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Solar Powered Air Conditioning for Elderly, Low Income Houstonians Robert L. Howard, Jr., Ph.D. National Society of Black Engineers Houston Space Chapter.

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Presentation on theme: "Solar Powered Air Conditioning for Elderly, Low Income Houstonians Robert L. Howard, Jr., Ph.D. National Society of Black Engineers Houston Space Chapter."— Presentation transcript:

1 Solar Powered Air Conditioning for Elderly, Low Income Houstonians Robert L. Howard, Jr., Ph.D. National Society of Black Engineers Houston Space Chapter

2 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Introduction The Need –Air conditioning can be as high as 25-40% of a households annual energy costs –Many low-income residents cannot afford this and go without air conditioning –60,000 homes in Houston without power in 2001; only 14,443 in all of Texas received assistance –Senior citizens accounted for 14 out of 20 heat-related deaths in Houston in 2001

3 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Introduction The Need –CDC reports fans are useless at temperatures above 90 deg F with humidity above 35% Spur movement of hot, humid air Causes increased heat stress – accelerates body hearting and raises internal body temperature Essentially turns room into convection oven Should not be used for preventing heat-related illness in areas of high humidity

4 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Introduction Problem persists despite local efforts to help –Window air conditioners donated, but wiring in many homes cannot handle added load –1998 fatality: widower had turned off air conditioner to save money –Houston libraries and multipurpose centers open as cooling centers, but inaccessible to some: elderly less mobile, afraid to leave home, lack transportation

5 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Introduction Excellent opportunity for NSBE and NASA to come together in mutual fulfillment of charters NSBE-Houston Space Chapter can make a positive impact by installing solar powered air conditioners in as many elderly, low income households as possible

6 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Introduction Provides a cool zone within home – elderly do not have to leave homes to be safe Does not interfere with limited house wiring Will not increase household electric bill Technology available off the shelf, but not accessible to these communities – cost and unfamiliarity; we will bring it to them

7 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Introduction Harmony of NSBE and NASA objectives –NASA vision is to improve life here, to extend life there, to find life beyond. –NSBE mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community Solar power system improves life here in a culturally responsible way that positively impacts the community If we dont do it, who will?

8 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Introduction Service project may well save lives; at minimum it will increase the comfort of our elderly Also benefits chapter members by providing hands-on technical experience many will not encounter in day-to-day job responsibilities

9 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Brief Survey of Solar Electric Power More than just a set of solar panels Variety of components required for proper functioning Photovoltaic Panel –Three basic types: single crystal silicon, polycrystal silicon, and thin film/amorphous –Convert sunlight directly into DC electricity

10 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Brief Survey of Solar Electric Power Inverter –Converts DC electricity into AC electricity –Most home appliances require AC power Battery –Provide energy storage for use when solar panels cannot receive sunlight –Also supplement panels to smooth power level –Most are Lead-acid (30% sulfuric acid) –Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) type recommended – requires no maintenance and cannot leak

11 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Brief Survey of Solar Electric Power Charge Controller –Used in any solar power system that includes batteries –Blocks reverse current (solar panels draining batteries) and prevents battery overcharge –May also prevent battery overdischarge, protect from electrical overload, and display battery status and flow of power

12 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Brief Survey of Solar Electric Power Power Outlets and Wiring –Proper gauge wiring essential to avoid poor performance of appliances and possible fire risks –Power outlets sometimes include circuit protection Frame/Structure –Hold solar panels in place; roof or pole mounts; some pole mounts track sun

13 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Overview of Mars Testbed Solar Recharge Station Some in-house JSC experience with solar power systems –Environmental Office (COD) and Advanced EVA Group built a solar recharge station as part of a Mars testbed activity –Used commercially available components from Solarcraft (Stafford, TX) –Purpose was to demonstrate how state-of-the- art technology can improve life on earth as well as explore space

14 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Overview of Mars Testbed Solar Recharge Station

15 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Overview of Mars Testbed Solar Recharge Station Reads like a prelude to this project HSC will seek to tap into their expertise and possibly their relationship with Solarcraft Will also seek to coordinate with MOD and Engineering Directorate organizations involved with solar power

16 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Solar Powered Air Conditioning System Two main options exist: –Daylight-only system (no batteries) Simpler, significantly less expensive Offers no cooling between sunset and dawn –Continuously operating system (requires batteries) Provides constant temperature More expensive and complex –Presentation will explore both options, but will not choose between them

17 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Solar Powered Air Conditioning System Daylight-only Configuration

18 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Solar Powered Air Conditioning System Continuous Operation Configuration

19 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Subsystem Data In order to conduct a preliminary sizing, data was compiled on commercially available solar power subsystems and air conditioning units –Voltage, wattage, amperage, BTU cooling capacity, price, vendor, etc.

