Month: August 2018

Why Planar Lines With the Same Slope Never Meet

Why Planar Lines With the Same Slope Never Meet

Why Planar Lines With the Same Slope Never Meet

08/22/18

“Why is is that lines in a plane with the same slope never meet?”

 

Lines in a plane usually intersect at some point. But with one exception. If the lines have the same slope, then they will never meet! This is because they are parallel to each other and planar parallel lines never meet.

How Building-Integrated PV Can Increase Climate Resiliency

How Building-Integrated PV Can Increase Climate Resiliency

How Building-Integrated PV Can Increase Climate Resiliency

08/21/18

“How do solar panels on buildings increase climate resiliency?”

 

With the advent of exacerbated global catastrophes, climate change resiliency must be built into all of our critical infrastructure systems. One facet is this is to reduce the reliance on long-distance transmission for electricity and carbon-intensive energy sources. One way to do this is to implement building-integrated solar PV. with BIPV systems, clean energy can be generated on site (allowing for off-grid power use even in the case of a blackout), and the need for transmission lines will be reduced (fewer transmission lines can reduce the potential for wildfires). In short,  Building-Integrated PV Can Increase Climate Resiliency.

 

Renewable vs Zero Carbon Energy Resources

Renewable vs Zero Carbon Energy Resources

Renewable vs Zero Carbon Energy Resources

08/20/18

“Is there a difference between a renewable energy resource and a zero carbon one?”

 

Renewable energy is often tied to the idea of having zero carbon emissions. But not all net carbon zero energy resources are renewable. Some like Nuclear is run off elements with finite supply but do not add any more CO2 to the atmosphere. This is the prime difference Renewable and Zero Carbon Energy Resources, with the former meaning that the original source is replenishable and the latter meaning the use of this energy source does not (directly) contribute to climate change. This little piece of knowledge is vital for making policy decisions, where we might have to compare the trade-offs between the viability of renewables and meeting climate goals.

 

What is causing the California Wildfires and What Can We Do About It?

What is causing the California Wildfires and What Can We Do About It?

What is causing the California Wildfires and What Can We Do About It?

08/19/18

“Why are there so many wildfires in California now and how can we fix them?”

 

I love living in Northern California. Whether it be the myriad of different natural wonders I can visit, the passionate people who want to change the world, or the wealth of scientific opportunity that is available. But things are definitely changing and it’s not just the housing prices. It seems like wildfires are becoming more frequent and even more deadly. And the statistics say that this isn’t just my intuition. 13 of the 20 greatest fires in recorded Californian history have taken place since the turn of the millennium, and the average cost to fight them has only grown.

 

Why is this happening? There are many reasons. Increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall have left much of the state arid and prone to combustible accidents. Aging transmission infrastructure has resulted in power lines becoming more prone to failure, often times resulting in a fire occurring. Suburban sprawl has also led to overdevelopment in fire-prone areas. 

 

So what can we do about this? Well, we can adapt our infrastructure and society to climate change to increase our resilience to climate change. This can be accomplished by repairing grid lines, restricting development in fire-prone areas, and reducing reliance on the grid through distributed energy resources such as building integrated solar. If California can take action to solve these problems, then it can provide an example for other areas facing similar catastrophes such as Portugal and India to follow. Only through these actions can we ensure the safety of our society.

The fact that I couldn’t see the Santa Cruz mountains from San Jose or breathe the fresh marina air in Berkeley in the way I used to take for granted troubles me greatly. I want to ensure that the next generation will have the same privileges I had during my early years in the Bay. 

Solar Savings Fraction

Solar Savings Fraction

Solar Savings Fraction

08/18/18

“How can we measure what percentage of the energy to appliances is provided by solar?”

 

Household appliances automatically become greener when they are supplied by solar energy. But solar energy may not provide all of the energy to a system. So how can we quantify how much energy an appliance receives from solar? Well, we can simply represent this by the Solar Savings Fraction which gives the ratio of solar in the system. A solar fraction of 1.0 means that the entire system used solar energy while one of 0 means that no solar is present. Energy efficiency measures can increase this fraction by reducing the load required from non-renewable resources.

 

Solar Thermal Collectors

Solar Thermal Collectors

Solar Thermal Collectors

08/07/16

“How can we intake the fluid in a Solar Thermal System?”

 

Solar Thermal Systems are amazing machines that can heat a home using solar energy. However, how can we take in the air or heat-absorbing fluid in the first place? Well, what if we were to encase the solar panels in solar thermal collectors which could intake the fluid, move it around the solar panels to absorb the heat, and then transfer it? Well, this is known as Solar Thermal Collectors and are a vital component for solar thermal systems.

 

How We Can Use Natural Gas to Generate Electricity

How We Can Use Natural Gas to Generate Electricity

How We Can Use Natural Gas to Generate Electricity

08/16/18

“How is natural gas used to make electricity?”

 

Natural gas is one of the fastest growing energy resources out there. But how exactly does it generate electricity? Well, natural gas can be burned in a boiler that heats up water into steam which turns a turbine with a generator attached. Some of the steam at the end of the cycle can even be put through another turbine in a combined cycle generation system to increase the energy efficiency. This way, we can use natural gas to generate electricity!

 

Solar Water Heating

Solar Water Heating

Solar Water Heating

08/15/18

“How can we warm our homes using solar energy?”

 

Solar panels are famous for providing clean and cheap energy. However, that’s not the only thing they can give. A typical solar panel will convert 14% of the energy it receives from the sun into electricity, while the rest is dissipated as heat. This extra heat can be used to heat incoming air which can then be funneled down a vent into an energy transfer module which not only warms a building’s water supply but also provides nice filtered air to the interior space. This system is known as Solar Water Heating and is one of the most exciting technologies in development.

Phase-Change Materials for Solar PV Cooling

Phase-Change Materials for Solar PV Cooling

Phase-Change Materials for Solar PV Cooling

08/14/18

“What is an innovative way to cool solar PV?”

 

Solar PV has the highest growth rate amongst all forms of energy. However, in order to operate effectively, it must be at a stable temperature. One way to do this is to use something known as Phase-Change Materials. Phase-Change Materials are high heat coefficient materials at their phase-change temperature. Because they have a high heat coefficient, they can absorb a large amount of heat without fully changing their state. Phase-Change Materials are employed in Building-Integrated Solar PV Systems to keep them at optimal temperatures.