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.
Student involvement is a critical component of our project. Initially an independent project led by Kurt Kung, HydraPower has evolved over the past several years with the aid of students from a wide variety of academic disciplines. In addition to Kurt, the current HydraPower team consists of an undergraduate engineering student and three graduate students from the Evans School of Public Affairs who work to increase public awareness and education. Each team member will be enrolled as a full-time student throughout the project period, with the exception of Kurt Kung, who will be conducting post-doctoral work for the Bioengineering department.
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. Although the goal of our project is for the three devices to stand alone and function autonomously on a daily basis, there are various opportunities for interested parties to get involved with our project. Each of the three devices will be accompanied by a small poster which briefly explains how the device functions. These posters will also include contact information for students to get in touch with Kurt if they’re interested in joining our team or have any questions. Furthermore, each of the three devices will be set up to track motion, and our poster will invite students to wave and interact with the device. This added component is intended to engage the campus community in a more stimulating way than simple informative posters.
There are ample opportunities for students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to get involved with the project. Engineering students who are interested in alternative and sustainable energy are welcome to volunteer to help in the lab with Kurt. Students who are interested in the technology may also volunteer to help with educational outreach throughout campus. Over time, students could also help us with feasibility studies to find other applications for the technology.
Education & Outreach:
- Energy Use
Our team is well-equipped to complete this project successfully. Kurt Kung, 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, works alongside Kurt on the technical aspects of the device. Lucas DuSablon, Forrest Howk and Xinying Zeng also bring extensive educational outreach and project management skills to our team. We have also established a transition plan to ensure the longevity of the project. Kurt Kung is scheduled to defend his doctoral dissertation in late May; however he intends on pursing post-doctoral research with his department after graduation, enabling him to continue to work on the project. All other team members will be full-time students during the 2015-16 school year. In the autumn of next academic year, our team will pursue adding additional team members as needed, based on interest, need and skill-sets. In the circumstance that one or more of the devices falters during its use, we will utilize our budgeted funds to repair or replace the non-functional components. The vast majority of problems that may arise would require fixes to the device’s electronics or sensors, resulting in minimal costs. In the unfortunate event that major damage occurs to one or more of the devices, we will likely need to perform repairs that could take weeks to months. If the device is implemented smoothly and no repairs are needed, HydraPower is committed to returning these unused funds to the Campus Sustainability Fund upon the completion of the project.
Explain how the impacts will be measured:
We will measure the performance of this prototype in several ways upon its implementation in UW buildings. The remote sensor will keep a running tally of the amount of energy generated, allowing us to measure the amount of energy generated by each device. Each device will also include a small sensor, which will count the number of passersby who walk by the device each day. These quantitative measure will provide us with crucial data that we can use as an initial benchmark for future iterations of the device.
As mentioned in the student outreach section of the proposal, we will also measure the impact of the project in terms of student involvement. Despite inherent difficulties in measuring and quantifying metrics such as total students reached, the device’s location in campus buildings ensures students will interact with the devices on a daily basis. Furthermore, we will include 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. HydraPower will conduct informal bi-monthly surveys in buildings with the devices to determine if students are seeing the devices and learning about the technology.
Due to the relative infancy of the HydraPower device, each device will be installed on its own instead of replacing a different device. Therefore, we will not be able to measure the amount of electricity saved, only the amount of clean energy generated. This metric will serve both as a benchmark for our team and an opportunity to determine practical applications of the device. In the future, HydraPower will utilize the data and implement these devices in lieu of other devices that use energy.
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:
|Item||Cost per Item||Quantity||Total Cost|
|3-D Printing Service Fee||$2,000||1||$2,000|
|Nafion (synthetic polymer)||$1,000||1||$1,000|
|RA Position Funding Match (This is $1,128/month for 6 months, or half of the regular RA salary. Bioengineering has committed to match this amount.)||$6,768||1||$6,768|
|Repairs (speculative, in case of need)||$282||1||$282|
|Organization||Application Status||Amount of Funding Sought||Project Timeline||Purpose|
|Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program||In development||TBD||January 2016 - December 2016||Development of 10-20 additional prototypes; continued research and development of the technology|
|UW Green Seed Fund Program||Awaiting next application period||$50,000||January 2016 - December 2016||Research Funding|
|Task||Timeframe||Estimated Completion Date|
|Continued development of three (3) prototypes||April 2015 – September 2015||September 15, 2015|
|Installation of three (3) fully-functional prototypes; one in the W.H. Foege Building, one in Parrington Hall, and one in a third building that has yet to be determined||September 2015||September 19, 2015|
|Continued research into expanding the capacity of the devices||October 2015 – March 2016||March 31, 2016|
|Informal verbal feedback from students in each building||Bi-monthly, beginning in October, 2015||March 31, 2016|