Engineers, environmentalists, and scientists have long been searching for a source of inexpensive renewable energy that can meet the world’s increasing energy needs. Now, one Florida State University (FSU) researcher is exploring ways to work with existing technologies to enable individuals to generate the energy they need to power their home—and even their car.
At the Sustainable Energy Science & Engineering Center (SESEC), professor of mechanical engineering Anjane’yulu’ Krothapalli is working to develop energy technologies that could help the United States and other developed nations deal with rising energy costs and combat the spread of global warming.
The SESEC is exploring ways to combine existing technologies to convert solar radiation to heat; to use that heat to produce steam to run a low-cost, highly efficient turbine; and then to use the power generated by that turbine to run a small electric generator. Individual homes could be equipped with these technologies. So rather than being connected to a vast power transmission system, which is prohibitively expensive in much of the world, individual homeowners would be able to generate the energy they need.
What SESEC brings to the energy table, Krothapalli said, is the ability to take existing technologies and find ways to make them simple to install and operate, much cheaper to produce, and more sensitive to the environment.
To demonstrate the various technologies, plans are under way to build a small, completely self-sustaining demonstration house in a parking lot outside Krothapalli’s office at the FSU Fluid Mechanics Research Laboratory. The 800-square-foot facility, which will include both living space and an office, will be constructed entirely out of “green” materials. It also will produce zero greenhouse-gas emissions and feature low-energy LED lighting and other innovations. The house’s 5-kW solar energy facility will produce hydrogen fuel to run a specially equipped automobile as well.
For more information:
Sustainable Energy Science & Engineering Center