Employees build strong ties with community

Employees build strong ties with community

While most U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville projects usually take weeks or sometimes even months to complete, some Huntsville Center employees helped demonstrate how a home can be built in a weekend.

Huntsville Center’s Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate’s professionals were asked to participate in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math event with the Alabama Center for Sustainable Energy and Foundations for Tomorrow for the Tiny Home Build weekend Aug. 8-9, at Sci-Quest in Huntsville, Alabama.

The ISPM Energy Team was the solar lead for the construction event. ISPM STEM professionals Raul Alonso, Dominic Ragucci and Jeffery Watts installed solar panels for a pre-existing tiny home and for the home that was built on site.

The team showed area students and the community how to build and power a tiny home in just two days. Tiny houses are often mobile houses of less than 500 square feet and feature multifunctional living spaces, energy efficiency and use of vertical space. During this free community event, visitors were able to see this transportable tiny home being built from start to finish and learn about what it takes to make the tiny living spaces.

Read the full article at http://www.hnc.usace.army.mil/Media/NewsStories/tabid/10749/Article/613118/employees-build-strong-ties-with-community.aspx

ALCSE Projects

Clean Power Plan Could Create Boom in Tenn. Valley Tech Industry

TENNESSEE VALLEY (WAFF) – In the past several years, utility companies have started to move away from coal, opting for cheaper natural gas.

On Monday, President Obama’s Clean Power Plan highlighted the government’s commitment to renewable energy, and showed power companies that they will profit from their investments.

Daniel Tait, with Energy Alabama says there’s still a lot of unknowns surrounding President Obama’s plan, like, what will this mean for your electric bill?

“Until we really learn about what the state of Alabama will be able to do at the state level we don’t necessarily know a whole lot just yet for local consumers or local residents.”

However, he sees the plan as an opportunity for growth in the tech industry in the Valley.

“If we’re looking at technological development in these industries, it could be a huge boom for our area to really try and take advantage of that,” said Tait.

WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

To read the full article, please visit WAFF.com

The American Wind Powered Car

Robert Yost of American Wind was one of the guest speakers at the Sustainable Energy themed Sip & Hatch back in June. Even in just the five minutes he had to describe what his technology does you could “get it”, but what’s not to get?!

 

Granted I’m not a physics major or an engineer, so I’m sure I don’t get it all, but I could still understand the basic premise.

 

Back in 2011 when North Alabama was ravaged by tornadoes and we all spent upwards of a week without power, Yost’s wife sat watching the blades on a fan turn from nothing more than the power of the breeze. “Why can’t we harness that power?” she asked her engineer husband, and his response was greater than she ever expected. He set out to make it happen.

 

The wind turbine that Yost has designed is a fraction of the size of the smallest wind turbines currently on the market, yet it creates more energy. Because of the reduced size it can be used in many more functions and it is safer than a standard wind turbine, with no risk to birds. The reduced size alone creates a number of new opportunities for travel, camping, and military use.

 

The wind turbine that Yost has designed doesn’t look much like the typical windmills or wind turbines. In fact, it looks much more like a jet engine turbine, and that’s because that’s what the design is patterned after. Working similar to an airplane wing or jet turbine, the wind on the backside of the turbine is moving at a much faster speed than the wind on the front side. This pushes the turbine to spin at a faster rate and keeps it spinning.
Some of the current opportunities that Yost is exploring include:

Using the wind to power a car – Yost has plans to use four of his small turbines on top of his hybrid car, increasing the power to the battery and decreasing the time between needed gas refueling or electric charges. Later in the fall he expects to begin a cross-country tour with his car, but before then he may break the World Record for the longest drive without needing to stop for fuel or recharge.

 

Don’t be misled, the car will still be a hybrid. It isn’t a perpetual motion machine. But the MPGs on this hybrid will exceed anything seen on a current gas/electric hybrid, creating a car that will rarely need refueling. Yost says that for the car to be completely wind-powered batteries would need to become super-efficient in comparison to those that currently exist. Wind can’t cover 100% of power needs of a car, especially when the car is sitting in traffic and not moving. Therefore, a hybrid is necessary.

 

American Wind - Wind-powered car
Wind-powered energy for travel needs – Yost has created a stand-alone version of his wind turbine that can be used for travel needs such as camping and hiking. This turbine can be put on a stand or hung from a tree where it will spin in the wind collecting energy to power small appliances while hiking and camping. This version may also have applications for military and other uses. Eventually, a number of these turbines could even be used to power an entire building.

 

Wind turbines for the military – Speaking of military use. The military currently sends out wind turbine kits to their people in the field along with lightweight foldable solar panels. The problem is that the current wind turbines are very large often creating a target for the opposing military to aim at. The turbines from American Wind are a fraction of the size and could replace the existing wind turbines providing power and increased safety for our military.

 

Wind to offset HVAC power – Yost is in talks with HVAC manufacturers to add his small turbines to the top of HVAC units. These turbines would work off the output from the HVAC unit itself (that air that is blown out of the top and sides of the units) creating power to offset the high cost of heating and cooling a home.

