UCF and ICAMR Capture DOE Award for Cost-Competitive Solar Energy

September 14th, 2016

September 14, 2016
By Barb Abney

A University of Central Florida-led team will receive $1.1 million to develop new manufacturing processes using a specialized tool that will bring the U.S. a step closer to achieving its goal of affordable photovoltaic (solar) energy.

UCF researcher, Kris Davis, stands next to the ACPVD system that deposits metal oxide material onto silicon wafers.

UCF researcher, Kris Davis, stands next to the ACPVD system that deposits metal oxide material onto silicon wafers.

The project, led by Kris Davis, a research engineer at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, will largely take place at the university’s International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research in Osceola County where the tool will be among the first to be installed when the building opens in spring 2017.

Making the research manufacturable was critical to getting the federal funding and having the state-of-the-art facility in Osceola County where process engineers will be on staff to manage the equipment was also imperative, Davis said.

“This is the future,” he said of the process his team will use to ultimately produce thousands of solar cells an hour in and without the costly and cumbersome vacuum-based deposition processes typically used to convert silicon wafers into solar cells. Read the rest of this entry »

UCF EcoStruction Workshops Provide Steps Toward a Sustainable Career

August 3rd, 2016

By Sherri Shields
August 3, 2016

EcoStruction is a series of workshops offered by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) that provides the first steps toward a sustainable career path in clean energy, sustainability or the environment.

Sponsored by CareerSource Brevard as part of the Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator Grant, participants of the pilot training program on August 1 – 5 were able to choose from five different courses:

  • Introduction to Construction Jobs & Energy Efficient Housing
  • Introduction to Sustainability
  • Introduction to Building Efficiency Performance
  • Introduction to Photovoltaic Systems Technician
  • Introduction to Photovoltaic Sales and Marketing

In addition to their chosen workshop, participants received Sustaining Service training by UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality to develop customer service and soft skills that are in high demand by Brevard employers.

Students constructing wall sections for an energy efficient dog house.

In the Introduction to Construction Jobs & Energy Efficient Housing workshop, students learn basic construction techniques and how to integrate energy efficiency features. Photo: Sherri Shields

“Combining Sustaining Service with specific occupational skills, and a layer of clean energy training, elevates these participants’ chances of securing employment,” said Valerie Carothers, CareerSource Brevard business liaison to the clean energy industry.

“Thanks to our training partners, Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition, the UF/IFAS Extension Service in Brevard County, and UCF Continuing Education, we were able to offer a variety of clean energy topics, and so far the feedback has been fantastic,” said Colleen Kettles, program director for business and workforce development at FSEC.

“I started this class knowing nothing, and even had a hard time pronouncing photovoltaics, but now I feel like an expert,” said Joussette Calvo, a participant in the Introduction to Photovoltaic Sales and Marketing workshop.

Tesla electric car (silver with black racing stripes) with all doors and hood opened for workshop participants to take a look.

Students were able to see a Tesla electric car and learn how it integrates into a LIfeStyle solar-powered home. Photo: Nick Waters

Students also had the opportunity to see a Tesla electric car and hear from guest speaker, Larry Hufford, founder of homebuilder LifeStyle Homes, about how homes, photovoltaic systems and electric cars are integrating. “The LifeStyle solar-powered home generates its own electricity from sunshine. The Tesla then uses this sunshine-generated electricity to get its battery charge. This means that the Tesla essentially runs on sunshine!”

Instructor in front of seated students with an instructional model of a home in the background.

Instructor Tei Kucharski discusses Home Energy Ratings in the Introduction to Building Efficiency Performance workshop. Photo: Nick Waters

Although the EcoStruction workshops are only offered as part of this pilot training series, FSEC offers other courses that support clean energy career development. Visit http://ce.fsec.ucf.edu/ for a full course listing.

For additional training information, please contact Colleen Kettles, ckettles@fsec.ucf.edu.


EVTC Helping to Make STEM Learning Relevant Through Electrathon

July 18th, 2016

By Susan Schleith
July 18, 2016

There was no roar of engines and no smelly fumes as the electric go-carts sped by the attentive crowd of students, teachers and the public gathered by the track in front of UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa. This was the final race of the Electrathon season coordinated by Electrathon of Tampa Bay, which was held in conjunction with the statewide EnergyWhiz event on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Over one thousand people, young and old, attended EnergyWhiz, with the opportunity to learn about a variety of clean energy technologies, including hydrogen, photovoltaics and electric vehicles.

