“How can we store energy using steam?”
With the advent of the new energy paradigm, energy storage will play a bigger and bigger factor. Although batteries are promising, they are not an all-encompassing technology and will need support from other systems.
One simple method for storing energy involves steam. What if we were to have a container half filled with cold water and connected to a boiler. Steam can be blown if from the boiler into the container, which condenses and warms the water. When the water is about ¾ of the height, it will be considered stable. A valve can then be opened to release energy by driving the steam through a turbine and boiling the water from the resulting pressure drop. This system is known as a Steam Accumulator and is being constructed in conjunction with many solar thermal plants.
“How can we deal with stormwater runoff using our infrastructure?”
Stormwater runoff poses a massive problem for communities all around the world. To solve this, these same groups can build Stormwater Infrastructure to equip them with the necessary resilience to deal with it. This can include rainwater collection, green roofs, and vegetation-rich areas.
Photo credit Phillywatersheds
Solar Thermal Collectors
“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.
Solar Water Heating
“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.
“How can we control the moisture in a transformer?”
Transformers are some of the most fundamental pieces of critical infrastructure. However, they can also be quite delicate. If there is too much moisture near the insulating material, it can induce a fault. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? Well, what if we were to attach a cylindrical filter filled with silica gel at the entrance of the transformer so that any air that passes through will have its moisture taken out? Well, this is known as a Transformer Breather and is vital for transformer operations.
Transformer Cooling Tubes
“How can we cool the oil in a transformer?”
Transformer oil is vital for winding insulation. However, in order for optimal performance, it must be kept at a cool temperature. So how can we use our engineering mindset to accomplish this? Well, what if we were to simply have the transformer oil circulate in tubes near a cooling source? This is the idea behind Transformer Cooling Tubes and is a staple of transformers in the world.
“How can we control a transformer’s temperature?”
A transformer fault from overheating can rupture an entire distribution grid. So how can we use our engineering mindset to prevent this? Well, how about we take a note from other cooling systems and run a coolant around the wires and core and reject the heat to the ambient space? This is the fundamental idea behind Transformer Cooling which saves tons of transformers each year.
“How can we make room for thermal expansion of transformer oil?”
Transformer Oil is invaluable for its insulation ability. However, like all materials, its volume will expand and contract depending on the temperature. We can solve this by encasing in a structure called a Transformer Conservator that facilitates this volume change.
“Is oil used to insulate transformers?”
Transformers are an inseparable part of Critical Grid Infrastructure. And part of their day-to-day functioning requires insulation material. However, such material will have to be able to withstand high temperatures and sudden electric discharges. This is commonly solved using Transformer Oil, a substance employed all around the world.