20 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Preliminary System Sizing Complete solar-powered air conditioning system sized based on current vendor prices Should not be construed as an exact specification of what the system will look like or cost –Prices, component availability subject to change –Chapter may decide to construct items in- house rather than use commercial equipment

21 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Preliminary System Sizing Should be viewed as a ballpark estimate Both options (daytime vs. continuous) sized For simplicity, continuous system assumes: –12 hours charge time; 10 hours discharge time Overcast conditions not modeled in this analysis

22 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Preliminary System Sizing Both options assume cooling for a 300 to 350 square foot area, which includes a kitchen Rule of thumb suggests 8,000 BTU air conditioner for this square footage, with additional 4,000 BTU to account for kitchen heat Selected 1140 W Kenmore 12,300 BTU Multi-Room Air Conditioner

23 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Preliminary System Sizing – Option 1 (Daytime-only) Photovoltaic Panel –SAPC-165 multicrystalline module –156 W per module, $612 –Total of seven required, for cost of $4284 Panel Mounting –UTRF64 Passive Tracking Mount –Tracks sun passively (no electric power) –Holds all seven SAPC-165, costs $989

24 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Preliminary System Sizing – Option 1 (Daytime-only) Inverter –Sized based on power generated –Using Powerstar 1300 inverter, but requires DC Converter Powerstar operates at 12 V, photovoltaic panels operate at 24 V Powerstar costs $540, converter costs $285 for total of $825.00

25 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Preliminary System Sizing – Option 1 (Daytime-only) Wiring and Receptacle –Length will vary with each house; impossible to specify in advance –Assuming generic value of $200 Total cost for Option 1: $6,698 One unresolved concern: uneven power supply levels may damage air conditioner Chapter will need to resolve concern

26 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Preliminary System Sizing – Option 2 (Continuous Operation) Batteries –AGM batteries chosen - 12V Concorde PVX- 2120L offers the best value (2520 W-hrs) –Six batteries required to meet power goal –Cost $304.95 each, for a total of $1,829.70 Photovoltaic Panels –15 SAPC-165 providing 2400W at $5,999.85 Inverters –Two Powerstar 1300 Inverters at $1,080

27 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Preliminary System Sizing – Option 2 (Continuous Operation) Charge Controller –Trace C35: three units used – one for every two batteries –Total cost: $337.05 Tracking Mounts –Two UTRF64 tracking mounts used at cost of $1,978 –Total cost for Option 2: $11,819.64

28 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Preliminary System Sizing – Difference in price visually shows why Option 1 remains a preferred choice –$6,698 vs. $11,819.64 Limitations in Option 1 must be solved before it can be considered valid, however

29 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Fundraising Chapter cannot pay for this project from dues, shirt sales, and dinners Will seek to partner with JSC, contractors, and solar power companies in hopes of equipment donations Will pursue grants and contracts from foundations, government agencies, businesses, nonprofits, etc.

30 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Fundraising Need chapter members to join Finance Zone to help Marlo in this area Need new members from business directorates within JSC and contractors, especially B, H, and L mail codes

31 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Engineering Roadmap This paper is only a first step, not a complete analysis Need for additional studies - engineering work continues –Deepen understanding of solar power systems –Resolve outstanding technical issues –Generate Finalized specifications Safety reviews Implementation procedures

32 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Engineering Roadmap Need for electrical engineers in the chapter to step up and get involved New members especially needed from DF7, DT4, EC, EP, and JA13 Room for other chapter members – engineers and non-engineers to contribute

33 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Engineering Roadmap Paper studies likely to continue through fall and into early spring Build hardware experience prior to assembling air conditioner units –Conduct series of smaller, less expensive solar projects (e.g. solar fans, other low wattage devices) –Side benefit: many of these may have outreach uses Goal: first operational unit completed in time for summer 2004

34 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Candidate Selection No mechanism in place yet to select recipients – must be accomplished prior to first delivery Churches, United Way, etc. work routinely with the types of elderly we wish to serve Coordinating with such organizations will help us to identify responsible elderly with genuine need

35 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Conclusion We cant help everyone suffering in Houston We will make a difference We will pioneer a roadmap other organizations can follow Enhance image of NASA, NSBE, contractors, partners Gain sense of satisfaction – we will have used our skills to change the lives of people

36 August, 2003 Chapter Technology Seminar NSBE – Houston Space Chapter Questions?


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