 

The potential uses for micro-wind turbines are endless, from wind turbine fields, to offsetting power, to combined uses with other energy sources for homes, hotels, and vehicles, as well as camping and military. Yost has already received one patent for his creation and is waiting on a second one. I imagine that will not be the last one he receives, just as I’m sure that the applications he’s already considered will not be the end of the many uses for his design.

 

Robert Yost reminds us that wind is not the end-all power source. He says that wind and sun, and wind and other power sources work in unison. We have the greatest efficiency when we combine multiple sources. In the case of a car it may be wind and gas, in the case of homes it may be wind and sun.

 

Of course there are detractors, there are those who say “but won’t it create a wind wall?” or “How can a wind turbine push a car against the wind faster than the wind is blowing?” To those Robert points out that it’s already been proven. You can read about it here. He points out that it’s about more than just one simple physics equation, it is multiple equations and it’s about approaching one thing from multiple angles.

 

Can American Wind break physics
In his lab I saw where Yost and his staff are testing whether they can “break physics.” They currently have a small USB fan propelling one their turbines. Within the next few weeks they plan to plug the USB fan directly into the turbine to see if they can power the fan with power from the turbine that the fan is creating power for. Wrap your head around that! They are skeptical that it will work, but looking forward to find out. I don’t know about you but I’m excited to see if it works! Will this be the next big thing? I don’t know but it sure is interesting to watch!

Educating Teachers about Sustainable Energy

One of the key focus areas of Energy Alabama is education. In order to reach our goal of “net zero energy”, our first step must be in educating people about what sustainable energy is and how it can be used to help us reach “net zero” in Huntsville. This means education both for adults and for our children. However, in order to educate children, we have to start with educating teachers about sustainable energy.

presenting at the North Alabama Technology Conference

Last month Energy Alabama had the opportunity to attend the North Alabama Technology Conference (NATC). This is a conference that provides teachers with the opportunity to learn about new technology and how they can incorporate technology into the classroom. NATC was a great opportunity for Energy Alabama to unveil our new lesson plans for teachers.

Energy Alabama recently opened the new education section on our website, providing lesson plans that teachers can use to teach their students about the power of sustainable energy. We offer lesson plans for students as young as kindergarten, and solar STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) kits that can be purchased for the classroom allowing middle and high school students to take energy concepts to the next level. We even host an annual STEM competition called the Switch Blade Competition that challenges high school and college students to redesign and manufacture the blades of a military wind power system, originally designed for the high-speed winds of Afghanistan, so that they work with the low winds of Alabama.

The solar STEM kits allow for real-world investigation of sustainable energy concepts. They can be integrated with provided lesson plans for specific activities like:

  • Tracking the movement of the sun
  • The effect of shading and shadows
  • Projecting energy production based on season
  • Comparing modeled energy production to actual

Of course, many teachers and students will work together to create their own uses for the solar STEM kits, creating an endless number of learning opportunities.

We spoke with many teachers at the conference who were surprised and quite happy to find that there was an option for them. They expressed that many students have asked for these types of learning opportunities but they did not previously have access to them within their budget. Students want to learn but we have to give them what they need so that they can learn the concepts that are vital for future success.

Our lesson plans are free, but unfortunately the supplies needed are not. That’s where you can help out!

Donations to Energy Alabama can be designated for specific uses. A donation as little as $10 will allow us to bring a solar STEM kit into a classroom and assist that teacher in providing sustainable energy education. If you’d like to donate a complete kit to a school or classroom, your donation of $3500 would ensure that your school has what they need to offer sustainable energy education to students for years to come.

Help us improve our educational efforts by getting these solar STEM kits and sustainable energy into our schools. Of course, this is only one of our many efforts to bring sustainable energy education to students and adults alike. We are also available to present educational talks to your students in the classroom, at camps, or even at your church. If you would like to schedule one of our speakers please click here.

If you are a teacher, click here to sign up for our free sustainable energy lesson plans. If you’d like to donate to help us bring sustainable energy education to our schools please click here.

STEM professionals encourage next generation of STEM workers

STEM professionals encourage next generation of STEM workers through educational outreach. We are happy to have been a part of this event and to do everything that we can to encourage our youth and help teach them about sustainable energy.

While many students in Huntsville and surrounding areas are taking time off from their studies this summer, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math professionals helped administrators at a local summer enrichment program show students how summer downtime is a perfect opportunity to reinforce STEM.

Huntsville Center employees Erin Hamilton, Stacey Sapp and Juan Pace from the Engineering Directorate and Wesley Malone, Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate, acted as STEM mentors for kindergarten through eighth grade students in the Indian Creek Primitive Baptist Church Summer Enrichment Program June 19 and July 10, respectively.

Mentors helped students develop problem-solving skills with fun exercises and interactive design competitions. There were opportunities for students to generate drawings, choose fabrics, build a Corps tower, test solar panels and observe a windmill that is powered by the sun.

Indian Creek’s Summer Enrichment Program director Sarah Drake said she implemented the STEM platform for the students due to the Obama administration’s initiation of the Educate to Innovate Program in 2009, to make STEM learning a high priority — particularly to underrepresented populations. She said her goal is to find an innovative ways to introduce STEM activities to younger students and build on some of the concepts the older students have learned during the school year.

Full article available at www.army.mil