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Florida State

Current Projects

Off-Grid Zero Emission Buildings

                Zero Emissions BuildingThe house is currently in the design and fund raising stage. We are working with TLC Engineering on the design of the house to achieve the Platinum level of accreditation. This level of accreditation is only held by 15 other buildings in the world. None of these buildings are under the most current version of the requirements. FSU and ESC would like to be the first to achieve this achievement in Florida, setting the standard for FSU and bringing exposure to our area in the fields of engineering and environmentally friendly development. Not only are we showing a consciousness in this field but we are striving to be the best. We are in a hold due to funding at the moment but ESC along with FSU Foundation and key influential people in our community are working to rectify this problem. Stay tuned for further updates.


Solar-Thermal Tri-Generation System

Solar-Thermal Tri-Generation SystemThe solar-thermal tri-generation system is designed to address the high-energy costs associated with power production, refrigeration, and heating in lesser developed areas or emergency situations. Our system at ESC is currently in the testing process for power generation, refrigeration, and water heating; it consists of a concentrating solar concentrator and a thermal receiver. The solar concentrator is of the parabolic dish type, which is covered with a reflective aluminized mylar. This focuses the sun’s rays onto the receiver mounted at the focal point of the concentrator. The extreme temperatures created at the focal region, in excess of 650C, is then transferred by the receiver to heat a circulating fluid, which is then transported elsewhere for various thermal uses. For power production, the working fluid is water, which is flashed to steam. This high-temperature, high-pressure steam is then expanded through a small high-speed turbine coupled with a generator for electric power production. The exhaust steam is then condensed before reentering the system so as to minimize working fluid losses and increase system efficiency by preheating the working fluid. For refrigeration and water heating, an ethylene-glycol mixture is used. The ethylene-glycol mixture is used as a thermal transport medium to transfer the heat from the receiver to a thermal reservoir. For refrigeration, the thermal reservoir is used in conjunction with an anhydrous-ammonia refrigeration cycle. This cycle is similar to the conventional refrigeration cycle, however, instead of the refrigerant being compressed by the work of a shaft from an electric compressor, it is pressure driven by the addition of heat, thus making off-grid refrigeration plausible. For water heating, a heat exchanger is used in the thermal storage reservoir. Instead of water being heated by an electric heating element, the heat will be transferred from the thermal reservoir to the water. Ideally, all three components for the system will be able to operate simultaneously for tri-generation in areas where off-grid availability is essential.

Affordable Pyrheliometer

Solar radiation can be divided into direct beam radiation, diffuse radiation and reflected radiation. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) applications can only collect the direct beam radiation. CSP includes parabolic troughs; parabolic dishes or heliostats. A Pyrheliometer is used to measure the direct beam radiation from the sun. The efficiency of the solar power plant can then be determined knowing the incoming direct beam radiation from the sun.

Pyrheliometers on the market today are extremely expensive making accurate CSP site data collection cost prohibitive. An affordable pyrheliometer would increase the ability for proper site selection and optimal design of a CSP system for specific sites. ESC is designing and implementing an affordable pyrheliometer that will provide the important data, allowing engineers to make better decisions when designing CSP applications.


Biomass Gasification for H2 Production

Biomass Gasification for H2 ProductionBiomass is a sustainable energy source that has been used for thousands of years. New technologies provide a way harness this energy source more efficiently and cleaner than ever before. Biomass gasification is the process of converting biomass, like woodchips, sawdust, switch grass etc., to a usable gaseous fuel. Conventional downdraft gasifiers produce a low energy gas that is not suitable for storage or transportation. By using a dual fluidized bed type gasifier, a medium grade gas can be produced that is rich in H2. As the figure shows, dual fluidized beds separate the combustion products from the gasification products leading to a much higher quality product gas. The product can be used for power generation, conversion to liquid fuel or H2 production. This type of gasification can provide a sustainable path to producing H2 for new and exciting technologies. Research being performed at ESC will take this technology one step closer to mainstream implementation.


Solar Simulator

                SimulatorA solar simulator allows us to test solar systems independent from current weather conditions and time of day. This means that solar research can happen at an accelerated rate because of the amount of time able to study a system with constant testing conditions. The simulator creates artificial sunlight using xenon-arc lamps. These lamps produce similar quality light to that of the sun. With the help of a Fresnel lens, this light is made into direct beam radiation with intensity of about 1 sun. By making direct beams of light we are able to test systems that concentrate sunlight as well as those that do not. The lights are arranged in an array to produce a large area for testing. This area is adjustable by adding or subtracting lights and lens but is ultimately limited by the size of the room.


Highly Efficient Water Electrolysis

Water Electrolysis A significant hurdle to the implementation of a hydrogen-based economy is the fact that hydrogen cannot be made at an economically feasible price. It is widely speculated that water electrolysis, which separates water into its component elements of hydrogen and oxygen, will be the means of generating hydrogen in this type of economy. Water electrolysis systems (electrolyzers) currently employ either platinum or nickel-based alloy electrodes, which can account for up to 80% of the cost of a commercial electrolyzer. Based on an analysis of the Photosystem II process, which is widely observed in nature, thin metal oxide films have been developed in the laboratory at FSU for the purpose of improving water electrolysis. These films have demonstrated the ability to generate both hydrogen and oxygen near their thermodynamic limits, thus allowing for efficiencies above 99%.

PEM Fuel Cells

PEM Fuel
                CellsPEM fuel cells have the benefits of quick start-up and relatively low temperature operation, which make them the most likely candidates for use in automobile and home applications. In order for these fuel cells to achieve widespread adoption a number of engineering challenges must be overcome. Two of these challenges, the even distribution of hydrogen and air across the membrane and the need for active cooling of the fuel cell, are being addressed by the PEM fuel cell research at ESC. A prototype of a novel fuel cell design has been built and preliminary testing has yielded promising results.

In conjunction with the electrolysis development, research is also ongoing into the use of non-platinum catalysts.