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. 4: July 2005

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FEATURE STORIES: Energy-Efficient Transportation



FEATURE STORIES: Energy-Efficient Transportation

Gas Prices Keep Going Up and Up!
A Guide to Energy-Efficient Transportation

gas prices
Recent gas prices in Cocoa, Florida.
(Photo: Nick Waters)

by Danny S. Parker

Nearly 30 percent of the energy used in Florida is consumed by our 13 million personal automobiles that use about 7-1/2 billion gallons of gasoline every year. Florida has more registered cars per capita than any other state with nearly one car for each person.

The average Florida automobile is driven more than 10,000 miles a year, burning about 550 gallons of gasoline and costing its owner about $1200 in fuel costs alone at today's average prices (not to mention payments, insurance, service, repairs, tires, tags, license, etc.). Based on a comprehensive analysis, total automobile operating costs for the typical car owner average more than $800 per month.

Beyond that is the fact that the more gasoline we use, the more pollution we create. For instance, the average car that travels 10,000 miles produces 650 pounds of carbon monoxide, 105 pounds of hydrocarbons, 50 pounds of nitrogen oxides and 12 pounds of particulates. Besides saving on fuel costs and reducing pollutants, lowering automobile fuel consumption will also reduce our state's dependence on unreliable foreign oil supplies.

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FSEC featured in Florida Trend research report. Click here to view the article "Fueling Growth With Innovations."



Commercial Buildings Under Attack by Uncontrolled Airflow
August 1-2
Installation of Grid-Connected Photovoltaic Systems
August 1-5
Energy-Efficient Florida Home Building
August 3
Florida Green Home Designation
August 4
Checklist for Sustainable Development
August 5
Solar World Congress 2005
August 6-12

A Hands-On Building Performance Analysis Workshop

August 7

Energy Gauge FlaCom Rater Training
August 8

From Blueprints to Residential Energy Code Compliance
August 10

EnergyGauge Pro Hands On
August 11

Window Options for Florida Residences
August 11
Diagnosing Moisture Problems
August 12
Energy Gauge Rater Training - Class 3
September 12
Energy Gauge Rater Training-- Class 2
September 13-14
Energy Gauge Rater Training - Class 1
September 15-17

gas prices
Toyota Prius at FSEC
(Photo: Nick Waters)

Would a U.S. "Prius Lifestyle" Make an Impact on our Oil Imports?

Recent rumors on the Web have suggested that if everyone drove a car as efficient as the new Toyota Prius, the U.S. wouldn't need to import any oil. To find out if this were true or not, FSEC's Danny Parker assembled the pertinent research and crunched the numbers with his calculator to see how much impact we'd have on the oil the country imports now if everyone in the U.S. drove a highly efficient hybrid vehicle.

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FSEC helps develop more efficient and durable solar cooker

solar cookers
John Harrison arranges cooker prototypes for outdoor comparisons.
(Photo: Nick Waters)

Most research centers like FSEC depend on contracts and external funding to conduct their programs, and the image of a scientist pursuing grants as aggressively as pursuing his own research interests isn't too far from what often goes on.

Sometimes, though, these same centers get involved in activities that don't bring in any money, but provide societal benefits that make the projects more than worthwhile.

One such project at the Florida Solar Energy Center started five years ago when Philip Fairey got a phone call from Darwin Curtis, one of the founders of Solar Household Energy, Inc. (SHE). Curtis had lived in a number of places around the world during his career in foreign service, and he was a strong advocate of the use of solar cookers in societal development and environmental protection.

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Workshops target rural and agricultural communities

Million Solar Roofs logosIn an effort to help farmers, ranchers and small businesses apply for grants offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Bill, FSEC conducted two free workshops in May throughout Florida.

As part of a grant received from the U.S. Department of Energy's Million Solar Roofs Initiative, the workshops in Tallahassee and in Stuart examined qualifying renewable energy systems and energy efficient improvement projects. In addition, every aspect of the application process was reviewed using a sample application. To further clarify requirements, a question and answer session concluded the workshop.

