DOT Selects UCF to Develop ‘Smart Grid’ for Plug-in Electric Vehicles

October 24th, 2013

By Sherri Shields

COCOA, October 24, 2013 – As interest in electric vehicles continues to keep the automotive industry charged, the nation is strategizing how to best integrate plug-in vehicles with its electrical grid and highways. Now, with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the creation of the first transportation center with a focus on electric vehicles, the University of Central Florida will help chart that course in Florida.

Photograph of electric vehicle only parking

Dedicated parking and charging stations for electric vehicles might soon become commonplace.

The Electric Vehicle Transportation Center operated by UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center is a newly funded, four-year, $9 million research effort to help create the nation’s electric-vehicle transportation network. Research conducted by the center will help transportation planners prepare our nation’s highways for the influx of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), while developing “smart grid” applications that will strengthen the ability of our electric system to accommodate the power demands of electric vehicles. PEVs need a reliable, predictable network of charging stations to allow them to travel long distances without the fear of “running out of fuel.” Workplace charging, community charging, and highway fast-charging systems are in development. A new PEV transportation network designed in conjunction with the modernization of our electric grid system will result in a sustainable highway and energy network.

Read the rest of this entry »

In the Field with Neil: RESNET Chapter 8 Blower Door Numbers

August 26th, 2013

In July 2013 – Florida changed; some say for the better – others not so much so. Never the less, change has occurred. For raters working in Florida, it means that we now have the option in how we perform blower door testing. In the past, it was a requirement that for a registered rating – a multipoint test was needed. Now we can do a single point. (For me personally, I like the multipoint test. All the hard work is done; I only need to gather a few building pressures and corresponding flows. I get more info about the building enclosure. But this is for another blurb.)

So what does RESNET chapter 8 say…

802.1 ON-SITE INSPECTION PROTOCOL

There are three acceptable airtightness test procedures:

802.1.1 Single-point test: Measuring air leakage one time at a single pressure difference as described in section 802.5

802.1.2 Multi-point test: Measuring air leakage at multiple induced pressures differences as described in section 802.6

802.1.3 Repeated single-point test: The test is similar to the single point test, but the test is done multiple times for improved accuracy and estimating uncertainty as described in section 802.7

 

What are the highlights of each test process?

(Note that the house setup is identical no matter which test procedure you use – the difference is in the pressures and flows taken from the blower door.)

Let’s look at 802.5 Single-point test.

  1. Determine the baseline range – Fan sealed, record 5 different pressures (10 second average minimum) of house wrt outside. Find the difference between the highest and lowest values – This sets the Level of Accuracy.
  2. Determine the Pre-test baseline pressure – Average these 5 readings just taken may be used (or use baseline feature of meter – 10 second min).
  3. Determine the unadjusted building pressure and flow at 50 pascals – the building pressure to the nearest 0.1 pascal and the flow to the nearest cfm. Also record inside/outside temperatures, fan/meter models/serial numbers, fan configuration and type of test (pressurize/depressurize).
  4. Perform calculations to determine corrected CFM50. See the RESNET Standard section 802.5.9 for that process. Or my suggestion is to download the FREE EnergyConservatory Tectite 4.0 (wifi) software. You can select this test type and just input your numbers and out pops the result and you can save it for later viewing – like when the QA person comes around and asks to see your files…just saying.
  5. If you are using EnergyGauge USA (of course), enter the building pressure and corrected fan flow as shown. Click on Calculate/Post and it will do the calculations needed.

august

Now let’s look at 802.6 Multi-point test.

  1. Determine the Pre-test baseline pressure – Measure the house wrt outside using the 10 second average minimum (or use baseline feature of meter – 10 second min). Fan sealed during this step.
  2. Determine the unadjusted building pressures and flows– Take and record a minimum of 7 additional unadjusted building pressure and nominal fan flow measurements at target induced pressures which are approximately equally-spaced between 60 Pa (or the highest achievable induced building pressure) and 15 Pa. The building pressures to the nearest 0.1 pascal and the flows to the nearest cfm. Also record inside/outside temperatures, fan/meter models/serial numbers, fan configuration and type of test (pressurize/depressurize).
  3. Determine the Post-test baseline pressure – Measure the house wrt outside using the 10 second average minimum (or use baseline feature of meter – 10 second min). Fan sealed during this step
  4. Complete steps #4 & #5 above.
  • Note: the current version of EnergyGauge USA doesn’t do the required adjustments to the as measured building pressures and flows – therefore download the FREE EnergyConservatory Tectite 4.0 (wifi) software; it will perform all the calculations needed.

Lastly look at 802.7 Repeated single-point test.

  1. Determine the Pre-test baseline pressure – Average these 5 readings just taken may be used (or use baseline feature of meter – 10 second min).
  2. Determine the unadjusted building pressure and flow at 50 pascals – the building pressure to the nearest 0.1 pascal and the flow to the nearest cfm. Also record inside/outside temperatures, fan/meter models/serial numbers, fan configuration and type of test (pressurize/depressurize).
  3. Repeat steps #1 & #2 a minimum of 5 times.
  4. Calculate the Average Nominal CFM50 by summing the individual nominal CFM50 readings and dividing by the number of readings.
  5. Perform calculations to determine corrected CFM50. See the RESNET Standard section 802.7.9 for that process or use the FREE EnergyConservatory Tectite 4.0 (wifi) software. If you are using EnergyGauge USA, enter the building pressure and corrected fan flow. Click on Calculate/Post and it will do the calculations needed.

