Energy Storage as a Service
“How can we turn energy storage into a business?”
Traditionally, facilities had only two options for receiving electricity, generating their own or purchasing from a utility. But with the advent of renewable energy and advanced energy storage, this picture is starting to change. Facilities can now enter contracts with organizations to receive energy from energy storage systems. This venture known as Energy Storage as a Service has the potential to generate revenue, create savings, and improve electricity resiliency by providing clean energy at affordable rates
“How do most mechatronic industrial machines operate?”
Believe it or not, most modern day industrial mechatronic devices share a common operating principle. But how exactly does this work? Well, let’s use our engineering mindset to find out. When running through their cycles, they are in one state at a time. Whether it be an elevator changing floors or a car starting its motors. And if they want to change states, then a certain condition needs to be satisfied, such as reaching the destination floor or reaching full speed. Resultantly, this system architecture is called a Finite-State Machine and is one of the most common examples in the world.
The Critical Radius
“What is the most optimal radius for insulation?”
It is usually thought that if one wants to provide more insulation to an object, then all they have to do is add more layers. However, if this also increases the surface area of an object, which can cause the heat loss by convection to increase as well. If the insulation becomes too large, then the convection effect actually takes over! So how can we find the most optimal radius for convection? Well, if we use our knowledge of heat transfer and calculus, then we can find out that the critical radius r for a cylinder is equal to k/h and 2k/h for a sphere, where k is the conductive heat transfer coefficient and h is the convective heat transfer coefficient.
Laser Triangulation Sensors
“How can we measure distance using lasers?”
Laser Triangulation Sensors work as follows. A laser that will be reflected will be focused on an object. When this object moves, the reflection is picked up by the installed PSD detector lens, which then uses the voltage reading to find the distance.
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.
“What happens when there is an unintentional drop in electric voltage in a power supply system?”
What roads were to Rome the electric grid is to modern civilization. Like a heart pumping blood to the rest of the body, the grid ensures that every component receives enough vital supplies. But sometimes, there is not enough voltage to go around, and as a result components will need to take a drop in voltage. This phenomenon is known as a brownout, and can lead to unexpected results like all of the lights in the city dimming down or space heaters losing their practical functionality.
“How can we design a linkage to allow an element to stay in one place on command?”
Linkages are some of the most beautiful contraptions in the science of engineering. However, one problem is that when one part moves, all parts seem to move at the same time.
But does this have to happen?
If we think back to circles, we can see that if we place a line on the radius and revolves it, no matter what direction that link moves the center will stay put. So what if we were to simply put a link’s end on the centerpiece? Well, this is the basic idea behind something known as a Dwell Mechanism. Dwell mechanisms can also be shaped such that they change position when their connecting link moves past a certain angle, as seen in link EF the figure.