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ENERGY & DESIGN LAB

National Centre for Plasma Science & Technology/School of Electronic Engineering, DCU
he Energy & Design Lab in the National Centre for Plasma Science & Technology and School of Electronic Engineering DCU is a relatively new addition to the Universitys research interests. The lab is headed by Stephen Daniels. One of the goals is for the lab to engage directly with industry to develop solutions based on focused research and commercial know-how. There are numerous on-going projects which can be complemented by projects from undergraduate and postgraduate students. So far, the main area of focus has been on sustainability in terms of energy monitoring, awareness and conservation. A great deal of work has taken place on campus with local schools to create an energy consumption awareness and demonstrations of alternative energy sources. During the 2009 Engineers Week, the students from the energy lab assisted groups of primary school children to build their own small hydrogen powered cars. This activity allowed the children learn the process of producing hydrogen through electrolysis and then utilizing that hydrogen to power their model cars. On the DCU open days prospective students are encouraged to use a power generating bike built by students in the lab. This bike is connected to monitoring equipment which indicates how long they would be able to power common household equipment based on the amount of energy they generated in a 30 second cycling session. This allowed students to appreciate the level of power required to power items such as their XBOX 360, if only for a few seconds in some cases! A prototype energy simulation game is being developed which will allow children of all ages to control the traditional energy sources in Ireland. Using a point based awards system; users will be encouraged to find alternatives sources of energy to supply the needs of the country. The energy sources will be based on real world values thus educating users on the realities of power generation. This experience would demonstrate the advantages or disadvantages of renewable energy and traditional energy sources. These sources would be vulnerable to common issues such as calm weather, soaring oil prices and varying demands on the power grid etc as is the case in their real life operation. It is intended that this game could be used as an educational tool in primary and secondary schools to help inform children about how the energy industry works and the effort required to build a sustainable energy network. The lab is also working with an innovative power solutions company, Cinergy Ltd. This company provides renewable and hybrid power sources to telecoms companies both nationally and internationally. One of their products facilitates telecoms base stations, which may not have access to reliable grid power, to transition from traditional AC generators to more efficient DC energy sources. Another product involves the use of an innovative monopole structure which contains all of the operators transmission equipment and also utilises a wind turbine on the top of the structure. This setup allows operators to quickly deploy a transmission site and use the power generated by the wind turbine to offset their power consumption on sites connected to the grid. One of the PhD students in the lab is working with Cinergy to provide innovative monitoring solutions for each of the different types of telecoms installations. This work involves physical wiring of the sensors, data acquisition from those sensors and analysis of the data which provides valuable feedback of the day to day operation of each system. Any improvements in the system can then be more easily identified leading to further savings for both Cinergy and their customers. A model environment is also under construction to simulate energy usage in the home. This will demonstrate the power consumption of appliances based on their size, type and energy rating if applicable. Once the model has been constructed, a physical representation of household appliances will be built to verify the accuracy of the software based model. Over time the physical system will be monitored with potential areas of energy conservation identified. This work will also be applicable to the labs relationship with Musgraves who are looking to reduce energy usage in all of their equipment, particularly fridges. REGI - Renewable Energy Game Ireland

Cinergy Monopole and Hybrid Generator undergoing testing before deployment to the UK.

Mr Shane Phelan and Dr Stephen Daniels. Email: stephen.daniels@dcu.ie http://energylab.eeng.dcu.ie/energylab/ and www.ncpst.ie