Florida Solar Energy Center, The Energy Chronicle, a newsletter of the Florida Solar Energy Center header
A Research Institute of the University of Central Florida Issue No. 2: January 2005

Letter "W"elcome to the second edition of The Energy Chronicle, the Florida Solar Energy Center's (FSEC®) new online quarterly newsletter.

We have features this issue on the center's new director, two unique houses on display at the International Builders Show, a training program in the Caribbean, a solar-powered education building in Maryland, and a possible novel source of hydrogen. You'll also find details on our latest news, activities and events.

The response to our first issue was terrific, and we encourage you to send us your comments, suggestions and ideas for future issues, click here.

TOP STORIES

NEWS NOTES

NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE

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Gossamer® Wind
Fan Saves Energy

Gossamer Wind ® series ceiling fan

The FSEC-developed Gossamer Wind series ceiling fan is saving consumers more than $12.5 million in energy costs annually. More than 678,000 of the fans – the first residential ceiling fans specifically designed and engineered to maximize air movement and improve indoor comfort -- have been sold in the past four years. Read the complete story of the fan’s development and features at www.fsec.ucf.edu/
en/research/buildings/
gossamerwind.htm
or see the news release at http://securedb.fsec.ucf.edu/
pls/operation/press_
display?pressid=2163
.


CALENDAR

Installation of Grid-Connected Photovoltaic System
January 31 — February 4
Distributed Power Systems: Engineering Overview
March 11

Distributed Power Systems: Integration with Buildings
March 11

Energy Gauge Class 1, 2, 3
March 14-19

Distributed Power Systems: Engineering Overview
April 15
Distributed Power Systems: Integration with Buildings
April 15
Energy-Efficient Florida Home Building
April 27
Florida Green Home Designation
April 28
Checklist for Sustainable Development
April 29

TOP STORIES


An Interview With the New Director

photo of Dr. James Fenton sitting at desk
Dr. James Fenton
(Photo: Nick Waters)

On January 3, just a few hours after beginning his first day as FSEC’s new director, Jim Fenton talked with us about his new position.


Let’s pretend for a minute that today is January 3, 2006, and you’ve been in this job for a full year. Take a look back at that year and tell us how it went.

“Well, let’s think about that. I’ve been called a ‘dreamer’ on more than one occasion, so let’s review how my dreams for the year might have turned out.

During the year, we hired four new people to work with us on our research staff. They’re serving in tenure track faculty positions, and are affiliated with academic departments on the UCF campus, though they’re doing all their research right here at FSEC.

I see quite a few new graduate students working in our labs. Faculty members both at FSEC and on the main campus are serving on their committees and advising these students.

We’ve held several programs in a new seminar series that has brought in some distinguished speakers – in fact, we found a couple of our new researchers in this group when they came down as invited presenters. The guest speakers have spoken to the faculty on the main campus and have come over here to talk to our staff and even give presentations to the general public.

I think we’ve accomplished a lot of things in-house as well, ranging from filling some key positions that have been “interim” for a while to getting some exciting new education programs going and bringing in representatives of industry and other energy organizations to talk about our plans for the future. We’ve had legislators, government officials and others all in our building, learning about our activities and sharing their own plans and goals with us.” <Full Story> blue diamond Top

Two Builders' Show Houses Benefit from FSEC Assistance

photo of FSEC researcher, Eric Martin, duct testing at air conditioning return.
Eric Martin and other FSEC researchers perform a great deal of testing on duct systems.
(Photo: Nick Waters)

FSEC is playing a key role in two show houses on display at this year’s International Builders Show held in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Annual Convention in Orlando January 13-16.

Two of the show’s demonstration houses have been developed with the assistance of FSEC buildings division researchers.

The Not So Big Show House – actually a house larger than 2500-square-feet -- received building science technical assistance from two of the Department of Energy’s Building America teams, FSEC and Steven Winters Associates. FSEC staff made recommendations for locating this home in Florida’s hot and humid climate and adapting it for the best mechanical and ventilation systems. Researchers have also conducted air-tightness tests on the house and are monitoring its energy usage to verify the energy-efficient features are working as projected.

