The Role of the Laboratory in a Green Engineering Course

January 2016
Proceedings for the Northeast Region Decision Sciences Institute;2016, p1
Conference Proceeding
Conference Paper
This study explores positive accept of several alternative energy laboratories that have been designed and constructed to support a course entitled Solar Energy Systems here at Western New England University. These laboratories, which give students hands-on experience and a better understanding of basic concepts in wind energy, solar energy, and fuel cell technology, utilize an Alternative Energy Learning Platform, as well as an indoor/outdoor Alternative Energy Laboratory facilities. The alternative energy indoor/outdoor laboratory facility includes six 195 Watt photovoltaic panels, a 30,000 Btu/clear day flat-plate solar collectors, a Thermomax evacuated tubes solar collector, as well as a full scale 1 kW wind turbine, whose scale allows for useful power to be provided to the engineering building. This facility has been fully instrumented for the collection of key performance data and allows for large scale demonstration of alternative energy systems to students. Students' feedback so far has been very positive and indicates that the Learning Platform, which uses wind and solar energy to power an electrolyzer to disassociate water into hydrogen and oxygen, and then subsequently uses the hydrogen and oxygen in a fuel cell to power a fan, has been an excellent tool in their learning of each component in the system. This paper further explores whether such alternative energy laboratories enhance the ability of students to understand alternative energy systems and prepare them to use their skills productively in the design, commercialization, and use of processes and products in a way that minimizes pollution and promotes sustainability.


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