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The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2010-05-07 13:00:00
  • Article ID: 564255

U.Va. Installs Solar Panels to Help Fuel Electric Car

  • Credit: Dan Addison

    Solar panel installation

Matt Kelly

General Assignments Writer

(434) 924-7291

mkelly@virginia.edu

U.Va. Installs Solar Panels to Help Fuel Electric Car

February 16, 2010 — University of Virginia students who converted a Honda to run on electricity will now try to power it – at least partly – with solar energy.

Students in James Durand's mechanical engineering class converted the 1994 Accord to run on electricity last year. Now they are working with U.Va. Facilities Management to install photovoltaic panels near its parking space to generate electricity to offset some of what the car consumes.

The panels were installed Tuesday atop a bus kiosk at the Emmet/Ivy Garage and will feed electricity to the garage. The car, which will be used by the Department of Parking and Transportation, will be berthed and recharged at the garage.

"The solar-generated electricity will be part of the power supply for the garage," said Cheryl Gomez, director of utilities for the university. "And we will meter it. Assuming roughly 1,100 hours of sunlight per year, this should yield about 1,320 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year."

The car, which can travel about 120 miles between charges, will probably consume about 3,100 kilowatts of electricity if the car is driven about 5,600 miles per year, Gomez said. This will mean the panels will offset about 43 percent of car's energy use.

"We will put the electricity in one area and take it out another," said Durand, an adjunct professor and research associate in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Six 200-watt photovoltaic cells, measuring about 3 feet by 5 feet each and weighing a total of 240 pounds, were paid for through donations and installed by Facilities Management employees. These panels, which are guaranteed for 25 years, should reduce the University's carbon footprint by about 0.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, Gomez said.

Durand said the electric car would have no emissions and if it is powered by solar energy, "it approaches the more sustainable, because we would not be burning anything. This is alternative energy, with zero emissions, no greenhouse gases and electric cars are quiet as well."

Durand said the car has a cruising speed of about 65 miles per hour.

"It only has one moving part and an electrical motor can last for millions of miles with very little maintenance," Durand said. "This car has about 10 percent of the maintenance cost of a conventional automobile."

Durand said that about 30 students were involved with the project, which has been dubbed "Ride Forward."

"It's an engineering course, but it is multi-disciplinary, with students doing everything from designing the car to constructing it," Durand said. "This a group effort to find sustainable transportation."

Andrew Greene, the University's sustainability coordinator, appreciates that students can conduct their research close to home.

"They can learn in their own backyard," Greene said. "They can bring something new to the University and offer students a learning opportunity."

While this project is to offset the electric draw of the car, Durand has a grander vision.

"I dream of a larger system that will reduce the University's peak power demand, with a smart grid that will store the electricity," he said.

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Cold and Bubbly: The Sensory Qualities that Best Quench Thirst

New research from the Monell Center finds that oral perceptions of coldness and carbonation help to reduce thirst. The findings could guide sensory approaches to increase fluid intake in populations at risk for dehydration, including the elderly, soldiers, and athletes.

J.R. Macdonald Lab receives nearly $8 million DOE grant renewal

MANHATTAN -- A nearly $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy is supporting the "bread and butter" physics research at Kansas State University's James R. Macdonald Laboratory. The grant is a three-year renewal award, "Structure and Dynamics of Atoms, Ions, Molecules and Surfaces." "This big operational grant is our bread-and-butter," said Itzik Ben-Itzhak, university distinguished professor of physics and director of the J.

University contributes art to the new downtown arena

A number of Sac State artworks are joining Jeff Koons' "Coloring Book" in exhibits at the new Golden 1 Center. (Sacramento State/Rob Neep) More photosSac State Professor Rachel Clarke and alumnus Bryan Valenzuela check out the installation of Valenzuela's "Multitudes Converge" glass sculpture at the Golden 1 Center.

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New Method for Reporting Solar Data

A straightforward new way to calculate, compile, and graphically present solar radiation measurements in a format that is accessible to decision makers and the general public has been developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and is described in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

Trapped Sunlight Cleans Water

High energy costs are one drawback of making clean water from waste effluents. According to an article in the journal Biomicrofluidics, a new system that combines two different technologies proposes to break down contaminants using the cheapest possible energy source, sunlight.

Report: Policies to Spur Renewable Energy Can Lower Energy Costs

The South could pay less for its electricity in 20 years than is currently projected if strong public policies are enacted to spur renewable energy production and use, according to a report released today by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University.


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Citi Grant Helps University Students Succeed

Citi Community Development, part of the Citi family of businesses, supports an innovative Academic Success Program at South Dakota State University. The program is designed to help students who have been re-admitted to SDSU following suspension due to low academic achievement.

Iowa State Engineer and Goodrich Partner to Develop Fuel Nozzles

Hui Hu, an Iowa State University associate professor of aerospace engineering, is working with engineers from the Goodrich Corp. to test and characterize the next generation of fuel nozzles.

CSB to Hold Public Hearing Tomorrow, December 15, as Part of the CSB Deepwater Horizon Investigation

CSB Board Will Hear Testimony on how Offshore Drilling is Managed and Regulated in Other Countries

Cornell Joins Team Taking Head-first Plunge Into Algae Biofuels

Cornell University researchers have joined other scientists and a biofuel research company on a mission to develop a commercial-scale algae-to-fuel facility by 2015. The effort is backed by a $9 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Engineering Researchers Partner With Toyota; DOE Grant Will Further Work Toward a More Efficient Charger for Hybrid-Electric Vehicles

A $3.9 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy will allow electrical engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas to continue contributing to the development of a compact and highly efficient silicon-carbide charger for hybrid electric vehicles. The benefits of the project extend beyond vehicles into other areas, such as wind and solar power, and could lead to reduced energy consumption in the United States.

Research Looks at Alternative Power for Military

South Dakota State University has a major role in a $10 million project to deliver alternative power technologies to help the U.S. military supply power to units in the field. The three-year project began in May 2009.

Mixing Blood and Oil: Conference Tackles Similar Challenges from Two Major Industries

Scientists and engineers from two of the nation's largest industries - medicine and energy - came together this week to explore the synergies in moving oil and pumping blood.

Time Ripe to Move Energy Storage Idea Off Drawing Board

Need has caught up with Case Western Reserve University researcher Gerhard Welsch's design for a self-healing, high-energy capacitor he patented a decade ago. ARPA-E has granted Welsch $2.25 million to start producing the small and lightweight device for hybrid and electric cars and more.

Registration Open for Sandia-Sponsored 4th International Conference on Integration of Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources

Registration is open for the 4th International Conference on the Integration of Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources, the premier event for technical discussion of electric integration of new energy resources.

Advanced Energy Conference To Illuminate Latest Technologies For 21st Century Clean Energy Economy

Leading Energy Organizations to Highlight Latest Job-Producing Energy Technologies at Nov. 8-9 Conference in N.Y.C.


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