UCF Professor Wins Research Incentive Award

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

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Renewable Energy Student Teams Energized Even on a Cloudy Day

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

In The Field With Neil: Automatic Fan Control

May 7th, 2013

Most of us use either the Energy Conservatory DG-700 or Retrotec DM-2 digital micromanometers.  These meters have some great, yet under utilized features.  I would like to introduce you to one of the features – automatic fan control.  The Energy Conservatory refers to it as “cruise control” and Retrotec as “set pressure”.  In either case, it allows the digital pressure meter to control the fan speed or flow based on the pressure of “A” channel.

With the Automated Control you can…

  • quickly measure building airtightness using a “one-point” 50 Pa test.
  • quickly measure duct airtightness using a “one-point” 25 Pa total leakage test.
  • simultaneously control both the blower door and duct tester fans during a leakage to outside duct airtightness test. During this test, the meter will maintain a constant 25 Pa building pressure while the gauge connected to the duct tester fan maintains a constant 0 Pa pressure in the duct system.
  • maintain a constant building pressure while pressure pan testing, or locating and sealing building and duct system air leaks.
  • perform series leakage to quantify leakage rates between various zones within a building.  (Check out our class on Advanced Pressure Diagnostics…we will be using the cruise control a lot)

So this sounds great – what do you need in order to use the automated fan control feature?

  • An “automated fan compatible” gauge. Most are, but check that it has either “EC-cruise” or “Retrotec-set pressure” buttons on the front panel of your digital pressure gauge.
  • A blower door or duct tester fan speed controller with proper communication jack.
  • A cable to connect the meter to the fan.

That is it!  And you probably already have everything you need – especially if you recently purchased your equipment.  So next time you are out in the field – give it a try; I know you will ask yourself, ‘how did I ever get along without this?’.

For more information on automated blower door control:

2013 EnergyWhiz Olympics Winners

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

Read the rest of this entry »

MEDIA ADVISORY: No Shortage of Energy on May 4th — Student-Built Solar Cars, Cookers and Hydrogen Inventions Energize the EnergyWhiz Olympics

May 1st, 2013

May 01, 2013

COCOA, FL – More than 650 elementary, middle and high school students—from across Florida—will show off their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) skills at the 11th annual EnergyWhiz Olympics on Saturday, May 4th in Cocoa.

The EnergyWhiz Olympics is a daylong event showcasing student-built projects in solar and hydrogen. These hands-on renewable energy competitions expose students to alternative energy fuel sources and encourage scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork.

The public is invited to attend free of charge. The event is located on Brevard Community College’s Cocoa Campus, at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road. Competitions are from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., with an awards ceremony following.

Activities include:

  • The Energy Innovations program (10:00 a.m.) is a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge for middle and high school students. Each participating team designs and constructs a product or artistic work fully powered by photovoltaics (PV), also called solar electric cells. In addition, teams create marketing pieces—such as brochures, fliers, and posters—to accompany their products.
  • The Hydrogen Challenge (10:30 a.m.) for students in grades 6 through 12, provide opportunities for student teams to explore hydrogen through hands-on engineering. Students demonstrate an understanding of hydrogen through a creative timing apparatus built with several Rube Goldberg-type steps.
  • The Battery Assisted Transport (BAT) Mobile (11:00 a.m.) challenges students in grades 6 through 8, to build and race model-sized electric cars. The race tests the creative engineering skills of students as they gain hands-on experience in the automotive design process. This event is a component of the Department of Energy’s Middle School Science Bowl.
  • The Junior Solar Sprint (11:30 a.m.) is a competition that challenges middle-school students to design, build and race model solar cars. Awards are given based on vehicle design, quality of craftsmanship, innovation and vehicle speed.
  • The Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff (1:00 p.m.) challenges students in grades 4 through 12 to design and build solar cookers and cook a recipe of their own creation using the power of the sun.  In Top Chef-style, each dish will be judged by a panel of experts based on taste, ingredients and creativity.
  • The Electrathon (10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.) is a competition for high school students and older. The go-cart-type vehicles, powered by an electric motor and batteries, must be skillfully designed, built and driven to maximize distance traveled within a given time limit.
  • In addition, Food Truck Crazy will be on site with 10 different food trucks
    (11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.).

