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BYU Engineering and Systems Design Lab

Alternative Energy

March 2, 2016 - Building a Solar Matrix

We have researched several cheap solutions to building solar cells. Instead of buying cells with the desired dimensions, we piece together as many 5X5 cells that are needed for our specific application. To accomplish this we laser cut two layers of poster board. One layer to accommodate the solder and connecting conductor material and another layer to determine the layout of the cells. We developed a CAD model of the desired patterns and then laser cut out the poster board. The top layer ensures that the cells are placed in an organized and consistent matrix pattern. The bottom layer provides a consistent placement for conductive connectors fastened with solder. Once the two layers are put together the cells are placed in their corresponding positions, soldered together, and laminated.


February 16, 2016 - Logging Solar Measurements

When we combine the scientific process with solar panels, there must be a way to log measurements. This was one problem we faced for a while, but we overcame it with microcontrollers. Using an Arduino Duemilanove and a few electrical components, we are now able to take data of panel voltage and current over a period of time - not just at a single instant. We've modified this device to be able to calculate the max power point (MPP) of the solar panel, and at which brightness of light it will output the most power.

September 18, 2015 - The Promise of Perovskite

This graphic includes one of the new up-and-coming, and extremely promising, solar cell technologies. Recent years of research have unveiled the efficacy of perovskite materials in the production of solar cells. The data shown was taken from NREL solar cell efficiency tables. From 2010 to 2015 the efficiencies of perovskite cells have surpassed other prominent solar technologies and researchers suggest that it will only continue to grow over the next coming years. This is one of the main reasons why the Alternative Energy BESD group has chosen to focus research efforts into these promising perovskite materials.



May 5, 2015 - UAV Solar Applications

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are being used more and more frequently from military surveillance missions, to search and rescue operations, to online shipping options. As versatile as UAVs are they often lack the energy capacity for extensive flight time. Current research done by NASA has shown that near-indefinite flight may be achieved by the application of solar cells, limited solely by system reliability. These aircraft are currently limited by their weight required due to the lower power output of solar cells when compared to gasoline or other liquid-fueled craft. The BESD lab is currently researching the application of perovskite to determine effects on aircraft endurance and robustness. Longer endurance and larger payload capacities would allow for such applications as delivering medical supplies to remote locations, conducting near-indefinite search and rescue missions, and reduction in airline prices.



April 10, 2015 - Why Solar Energy?

This graph compares the potential energy output of different alternative energy resources. Solar energy has a lot of potential energy as compared to other alternative energies. The problem is that we haven't taken full advantage of the resource. If we were to better tap into solar energy we would be able to generate clean, renewable, and consistent energy in order to fill the upcoming energy gap in the world.


Source: Derek Abbot, Fellow, IEEE, "Keeping the Energy Debate Clean: How Do We Supply the World's Energy Needs?" Proceedings of the IEEE 98, no. 1 (January 2010).

March 15, 2015

Mission Statement

To develop alternative energy resources to support rapid advancements in technology solutions and aid in the betterment of mankind.

General Overview

As energy consumption around the world rises, projections suggest that current energy generation capabilities will not be sufficient enough to meet demand. The world will need alternative sources of energy in order to meet demand on both large and small scales. It is our interest to research various new applications of power systems that will help alleviate these problems. The various types of systems that we are researching consist of solar energy, tidal energy, artificial tornados using waste heat from power plants, algae fuels, and bio gases. Utilizing these new types of energy sources in new ways will provide greater capabilities in integrated systems that can enhance our ability to improve the quality of life.

Active Research

We are currently looking into the viability of third generation solar cells in commercial, residential, and portable uses. Our objective is to fill the increasing energy gap by developing various applications of solar cells, namely wearables and easily-installed solar sheets on buildings. We are currently taking special interest in perovskite solar cells with their higher ductility, lower production costs, and higher efficiency. In addition to improving American lives with our research, we plan to provide new energy solutions for developing countries which will improve education, promote economic growth, provide health benefits, and increase overall quality of life.