I absolutely love hearing about young engineers achieving amazing technological advances. Without a doubt, energy is the HOTTEST topic in the engineering world right now and will be for a while to come. With peak oil looming and the remainder of the world’s fossil fuels reserves becoming increasingly difficult to extract (and of course the effect of fossil fuels on global warming), developed and developing nations alike have been scrambling for alternate fuel sources to ensure their prosperity into the future.
We’ve all heard of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy, but simply switching over to these is highly impractical (costly and risky as these depend on weather conditions etc.). Engineers have realised that we will need a combination of these alternate energy sources to supplement our existing energy grid as we gradually (as technology advances), switch over to full renewable energy sources. Also, new technology is able to monitor the energy usage of your home and turn off certain appliances that you never use, channeling it elsewhere in the grid for more efficient usage! The problem comes in controlling all of this.
Enter the smart-grid!
So, remember a few posts back I mentioned the Ecohawks and that AWESOME and super-sexy smart-grid they were building? This group of students from the university of Kansas’s smart-grid (above) has a solar panel, wind turbine and battery pack attached to a popcorn maker. The grid is designed to prioritise the renewable energy-source that is most effective at the time, (wind when its windy, solar when the suns out) and charge the battery when the device is resting. Itsincredibly complex system of control is the true heart of this project. The great things is that this device may well be the future of energy for most of us worldwide! (Canada is already using it).
The Ecohawks they presented their project at the P3 (People, Prosperity and Planet) finals in Washington DC last week and got an honourable mention!
Note to possible investors: this project needs funding to continue the amazingly advanced research these young engineers are doing. Smart grid is the future of energy usage in developed countries and perhaps the world. Contact me to get in touch with them.
This is going to be a very short post as I need to head out to an EWB conference-planning meeting in a bit. Actually Its a bit of an advert for EWB-SA (don’t hate-its a good cause)!
We’re organizing EWB-SA’s First National Conference, with the theme (to be confirmed) relating to coming together as an organisation for growth. The 3-day conference will serve a few purposes:
- Skills transfer and development for future student EWB committee members. They will attend workshops relating to setting up and managing EWB chapters and projects.
- Bring all stakeholders of EWB together to brainstorm and develop EWB-SA vision and identity as an organisation and plan strategically for the next year.
- Increase awareness of EWB in SA through marketing and exposure.
- Program planning and development- someone to plan the student and professional delegate programs and coordinate it on the day.
- Student delegate administration- someone to coordinate delegate applications and issues on the day
- Guest Speakers – someone to organise and coordinate professional guest speakers and look after them at the event.
- Logistics and venue- someone in Cape Town to drive out to the venues and help with selecting one and dealing with venue issues, coordinating transport for delegates
|Picasso the Pekingese with his new hair-cut!|
The only problem is my little lion-dog pooch…Sigh…well fortunately I found a really sweet lady who has a pet-parlour in the next town and boards dogs. She has these little courtyards so he wont be in a kennel. Wow. Its times like these that I really RESPECT working mums out there. I mean you can’t just dump your 3-year old at some stranger’s place for a week, can you? So cheers to all of you!
Andrew Lamb, CEO of Engineers Without Borders UK said in an interview (see link):
AL – Definitely… In many cases, even though there are vast differences between cultures, women tend to spend most of their time working in or around the home. As a result, if we were working on a clean water project, it makes sense to talk to the women in the communities, because they have to collect the water every day and will have a far better idea of what the issues are. By simply being a women, we find that female volunteers can often build trust with women in these communities a lot faster than male volunteers, and gain important and accurate information.