Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting
“Can we make energy by just walking on floor tiles?”
The ground floor of a building is typically thought of being statics and unuseful. But can we use our engineering mindset to change this? Well, energy generation often requires some sort of change of state in a system to happen. And in buildings, one change that is always happening is people’s movement. Specifically, people seem to be stepping everywhere to get somewhere. With this motion, pressure is exerted on the ground of a building. And if we take a note from our knowledge of circuits, then we know that we can create an electric current through this pressure with piezoelectricity. Therefore, if we implement piezoelectric tiles in a building, we can create a Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting framework. Researchers at San Jose State University are studying this field, and are hoping to implement a working piezoelectric tile by the end of Spring 2019.
Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems
“How can we create a central management system for distributed energy resources?”
Without a doubt, distributed energy resources are the way of the future. With their ability to efficiently generated clean and renewable energy in optimal locations, they can make a truly sustainable civilization possible. However, if left unregulated, they can wreak havoc on the grid, and destroy an efficiency associated with them. So how can we use our engineering mindsets to solve this problem? Well, what if we were to create a centralized control system that could monitor and actuate upon these systems? Well, this is the main idea behind Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems, and are a very hot topic for the future of energy research!
“How can we measure a building material’s resistance to heat flow?”
One of a building’s primary functions is to insulate people from the outside world. And just as different materials are made of different atoms, different building materials are more efficient at producing insulation. So how can we quantify this? Well, let’s start by testing each material and assigning it a particular value. Engineers have done this and came up with the concept of the R-value. If you take a material of R-value x and one of R-value y and place one in front of the other then you will obtain a material with an R-value x + y. R-values are one of the fundamental components of modern-day construction
Model Predictive Control for HVAC
“How can we implement Model Predictive Control for HVAC?”
Model Predictive Control has been applied to all sorts of situations, whether it be self-driving cars or autonomous building systems. So logically, something such as HVAC systems is another area of interest. Model Predictive Control for HVAC takes in parameters of such as heat and humidity and combines it with theoretical principles to have powerful predictive capabilities.
Vehicle to Building Integration
“How can we integrate electric vehicles with buildings energy systems?”
With the ascent of building integrated renewable energy, the need for storage is now more important than ever. However, current forms can be quite expensive and difficult to implement. So how can we use our engineering mindset to think outside of the box for this problem? Well, many people now own electric vehicles, which have onboard batteries. So what if we were to connect these batteries to homes, enabling a quick and portable storage solution for renewable energy? Well, this technology is known as Vehicle to Building Integration, and will be a hot topic in the coming decade. V2B is very similar to Vehicle to Grid Systems, except that they work with buildings instead of grids
Building Heating Loads
“What are the heating requirements of buildings?”
We know that the electricity needed by the building represents its energy load, but electricity is often not the only thing that a building requires. Furthermore, said building will also need heating and cooling. So how can we represent this in a quantitative fashion? Well, taking inspiration from energy loads, we can use a building energy load to show the information for heating or cooling in a building. The building energy load can be regulated through the use of an HVAC system.
Building Energy Loads
“What exactly draws energy in a building?”
The vast majority of people (in the developed world) spend the vast majority of their lives within a building. Whether it be the hospital they were born, the house they grew up in, or the school they attended, they were in some sort of edifice. And being modern society, we also use electricity within these buildings. And if we were to summate all of the energy-using technologies inside a building, then we would obtain the Building Energy Load. People are billed for how high their energy load is, so the less energy used the more money will be saved. Building Energy Loads also illustrate how important HVAC technology is since typically half of the energy supplied to a building is taken up by heating and cooling needs.