2 March 2015
Campus Sustainability Fund
University of Washington
Dear CSF Coordinator:
We are writing to gauge the Campus Sustainability Fund’s (CSF) interest in supporting the development and implementation of a new, unique renewable energy device in buildings on the UW campus. Our device, HydraPower, generates clean, renewable energy to power basic building appliances, such as wireless sensors and motion detectors on hand dryers.
HydraPower 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 up to one milli-watt of energy output.
Despite the relatively low power output, we’re extremely optimistic about this technology’s potential. The output has increased to create 1,000,000 times the energy since its first iteration, and our current research suggests that similar increases in energy output are feasible. With support from the CSF, we aim to complete three fully functional prototypes by September and install them in UW campus buildings during the 2015-16 academic year. 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.
HydraPower functions by capturing and generating energy from light, specifically infrared (IR) light. Because the device collects energy from ambient IR light, it provides stable power at all times of day without needing additional power supplied by rechargeable batteries. This is a stark improvement from current alternative energy sources, which are limited by sunlight, such as solar photovoltaic technologies. The CSF has expressed a special interest in the installation of energy efficiency retrofits on existing campus buildings. Our device will fulfill that goal while also engaging the campus community around this cutting-edge technology.
HydraPower will meet the requirements and preferences of the CSF in several additional ways. First of all, our device is specifically designed to reduce the University’s environmental impact while simultaneously making campus more sustainable. We will measure the performance of this prototype in several ways upon its implementation in UW buildings. For example, our remote sensor will keep a running tally of the amount of energy generated, allowing us to measure the amount of energy saved by utilizing the device. This also serves as an educational tool for the student body, which will be able to see unique developments in alternative technology firsthand.
In addition to being designed by a group of UW students, this project will also engage the campus community by being visible in prominent campus buildings. We are currently conducting outreach to over a dozen UW building managers to form partnerships to utilize the device in their buildings. Buildings we’re targeting include the Alaska Airlines Arena, Suzzallo Library, among others. There will be small informational cards near each remote sensor for students to read, allowing them to learn more about this unique, homegrown technology and how they can get involved in our project.
Our team is well equipped to complete this project successfully. Kurt, our team leader, has worked on developing this technology throughout his doctoral education at the UW. Our project currently has a staff mentor, Dr. Gerald Pollack, who has been an integral part of this project and will continue to support our team throughout the duration of the project timeline. Jason Huang, an undergraduate civil engineering student, also works closely on the technical aspects of the device. Lucas DuSablon, Forrest Howk and Xinying Zeng also bring extensive project management skills to our team. Our budget includes a line item for project management to ensure that it receives necessary attention and financial support.
We estimate the cost of this project to be $10,000. These funds will be used specifically for the development of three prototypes to be installed on the UW campus. We will provide a more detailed budget if we are selected to submit a full proposal. In addition to funding from the CSF, we are also currently in the process of applying for additional funds for this project. We currently have a pending application for the UW Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC), and we are working on an application for continued research funding from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Our team emphasizes the importance of diversifying our funding sources, and will continue our ongoing search for funding opportunities throughout the entirety of our project timeline.
Funding provided from the CSF will go directly toward the development of our product. In the immediate term, 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. The second phase includes the physical installation of these devices on the UW campus, as well as continued development of prototypes that provide increased energy outputs. Funding from the CSF is intended for phase one, which allows us to create the technology to utilize in UW buildings to begin phase two. Although there is still additional research to be completed, we have done our due diligence and are seeking funding from the sources listed above explicitly for such research funding.
We hope to have the opportunity to submit a full proposal with additional information for your further review. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments in the meantime. Thank you very much for your time and consideration, we look forward to hearing from you.
Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering
Evans School of Public Affairs