Photo of go-cart type electric vehicles ready to race at FSEC as part of EnergyWhiz.

Electrathon vehicles get in place before the last race of the 2015-2016 Season at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa.

The Electrathon is a race featuring battery-powered electric go-carts that have been designed and built by the participating individuals and teams.   There are no refueling pit stops during an Electrathon race; the challenge is completing the most laps in one hour without completely draining the vehicle’s battery. Nine organizations were represented at the event with several of those with multiple teams; a total of 13 vehicles raced.

Read the rest of this entry »

Research Paper Illustrating Novel Approaches in Solar Hydrogen Production Wins Best Paper Award

June 22nd, 2016

June 22, 2016
By Sherri Shields

FSEC researchers and their Texas A&M University co-authors win Best Paper Award at the International Conference on Hydrogen Production (ICHP) in Hangzhou, China last month. Illustrating the novel approaches in solar hydrogen production, the paper, “Solar reactor investigation for the thermochemical steps of the sulfur-ammonia water-splitting cycle,” has also been included in a special issue of the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

Photo of experiment behind yellow plastic curtain.

Experimental set-up of photocatalytic hydrogen production at UCF’s FSEC.

“In our work, we presented the solar-driven hybrid sulfur-ammonia water splitting cycle (HySA) for hydrogen production. HySA is a promising technology for energy and environment applications, utilizing both solar photon and thermal radiation in a series of reaction steps. This study presented our efforts toward the design of a solar aerosol reactor for the thermochemical steps of the cycle. For this, we developed a conceptual particle model, based on our experimental and numerical findings,” said Agni Kalyva, Texas A&M University at Qatar. Read the rest of this entry »

EnergyWhiz to Showcase Students’ Solar Cars, Cookers and Inventions, Hydrogen Cars and Contraptions

March 21st, 2016

By Sherri Shields
March 21, 2016

COCOA, FL–Elementary, middle and high school students—from Jamaica to Virginia—will show off their energy conscious inventions during the EnergyWhiz competition on Saturday, May 14th.

EnergyWhiz is a daylong event where students showcase their hands-on renewable energy products, which reflect their knowledge of alternative energy fuel sources and use scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork. The students have built everything from solar-powered vehicles and cooking ovens to remote controlled hydrogen-powered mini-vehicles.

The Junior Solar Sprint competition is judged on technology, craftsmanship, appearance and performance.

The Junior Solar Sprint competition is judged on technology, craftsmanship, appearance and performance.

The annual event is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Cocoa campus of the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Eastern Florida State College, at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road. The event is free and open to the public.

Activities will include: Junior Solar Sprint, Energy Innovations, Energy Transfer Machine, Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff, the Electrathon, and the Hydrogen Horizon Automotive Challenge. Read the rest of this entry »

Gainesville Middle School Science Bowl Team Overtakes Miami in Double-Elimination, Melbourne Team Places Third

March 16th, 2016

By Sherri Shields
March 16, 2015

Florida is one of 50 regional science bowl competitions nationwide that yields the winning team that advances to the National Middle School Science Bowl. This year, 17 middle school teams came to the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, in Cocoa on March 5 to flex their intellect muscle in a fast-paced question-and-answer competition.

Four-member teams sit at a six-foot table, waiting for their question to be delivered.

Seventeen Florida teams competed in the double-elimination regional science bowl challenge.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the science bowl encourages middle school students to excel in mathematics, science and engineering. It provides an avenue of enrichment and reward for academic science achievement

Eight Florida finalist teams worked through the double elimination rounds over the course of several hours. Those teams were: Abraham Lincoln Middle from Gainesville, Archimedean Middle Conservatory from Miami, Edgewood Jr/Sr. High from Merritt Island, Falcon Cove Middle from Weston, Forest Grove Middle from Ft. Pierce, Westglades Middle from Coral Springs, West Shore Jr./Sr. from Melbourne, and Westwood Middle from Gainesville.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Home Energy Rating Software, EnergyGauge® USA 5.0 Released; Free Trial Available for Limited Time

August 24th, 2015

24 August 2015

EnergyGauge USA logo with eagle head on top of red, white, and blue-starred background.