Tei Explains It: August Rater Updates

August 26th, 2013

Continue to stay up-to-date on the latest rater news and announcements.

NATE/RESNET HVAC Performance Verifier Exam

NATE is beta testing the NATE/RESNET HVAC Performance Verifier exam in July and August, 2013. Beta testing is done to make sure we have the right questions, we have the right approach and to receive industry input into the development. The beta exam is now available for HERS raters to take.

Several weeks ago, HERS raters were sent an invitation to take the NATE/RESNET exam at FSEC. The response on the registration page was great however the majority of those that signed up did not show up for the exam. In the future, if you will not be attending a class, test, etc that you have signed up in the FSEC store, please drop us an e-mail or call to cancel. This has been pretty disappointing since there was no cost for this exam.

The next exam is available on August 30 starting at 9:00 AM at FSEC. Registration is available at https://secure.fsec.ucf.edu/fsecstore/do/product/BldgExams/NATEexam

Rater Agreements

The EnergyGauge Office has been working on a HERS Rater packet. This packet should be going out in the early fall. This packet will contain specifics in what we expect from raters and what you can expect from the EnergyGauge Office. Please look for it in your mailboxes. You will have 30 days to execute the agreement after receipt.

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance for the 2013 year is in full swing. I will be contacting you via e-mail and/or phone to schedule dates and times to get this done. I have complete confidence that you will cooperate fully with this process. Unfortunately, even if you do one home, I will have to get into that home. RESNET is enforcing this and if you do not respond the only choice that I have will be to suspend you from registering ratings. We will be adopting a formal policy regarding this situation and others concerning QA and will be included in your rater packet which should be going out to all HERS raters in the early fall.

Combustion Classes

You will have until January 1, 2015 to complete the combustion portion of your individual certifications. I know we have cancelled classes in the past because the exam was not ready. The exam is now ready and the fall class scheduled for November 19-21 will be held. Register at https://secure.fsec.ucf.edu/fsecstore/do/product/BLDG/Combust

In The Field With Neil: RESNET-Approved Airflow Measurement Techniques

June 17th, 2013

Chapter 8, section 804 of the RESNET Standard provides us with an onsite procedure for measuring the airflow of ventilation systems. These procedures treat the air flows into a grille and out of a register measured separately. There are 3 RESNET-approved test processes used to determine airflow: 1) powered flow hood, 2) air flow resistance and 3) timed bag inflation. Each method, as most things in life, has positives and negatives.

 

Powered Flow Hood

powerflow

The powered flow hood method is the most accurate, but also the most expensive. The powered flow hood differs from a conventional flow hood in that there is a fan which assists air movement through the flow hood to prevent a pressure differential at the register or grill created by the flow hood. The most common is the Energy Conservatory FlowBlaster® which works with your existing Duct Blaster Fan and DG-700 Pressure and Flow Gauge. The fan is powered by a combination fan speed controller and rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery. This method may be used on either exhaust or supply systems.

 

Air Flow Resistance

airflow

The air flow resistance method is probably the most common and can only be used on exhaust systems (air entering grill).  This method determines the air flow by measuring a pressure difference across a known hole size.  The air flow (in cfm) is equal to the hole size (in square inches) times 1.07 times the square root of the pressure difference (in pascals).  (Yes we are mixing units, but the 1.07 factor takes care of the conversions.)  This device will give the best results when the pressure difference is less than 8 pascals – largely because the exhaust fan speed will be reduced with greater pressures.  There is a commercially available “box” or flow meter again from the Energy Conservatory or you can easily create your own.  (If interested in creating your own – drop me a line and I will send you the directions.)

 

bag

Timed Bag Inflation

The timed bag inflation method is the least expensive of all.  It can only be used on supply systems.  As the name implies, a bag (typical a garbage bag) of known volume is inflated by the supply air.  The time required to fully inflate the bag is measured with a stopwatch.  This method takes a bit of practice to get repeatable results, but is rather simple to do.  As the standard indicates, bag volume and thickness play into the accuracy of the results – so a trial and error approach is needed.  Aim for a fill time of 2 to 20 seconds – the longer fill time will be easier to do, but may require a fairly large bag depending on the amount of airflow.  The airflow is easily calculated by multiplying the bag volume (in gallons) by 8 and dividing by the time (in seconds) required to fill it.  The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a nice write up on the method along with a table to convert to airflow.

 

These three procedures are the only RESNET-approved methods for measuring airflow in either whole house or spot ventilation systems.  (Well, there is one exception – if an ERV/HRV manufacturer has ports installed on their device for the purpose of measuring airflow; that may be used when following their directions.)

So go measure and have fun out there…

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.

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