage jobs.  We can and there is a path to do it.  I would like to share such a path.
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Solar Power Systems Educate Students, Reduce Costs for Schools and Provide Emergency Power

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

COCOA, July 14, 2011 – Nearly 100 Florida schools will be soaking up solar rays to power their buildings this fall thanks to the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).

FSEC, a University of Central Florida research institute, is providing each school with a 10-kilowatt, solar photovoltaic (PV) system valued at more than $80,000. These systems allow schools to capture the sun’s rays and turn them into energy to help reduce electricity costs, and they also serve as generators during a power outage. Installation of the systems – under way now – will reduce energy costs by up to $1,500 a year and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

 

The photovoltaic system at Oak Hammock Middle School in Ft. Myers is near completion.

The photovoltaic system at Oak Hammock Middle School in Ft. Myers is near completion.

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