Category: Engineering

How Renewable Energy is Helping Grid Stability

How Renewable Energy is Helping Grid Stability

How Renewable Energy is Helping Grid Stability

10/16/17

“How can renewable energy increase grid stability?”

 

Numerous critics of renewable energy believe that by increasing its usage will make the grid more unstable due to the fluctuating nature of the sun and wind. However, a leaked six-page document from the U.S Department of Energy has found that such claims are unfounded and that the increased use of energy efficiency, battery storage, and demand response was actually making the grid more reliable! Just goes to show that with a little bit of science even the most intuitive of perspectives can be proven untrue.

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LEED certification

LEED certification

LEED certification

10/15/17

“How can we quantify the sustainability of buildings?”
Buildings are amongst the most important facets of our civilization. Because of them, we can live, work, and play freely. But like most things created by humans, they take up environmental resources. And since we want to be as sustainable as possible, we need some way to measure the environmental impact of each building. That’s why the United States Green Building Council has developed a certification system called LEED. LEED works by giving “points” for each sustainable activity the building does, whether it be brownfield redevelopment energy optimization, or using regional materials. Based upon these points, the building may be awarded a LEED certification (with levels specified by the figure) and become eligible for incentives such as tax credits. Because of the system’s success, numerous countries around the world have expressed interest in the system, including the rapidly developing India and China.

Robot Welding

Robot Welding

Robot Welding

10/14/17

“How can we use robots to do welding?”

 

Welding is one of the most important industrial processes. Because of it, we are able to construct machines with intricate metal designs. However, if it is performed by human hands, then things can become prone to error and harm the welder. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? Well, what if we were to simply use industrial robots to weld? Well, engineers have already thought of this a long time ago, and now robot welding has become a mainstay of factories around the world.

Lathes

Lathes

Lathes

10/13/17

“How can we shape metal with rotation?”

 

Metals are some of the most useful materials in the world. Their strength and endurance can be used for a great variety of applications, whether it be in building structures of everyday tools like spatulas. However, how exactly can we shape metal? Well, let’s use our engineering mindsets to think of a solution. We know that if we use one cylindrical bar of metal to scrape the edge of a surface, it can be deformed to our liking. And if we were to rotate our bar with this metal, then the entire profile will be shaped to its specification. So what if we were to put our metal bar onto a machine that would rotate at very high speeds and push it against a sharp razor? Well, this is the idea behind a machine called a lathe and was one of the most important machines during the start of the industrial revolution.

Bypass Dampers

Bypass Dampers

Bypass Dampers

10/12/17

“How can we relieve excess pressure on HVAC systems?”

 

Dampers are commonly used in HVAC zoning systems to create multi-zone systems. However, with continued use, a pressure imbalance can grow between the zones, creating numerous issues. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? Well, what if we were to implement an extra duct that would connect the zones to one another, and have a damper control air flow between them to equalize the pressure. This system is known as a bypass damper, as has been implemented in homes around the world. However, One of the drawbacks of these systems is that these systems will introduce non-conditioned air into the system, increasing the energy needed for operation and vastly decreasing the efficiency. In fact, these systems are so bad that the U.S state of California has actually banned them!

Why Lithium-ion Batteries are Better for Renewable Energy Integration

Why Lithium-ion Batteries are Better for Renewable Energy Integration

Why Lithium-ion Batteries are Better for Renewable Energy Integration

10/11/17

“What is one possibility to solve renewable energy storage?”

 

Subject Solar Energy / Storage Innovations

Date: October 11, 2017

Purpose

I am writing to you to inform you about recent difficulties in solar energy integration. As it stands, solar energy is generated in an active form, meaning that once created it must be used immediately. To solve this, we can deploy Lithium-ion batteries to act as reservoirs.

Summary

Lithium-Ion Batteries have properties that make them a strong option for renewable energy integration. Lithium-ion batteries are composed of lithium and carbon, giving them special characteristics. However, these same properties also give Lithium-Ion Batteries special problems, such as being prone to spontaneous explosions. (Brain, 2006)

 

Background

One of the major bottlenecks to renewable energy integration is a lack of viable storage mechanisms. One of the most viable solutions, battery systems, has numerous drawbacks. They can take up large amounts of space, and provide a low energy to space ratio. Consequentially, the current battery technology paradigm needs to be overhauled.

 

Discussion

Introduction

Lithium-Ion Battery Technologies are a new battery technology. Because of their unique properties, they hold much potential for Renewable Energy Storage. However, this same composition that makes it special also makes it potent for mishap.

Advantages

Lithium-ion Batteries include numerous advantages. Their much more energy dense, meaning that a small volume can hold a lot of charge, bypassing the previous space issue. They also tend to keep this charge, losing only 5%/month compared to the average 20%/month, allowing renewable energy to be stored for a longer time. They also can also be charged before they run out of power and can handle hundreds of charge/discharge cycles, making them quite viable for being used as battery storage with the dynamic character of renewable energy. (Brain, 2006)

Drawbacks

These batteries also come with numerous drawbacks. They start degrading once manufactured, decay faster in the presence of high temperatures, are ruined upon complete discharge, require an onboard control system, and most importantly, may burst into flame spontaneously if it overheats. (Brain, 2006)

How we can overcome this

Keep these batteries in low-temperature facilities. This will keep their charge more stable, have it degrade slower, and most importantly prevent spontaneous explosions.

 

Conclusion

Even with their flaws, Lithium-ion technology holds much potential for use in renewable energy integration. Their high energy density combined with their ability to handle dynamics charging and discharging gives them an unparalleled capacity to work with renewable energy. If we can store them in colder locations, then we can also greatly reduce their drawbacks.

 

References

Brain, Marshall. “How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work.” How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work | HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 14 Nov. 2006, electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/lithium-ion-battery.htm.

 

Grid Resilience

Grid Resilience

Grid Resilience

10/10/17

“How can we measure how resilient the grid is?”

 

Grid reliability is a great way to measure the stability of the grid. But unfortunately, it does not give us the complete picture. When a grid systems experience are taken down, they need time to recover. The less time it takes, then the more resilient a grid will be. Taken the two systems in the picture for example. When the bottom one experiences a disruption,  not only will it need a long time to recover but it does not reach close to its full potential again. In contrast, the top one only experiences a brief hiccup and quickly flows back to normal. This measure is called Grid Resilience and is an important part of the analysis of electrical systems.