Researchers also worked with Palm Harbor Homes in developing a “green-certified,” affordable alternative to other showcase houses. The modular home on display is a 3-bedroom, 2-bath plus home office model. FSEC provided technical assistance and recommendations for selecting the energy and indoor air quality equipment and envelope thermal efficiency, recommending the SIP roof and unvented crawl space, ventilation and indoor air quality (IAQ) design.
<Full Story> blue diamond Top


FSEC Assists Maryland Environmental Education Facility with New PV System

photo of photovoltaic arrays that power the Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center
Photovoltaic arrays power the Hard Bargain Farm education building.
(Photo: Jim Dunlop)

Staff members in FSEC’s PVDG Division recently completed the design, installation and monitoring of a new photovoltaic system at a unique environmental educational facility located near Washington, D.C. The system is powering a residential-based overnight education building that thousands of students, teachers and parents visit annually.

The facility, which is operated by the Alice Ferguson Foundation, a nonprofit education organization based at the Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, serves more than 10,000 students from the D.C. area annually at the farm and regional National Parks. Students and their teachers spend a day or more learning about the natural environment, farming and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River watershed in a variety of educational programs, science camps and special events.

In mid-November, FSEC staff members Jim Dunlop and Donard Metzger completed acceptance tests and installed data acquisition equipment for a 12-kWp interactive PV system that will provide an estimated 75 percent of the energy needs for the farm’s Wareham Lodge.

FSEC worked with the foundation staff in conducting site surveys and developing project bid specifications, facilitating meetings with the local utility and code officials on installation and interconnection matters, helping review bids and selecting a contractor, conducting final acceptance for the PV system, and installation of data monitoring equipment.
<Full Story> blue diamond Top

Thornbloom Conducts Hot Water Workshops in Barbados

photo of someone installing a Solar Dynamics solar water heater on a metal roof
FSEC trains solar water heater installers
in Barbados.
(Photo: Mark Thornbloom)

FSEC’s Mark Thornbloom and solar industry member Jim Ogle of DKF Distributors were in Barbados recently to conduct solar domestic hot water installer workshops. During their two weeks in the country, Thornbloom, a senior research engineer at FSEC, and Ogle rode along on service calls and installations with technicians from Solar Dynamics, the company that contracted with FSEC to conduct the program.

They also helped evaluate a new collector mount and developed more effective, hurricane-resistant techniques for mounting the collectors, using locally-available materials. The trainers conducted hands-on labs to introduce the new methods to the technicians. <Full Story>blue diamond Top

Used Automobile Oil Source of Hydrogen

photo of researcher making an adjustment on an experiment
FSEC researcher
Karthik Ramasamy
adjusts hydrogen
production system.
(Photo: Nick Waters)

While the phrase “Hydrogen Economy” is heard often these days and is widely anticipated by people who hope to see our world function using renewable energy resources, all agree that a lot of complex preparatory work still needs to be done.

One of the more interesting FSEC hydrogen projects going on now deals with a unique way to produce hydrogen. Dr. Ali Raissi and Karthikayan Ramasamy are developing a process to produce hydrogen based on reformation of used automotive lubricating oils. Used lube oil – often considered just another substance to be disposed of – can be valuable when recycled as a re-refined lubricant or as an energy source. Each year, Floridians generate more than more than 45 million gallons of used lubricating oils. Typically, used lubricating oil is delivered at a cost of 10 cents per gallon, making it a potentially inexpensive source for local production of hydrogen.

Since lube oil contains a complex mixture of higher hydrocarbons, it is very difficult to break it down using thermal energy alone. At FSEC, Raissi and Ramasamy have built a thermocatalytic reactor that uses supercritical water to accomplish reformation of lube oils.

Water becomes a supercritical fluid at temperature above 374.2°C and pressure over 22.1 MPa. In the Supercritical region, densities are a fraction of that of normal liquid water, while solubility behavior is closer to that of high-pressure steam.

To date, FSEC researchers have operated this system successfully and have demonstrated that hydrogen can be produced by using the supercritical water reformation method.

