Our project, HydraPower, is a new, innovate technology that produces clean, alternative energy. HydraPower functions by capturing and generating energy from light, specifically infrared (IR) light. The device collects energy from ambient IR light, which is ubiquitously present at all times of day. Therefore, it provides stable power at all times of day without needing additional power supplied by rechargeable batteries. The ability to generate constant, stable power is a stark improvement from solar photovoltaic technologies, which are limited by sunlight.
The total cost of this project is $12,000. With this funding, we will create three fully functional prototypes by September 2015 and install them in UW campus buildings in late September, prior to the 2015-16 academic year. We’ve broken our project’s timeline into two phases. The first phase includes the physical development of three prototypes over the next six months, from April through September 2015. The second phase includes the physical installation of these devices in buildings on the UW campus, as well as continued development of prototypes that provide increased energy outputs. Funding from the Campus Sustainability Fund is intended for phase one, which will support the creation of three fully-functional devices to utilize in UW buildings for phase two. Currently, we have formal approval from the W.H. Foege Building to install one device and an accompanying poster in the building. Although we have received verbal confirmation, we are awaiting the final signature from Parrington Hall to set up the device and poster. Our third building site is still to be determined; however we are targeting one of the campus libraries in order to maximize visibility to the entire student body. Other than their locations, there are no differences between the three devices.
HydraPower’s brief history began in 2010 as a research project developed by Kurt Kung, a PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering. The initial idea for this technology stemmed from basic water research in Dr. Gerald Pollack’s laboratory. Upon realizing the technology’s potential, Kurt began to develop an initial prototype which generated one nano-watt of energy. Currently, the technology can produce nearly one milli-watt of energy output. Despite the relatively low power output, the technology’s future potential is demonstrated by its recent history of exponential improvement. The output has increased to create nearly 1,000,000 times the energy since its first iteration, and our current research suggests that similar increases in energy output are feasible.
We will begin by using these devices to help power wireless sensors in several campus buildings. Specifically, our device will be placed alongside current remote sensors in these buildings, where they will initially help generate power needed without being the sole power source. As our prototypes prove their consistency, they will then become the main power source for these sensors.