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"Smart Paints" will help NASA detect hydrogen leaks

Nahid Mohajeri
Nahid Mohajeri
(Photo: Nick Waters)

Because hydrogen is such a light gas, it can readily leak out from a storage tank, in transport or during use posing potential safety problems. Monitoring hydrogen storage and usage sites for leakage is thus a crucial step in a safe operation plan.

FSEC researchers undertook investigations into hydrogen safety to assist NASA in readily discerning the presence of hydrogen leaks as part of the work currently conducted in the Hydrogen Research at Florida Universities project. Working on this research are Drs. Gary Bokerman, Nahid Mohajeri, Nazim Muradov and Ali T-Raissi.

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"Green Roof" Project at UCF Testing New Energy Performance Strategy

EnergyWhiz Olympics participants
"Green Roof" on the UCF Student Union.
(Photo: Jeff Sonne)

The University of Central Florida's Student Union is the test site for an innovative research project that has built and is now monitoring a new roof with plant media and drainage systems that allow a layer of vegetation to grow on it. The project is being led by UCF's Stormwater Management Academy. FSEC was brought in by the state's Department of Environmental Protection to team with the campus researchers to study the energy impacts of the green roof.

This building strategy can improve the facility's energy performance, air quality and the urban ecology without taking up any additional land. Green roof systems have been shown to reduce heat transfer through the roof, decrease stormwater pollutants and cut down on stormwater volume by naturally evaporating the runoff through the plant respiration process.

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Energy Educational Events Dominate Spring Months

EnergyWhiz Olympics participants
Students inspect their hyrogen car.
(Photo: Nick Waters)

April and May were busy months for the education department at FSEC. From facilitating the Middle School Science Bowl in April to sponsoring and coordinating the EnergyWhiz Olympics to hosting the Awards for Exemplary Projects in Energy and Conservation in May, FSEC staffers Susan Schleith and Penny Hall and their many volunteers highlighted energy in the schools in Brevard County and throughout Florida.

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Florida's Miami-Dade County Passes Solar Jobs Ordinance to Attract Solar Manufacturing Businesses

May 19, 2005, Miami-Dade County - The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners passed an ordinance sponsored by Commissioner Katy Sorenson designed to draw solar energy equipment manufacturers to Miami-Dade County. The ordinance allows solar manufacturing businesses locating to Miami-Dade to apply for incentives through the County's Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund Program to attract business investment, especially to economically depressed areas of the County. The new law also creates incentives for environmentally sensitive "green construction" standards for commercial and industrial buildings.

For more information on Miami-Dade County's new ordinance, visit http://irecusa.org/articles/static/1/1116560213_1018302029.html Top

New NREL Fact Sheet: What is the Payback for PV?

Producing electricity with photovoltaics (PV) emits no pollution, produces no greenhouse gases, and uses no finite fossil-fuel resources. The environmental benefits of PV are great. But just as we say that it takes money to make money, it also takes energy to save energy. The term "energy payback" captures this idea. How long does a PV system have to operate to recover the energy and associated generation of pollution and CO2 that went into making the system, in the first place?

For more information on payback for pv, visit http://irecusa.org/articles/static/1/1116361774_1018302029.htmlblue diamond Top

Florida DEP Offices to Receive Hydrogen Fuel Cells

June 16, 2005, TALLAHASSEE — As hurricane season gets underway, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is purchasing twelve hydrogen fuel cell systems. Operating on pure hydrogen with zero emissions, the systems will provide pollution-free backup power for a dozen DEP offices around the state.

For more information on Florida DEP's hydrogen fuel cells, visit
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2005/06/0616_03.htm blue diamond Top

Homosassa Springs State Park Unveils Hydrogen Fuel Cell

June 24, 2005, HOMOSASSA SPRINGS — Moving into the next generation of energy technology, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park today unveiled a hydrogen fuel cell system, which is now powering the park's Wildlife Encounter Pavilion. The partnership between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Progress Energy Florida provides clean energy to the park and shares the benefits of emerging "next-generation" technology with hundreds of thousands of visitors.

For more information on hydrogen fuel cells in Homosassa Springs State Park, visit
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2005/06/0624_02.htm blue diamond Top

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

Florida Solar Energy Center