To view a video showing the laboratory apparatus and an animation of the FSEC process for producing hydrogen from used lube oil, click on http://media.fsec.ucf.edu. Top

NEWS NOTES

Florida Solar Energy Center Awards $4.85 Million to Universities to Continue Hydrogen Research for NASA

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has awarded $4.85 million to Florida universities to conduct hydrogen research. The new awards will allow university researchers to continue work on existing projects and begin research on fuel cells for flight. Universities participating in the program are Florida A&M University, Florida International University, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of South Florida and University of West Florida.

This multi-year, multi-million dollar project is funded by grants from NASA Glenn Research Center with the objective of supporting NASA's hydrogen-related space and space launch activities. The total funding for this year's NASA Hydrogen Research at Florida Universities was $7.275 million. FSEC is co-program manager with the University of Florida. blue diamond Top

Florida Green Local Government Standard Release

Florida city and county governments can now become certified "green," thanks to a
new environmental certification program that recognizes and rewards cities and
counties for making environmental stewardship a priority in functions performed by
the local government.

For the complete story, click on the news release link below.
http://securedb.fsec.ucf.edu/operation/press_display?pressid=2164 blue diamond Top

Florida Green Local Government Standard Release

Florida city and county governments can now become certified "green," thanks to a
new environmental certification program that recognizes and rewards cities and
counties for making environmental stewardship a priority in functions performed by
the local government.

For the complete story, click on the news release link below.
http://securedb.fsec.ucf.edu/operation/press_display?pressid=2164 blue diamond Top

FSEC Receives Contract to Improve Efficiency of Central Air Conditioners

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), under funding from the State Technologies
Advancement Collaborative, will participate in a research project to reduce the
energy use of residential air-conditioning systems. The project will focus on the
development of next-generation central air-conditioning performance ratings,
development of a central air conditioner specifically for hot/humid climates, and
contractor training. Southern Company Services will also contribute funds toward
FSEC's portion of the project.

For the complete story, click on the news release link below.
http://securedb.fsec.ucf.edu/operation/press_display?pressid=2160 blue diamond Top

FSEC Receives Contract to Expand Building Energy Simulation Program

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has received a $252,000 contract from the
U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory to expand the
modeling capabilities of DOE's EnergyPlusTM building energy simulation
program.

The program is being developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a number of
other contributors, including FSEC. It lets architects, engineers, building owners
and managers assess the impacts of their design choices and operating practices on
energy use and operating costs.

For the complete story, click on the news release link below.
http://securedb.fsec.ucf.edu/operation/press_display?pressid=2159 blue diamond Top

Early Holiday Gifts for Universities as Florida Solar Energy Center Awards $4.85 Million to Continue Hydrogen Research for NASA

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has awarded $4.85 million to Florida universities to conduct hydrogen research. The new awards will allow university researchers to continue work on existing projects and begin research on fuel cells for flight. Universities participating in the program are Florida A&M University, Florida International University, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of South Florida and University of West Florida.

This multi-year, multi-million dollar project is funded by grants from NASA Glenn Research Center with the objective of supporting NASA's hydrogen-related space and space launch activities. The total funding for this year's NASA Hydrogen Research at Florida Universities was $7.275 million. FSEC is co-program manager with the University of Florida.

For the complete story, click on the news release link below.
http://securedb.fsec.ucf.edu/operation/press_display?pressid=2165 blue diamond Top

NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE

Lakeland Electric Trades Renewable Energy Credits

Lakeland Electric has become the first utility in the country to produce and trade renewable energy credits derived from solar water heaters. They sold a package of 50 MWh of “green tags” made up of 25 MWh from PV systems and 25 MWh from solar water heaters for $40/MWh.

View the complete story in .pdf format at:
http://www.appanet.org/files/PDFs/Utilitysellsgreentagsbasedosolarwaterheaters.pdf
Top

Hydrogen Vehicles in Florida

The state has purchased eight of the world’s first commercially available hydrogen vehicles. The Ford hydrogen-powered shuttle buses will be used at Wekiwa Springs State Park and by representatives of Progress Energy Florida. For more information, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2005/01/0109_01.htm. blue diamond Top


This newsletter has been produced by Ken Sheinkopf, Adrienne Henzmann and Sherri Shields.

Florida Solar Energy Center