For more information, visit

http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/education/k-12/energywhiz_olympics/index.htm, or watch a video about the EnergyWhiz Olympics at http://vimeo.com/9522310.

CONTACT:

Susan Schleith, FSEC Education Coordinator, 321-638-1017 or susan@fsec.ucf.edu

Sherri Shields, Asst. Director Communications, 321-638-1019 or sherri@fsec.ucf.edu

Note: photographs from previous years events available upon request.

About FSEC: The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research institute in the nation. Current divisions and their research activities include Advanced Energy Research: alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating, and solar electric and distributed generation systems. For more information about the center, visit http://www.floridaenergycenter.org or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at 321-638-1015.

UCF Stands For Opportunity: The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 2nd largest in the nation with more than 59,000 students. UCF’s first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region’s economic development. UCF’s culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information, visit http://news.ucf.edu.

####

PR13-01-R1

Tei Explains It: Quality Assurance

April 30th, 2013

It is very important for a builders, superintendents and agents to understand the significance of field quality assurance (QA).  The process on the outside may sound threatening, but it really is a very simple process.  Failure to comply with QA may result in losing your ability to register ratings and ultimately the revocation of your certification.

Question: Is field quality assurance mandatory?

Field quality assurance is not voluntary. It is mandatory requirement by RESNET Standards.

Question: Who must have quality assurance performed?

If you are an Energy Rater and do ratings, then you must have field quality assurance performed on at least one home a year if you perform 1 – 100 ratings.  If you perform ratings on 101 homes in a year, you must have 2 homes quality assured.  RESNET Standards require 1% of your annual total of ratings to have a field quality assurance visit.  Unfortunately, the Standard rounds up to an additional field QA at one not fifty and therefore 202 ratings will result in 3 field reviews.

Your files which come in for registration is also quality assured.  One in ten homes go through a quality assurance process which helps to instill confidence in every rater’s file.  So remember, when you create the file and it has any comments, mistakes or rejections, they reflect on your ability because you are the rater of record.  These are also reported to RESNET on an annual basis.

Question: Who should be informed of these visits?

Everyone! Please inform your builders, clients and your client’s agents that quality assurance is not a voluntary requirement. It is mandatory by RESNET Standards.  In this case, cooperation is essential.  Failure of your builder, client or your client’s agent to cooperate in quality assurance will result in the denial of rating registrations by that particular builder.  The Standard applies to all regardless of what Program, if any, they are participating in.  Also highly recommend upon soliciting a new client you make sure that they understand this process and that all their agents understand so there is less confusion on the field when quality assurance is performed.  You can go as far as having them sign that they acknowledge and understand the process and this may occur at any time with any of their homes.  We strive to make this as painless as possible by soliciting your cooperation so the process is smooth and does not create any undue hardship on the part of your client.  We are able to schedule in the evenings as well as the weekend if necessary.  Again, our aim is to get this done as painless as possible, with as little discomfort as possible.

So remember to make sure your client understands and agrees to quality assurance!

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

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

No Shortage of Energy on May 4th

April 15th, 2013

Student-Built Solar Cars, Cookers and Hydrogen Inventions
Energize the EnergyWhiz Olympics

More than 650 elementary, middle and high school students—from across Florida—will show off their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) skills at the 11th annual EnergyWhiz Olympics on Saturday, May 4th in Cocoa.

The EnergyWhiz Olympics is a daylong event showcasing student-built projects in solar and hydrogen. These hands-on renewable energy competitions expose students to alternative energy fuel sources and encourage scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork.

The public is invited to attend free of charge. The event is located on Brevard Community College’s Cocoa Campus, at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road. Competitions are from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., with an awards ceremony following.

