This project explores the technical challenge of sustainability as it relates to solar energy production, storage, and consumption. The challenge will be addressed through the design of a two-phase renewable energy system that will provide electrical energy during both day and night without the use of chemical batteries. “Phase One” will be the conversion of solar energy into electrical energy using photovoltaic panels for both immediate supply to the household load and for storage in a fluid based system. “Phase Two” will be the conversion of the stored potential energy back into electrical energy for use during the night and during times of peak demand. Methods of energy storage being evaluated include pumped-hydroelectric energy storage (PHES) and compressed-air energy storage (CAES), both of which are widely used in large-scale systems such as power plants. The “two-phase” system will scale the same idea for practical use at a smaller, residential scale such as a single family home. Effective methods for converting the stored energy into electrical energy will involve the use of a turbine-generator. A mathematical model of the entire system is used to determine system parameters to optimize efficiency while meeting constraints on power and total energy output. Based on the results, components and the method of energy storage for a scaled prototype are selected. This prototype will be constructed to validate mathematical models and to demonstrate potential control schemes. This research will result in an efficient and clean renewable energy system and eliminate the need for a chemical battery in residential photovoltaic systems. Its successful implementation will directly reduce hazardous battery waste and indirectly reduce carbon-emissions by decreasing dependency on fossil-fuel burning power plants.

Additional Abstract Information

Student(s): Eric J. Leaman, Jack R. Cochran

Department: Engineering

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jacquelyn Nagel

Type: Poster

Year: 2014

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