EnergyGauge USA Version 5.0 is now available

Newly accredited by RESNET as a Home Energy Rating Software (HERS), IECC and Tax Credit tool, EnergyGauge USA 5.0, will be available as a free trial product for 90-days (or until November 30, 2015, whichever comes first). Any interested party may download Version 5.0 to examine the impacts of the ANSI/RESNET 301-2014 Standard on their most popular home designs.

Version 5.0 fully implements the new ANSI/RESNET 301-2014 Addendum A, hot water system calculations. These new hot water calculations allow HERS ratings to gain HERS credits for improved plumbing design, hot water piping insulation, low-flow fixtures, drain water heat recovery systems (DWHR), hot water recirculation systems and low water-use clothes washers and dishwashers. It also supports the national EPA ENERGY STAR new home program qualification and the U.S. DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes (ZERH) new home program qualification.

The trial offer of EnergyGauge USA 5.0 will not allow RESNET registration of HERS Ratings. To be able to register ratings with the RESNET Registry using EnergyGauge USA 5.0, certified raters will need to purchase a license for the software.

To download the free 90-day trial offer, simply go to http://energygauge.com/usares/trial50.htm and click on the download button.

EnergyGauge software is a product of FSEC, a research institute of the University of Central Florida.

Dr. Lixing Gu Receives ASHRAE Distinguished Service Award

August 11th, 2015

By Kelsey Dwyer
August 11, 2015

Dr. Lixing Gu, principal research engineer in the Buildings Research department at FSEC, has received the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Distinguished Service Award at ASHRAE’s 2015 Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. He received this award by exceeding 15 service points, exhibiting his abundance of service to the society.  Dr. Gu has dedicated much of his time and talent to ASHRAE, from completing research projects to publishing papers and reports in ASHRAE journals. Robin Vieira, director of the Buildings Research at FSEC, spoke highly of Dr. Gu’s accomplishments, saying, “This was a well-deserved award for Dr. Gu, who has contributed greatly to the knowledge base of heat transfers and buildings for the past 27 years.”

FSEC's Dr. Lixing Gu receives ASHRAE Distinguished Service award.

FSEC’s Dr. Lixing Gu, right, receives ASHRAE’s Distinguished Service Award.

Energy Audits for Rural Small Businesses

June 5th, 2015

Revised June 10, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) offers Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants to rural small businesses. USDA chose the University of Central Florida’s FSEC to provide a limited number of subsidized building energy audits to small businesses in rural Florida communities who are eligible for the grants and loans. Audit candidates must also meet FSEC criteria, which will be determined by a phone interview.

Photo of small town businesses on a "main street."

A limited number of subsidized building energy audits will be available to small businesses in rural Florida communities. Photo: ThinkStock.com

What is a building energy audit? An energy audit is an assessment of the energy use and energy saving opportunities in a building. The business or building owners play a role in the audit by providing utility bills and getting quotes for the improvements to facilitate cost-benefit calculations. The audit report provides recommendations and calculations that help applicants complete the technical sections of the Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loan & Grant applications.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Florida Energy Code Effective June 30, 2015. Sign Up for the Training You Need; Limited Time Discount Available

June 4th, 2015

By Sherri Shields
June 4, 2015
Updated: July 01, 2015

Florida Building Code Fifth Edition (2014) Energy Conservation

FSEC training courses will address the changes in the Florida Building Code, Fifth Edition (2014) Energy Conservation.

New Florida Energy Conservation Code—5th Edition (2014)—is effective June 30, 2015*.

*Notice of Legislative Delay: SB 2502-A, Section 69, Chapter 2015-222 Laws of Florida 5th Edition (2014) Florida Building Code

Residential energy code changes include:

  • Building air leakage rate testing and limit requirements
  • New prescriptive compliance requirements
  • New performance compliance reference values

Commercial energy code changes include new methods for code compliance:

  • ASHRAE prescriptive method
  • ASHRAE energy cost budget method
  • ASHRAE envelope trade-off option method
  • IECC prescriptive method
  • IECC performance method.

Get the updates and training you need.  Sign up by July 31 for a $50 discount (use discount code “Newcode”) on the following courses:

A complete list of FSEC courses can be found at: http://ce.fsec.ucf.edu/.