Activities include:

  • The Energy Innovations program (10:00 a.m.) is a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge for middle and high school students. Each participating team designs and constructs a product or artistic work fully powered by photovoltaics (PV), also called solar electric cells. In addition, teams create marketing pieces—such as brochures, fliers, and posters—to accompany their products.
  • The Hydrogen Challenge (10:30 a.m.) for students in grades 6 through 12, provide opportunities for student teams to explore hydrogen through hands-on engineering. Students demonstrate an understanding of hydrogen through a creative timing apparatus built with several Rube Goldberg-type steps.
  • The Battery Assisted Transport (BAT) Mobile (11:00 a.m.) challenges students in grades 6 through 8, to build and race model-sized electric cars. The race tests the creative engineering skills of students as they gain hands-on experience in the automotive design process. This event is a component of the Department of Energy’s Middle School Science Bowl.
  • The Junior Solar Sprint (11:30 a.m.) is a competition that challenges middle-school students to design, build and race model solar cars. Awards are given based on vehicle design, quality of craftsmanship, innovation and vehicle speed.
  • The Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff (1:00 p.m.) challenges students in grades 4 through 12 to design and build solar cookers and cook a recipe of their own creation using the power of the sun. In Top Chef-style, each dish will be judged by a panel of experts based on taste, ingredients and creativity.
  • The Electrathon (10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.) is a competition for high school students and older. The go-cart-type vehicles, powered by an electric motor and batteries, must be skillfully designed, built and driven to maximize distance traveled within a given time limit.
  • In addition, Food Truck Bazaar will be on site with 10 different food trucks (11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.).

For more information, visit
http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/education/k-12/energywhiz_olympics/index.htm, or watch a video about the EnergyWhiz Olympics at http://vimeo.com/9522310.

CONTACT:
Susan Schleith, FSEC Education Coordinator, 321-638-1017 or susan@fsec.ucf.edu
Sherri Shields, Asst. Director Communications, 321-638-1019 or sherri@fsec.ucf.edu

Note: photographs from previous years events available upon request.

About FSEC: The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research institute in the nation. Current divisions and their research activities include Advanced Energy Research: alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel and fuel cells; Buildings Research: energy-efficient buildings; and Solar Energy: solar water and pool heating, and solar electric and distributed generation systems. For more information about the center, visit http://www.floridaenergycenter.org or call the FSEC Public Affairs Office at 321-638-1015.

UCF Stands For Opportunity: The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 2nd largest in the nation with more than 58,000 students. UCF’s first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region’s economic development. UCF’s culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information, visit http://news.ucf.edu.

Tei Explains It: Rater Role & Responsibility

March 27th, 2013

Question: What are my roles and responsibilities as a rater?

You are a rater.  It doesn’t matter what classification. You are considered a third party verifier of energy efficiency of real property.  Decisions made about this property regarding energy efficiency are basically “in your hands”.  Your input to the client, whether it be a builder or homeowner, is important for solid, sound decisions about spending money wisely on replacement or upgrading systems and materials.  Your opinions should be based on solid principles as well as keeping in mind the “law of diminishing returns.”

As a rater, your only responsibility is to your client.  Remember that as a rater you are the person who is certified.  You are the person who passed all of the exams and jumped through all of the hoops.  When you perform a rating, you are putting your reputation on the line as well as the whole energy efficiency industry.  When you perform a rating you are NOT really representing the company you are paid by because companies are not certified.  At this point you are a third party verifier and the client is your only concern.  If you allow any person or circumstance to change your professional judgment you are not being a third party verifier.  You are being a paid “yes” man/woman.  This can cause problems in the future if there is a complaint because defending yourself in a “compromising” situation can be detrimental to you not your employer or client.  You are actually putting your certification in jeopardy, not to mention eroding the integrity of the rating system.

Please make sure you explain to your employer that you represent the rating industry as a third party verifier when you perform a rating, and your job is to verify the features of the home as well as assist with sound, solid advice when asked to do so.  Selling or advising a client to purchase a material or service from your company is fine as long as you can justify its cost through its savings.  If asked to compromise your advice based on what the company sells is a red flag warning. Remember your certification is yours, and will be taken from you, not the company you are employed through.  Trying to “please” your builder because your employer “expects” it also becomes another red flag warning.  Again, remember whose certification is on the line.

So, the next time you hit the road to perform a rating, remember that you are representing yourself as a third party verifier as well as an entire energy efficiency community.  Please take pride in what you do and all of those you represent.