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Improving Energy Efficiency in College and University Campus

As the college or university campus is a vast decentralized system, it’s as bit difficult to manage the campus conserve energy and energy efficient. But by proper planning and intelligent initiatives, we can make create a sustainable and energy efficient green campus. Energy Efficiency of campus can be improved by implementing following techniques.

Class Rooms and Buildings:

  •  Minimizing the requirement of lights without reducing the quality of light using Architectural Lighting Techniques.
  •  Providing sufficient natural ventilation there by reducing the necessity of additional lights.
  • Install occupancy sensors to shut off lights when rooms are not in use.
  •  Installing Building Automation Systems (BAS) for campus buildings if there is possibility for lesser pay back periods for that campus.
  •  Pre-Cooling Air Conditioners in conjunction with existing Air conditioners to reduce energy consumption of Air conditioners and saves energy around 60% to 90% when compared to existing system.
  •  Cards used by students or faculty permit access to specific authorized areas. When integrated with the BAS, cards can also be used to trigger lighting and climate control. This is especially useful to save energy in areas that have unpredictable occupancy periods.

Laboratories and Administrative offices:

  •  We can use Smart power strips to Auto power cut off laboratory equipment they are left unused over a period of time.
  •  Installing Pc power saver software to manage the power saving options of computers which can turn off the monitors and puts them in to low power consumption when they are not in use of shorter time. It can reduce the energy usage by as low as 30%.
  •  Printers are typically left on for extended periods of time but are active only for a small percentage of that time. Turning off printers and photocopiers when you they are idle or not in use. We can use Smart power strips that are available in market to do this task automatically.
  •  There are some Printers with automatic “power down” features can reduce electricity use by over 65 percent.
  •  Preference should be given to use Laptops instead of desktops as they consume trice the power of laptops for the same task.

Hostels and Restaurants:

  •  Periodically recycling possible solid waste like aluminum cans plastic etc. that was generated inside the campus.
  •  Turn off coffee pots and similar appliances like water coolers when they are not in use. A typical coffee pot costs 4 cents per use and another 4 cents per hour to keep the coffee warm.
  •  Composting organic waste inside the campus to generate Methane gas.
  •  Using solar water heaters instead of Gas or Electric geysers
  •  We can use Food Management Software to help us keep track of student consumption, so that we can more accurately forecast the amount of food to prepare. This helps to serve students with the foods they require, while ever reducing the amount of food that gets wasted.
  •  We can convert waste oil that was generated while cooking food in to Bio diesel or bio fuel which in turn can be used to run diesel generators in campus or to cook food by burning.
  •  Induction, convection, and pressure cooking should be adopted for cooking which use less energy than conventional ones.

Overall campus:

  •  Installing capacitors at supply end to improve power factor of whole electrical system of campus.
  •  Using bicycles and replacing conventional diesel buses/vehicles with hybrid or electric buses/vehicles for inter campus transportation.
  •  Periodic energy audits and reports of recommendations.
  •  Usage of bottled water inside the campus should be minimized and use filtered water instead.
  •  Ionators can be used to clean rooms with Zero Chemical Usage, saving money, reducing pollution, and making a safer environment for faculty and students.
  •  We can use solar powered waste disposable units in place of Waste bins.
  •  Creating awareness among students and faculty is important to adopt campus sustainability techniques for continued implementation of energy minimization on long run.

Going to see “Green Hybrid Power Plants” in Future

First, there were hybrid cars, now ‘green’ hybrid power plants are on the way, say university researchers.

Many power plants use traditional fuel to make energy, says Tel Aviv University professor Avi Kribus, from the School of Mechanical Engineering. Others that are more environmentally friendly run on solar thermal power, but they can be costly to construct and operate. The turbines are powered by high pressure and temperatures produced by sunlight, but the cost of the equipment that harnesses the energy is expensive, as it made from valuable metals.

As a hybrid alternative, Professor Kribus has devised a new steam-injection gas turbine method that employs both fuel and steam from solar power, so plants can use green energy for up to half of their power needs.

Prof Kribus, who has worked with graduate student Maya Livshits on the project, says, “We combine a gas turbine, which works on hot air and not steam, and inject the solar-produced steam into the process.

“We still need to burn fuel to heat the air, but we add steam from low-temperature solar energy, approximately 200 degrees centigrade.”

The hybrid method is an efficient way of producing energy and because it operates and lower pressures and temperatures, the solar equipment can be made out of cheaper materials.

Prof Kribus’ work is set to be published in a forthcoming issue of Solar Energy Journal. He acknowledges that the hybrid system might not be totally environmentally friendly, but it is more affordable and practical than traditional methods.

Energy from plants powered by solar energy costs double that of plants using traditional fuel at present, which stops it being widely used.

Professor Kribus hopes that the costs of operating a hybrid plant could be similar to a traditional power plant and kinder to the environment.

The researchers have approached an Indian university to further develop the project and are interested in contacting corporate partners.


Solar Paint


solar paintA new solar power technology promises to power planes, trains and automobiles with paint.

In fact, anything that has exposure to sunlight could be painted for power – fences, walls, rooftops …even smartphones.

The secret is a paint-on, quantum-dot solar cell technology developed by Ted Sargent, a Research Chair in nanotechnology at the University of Toronto.

The paint is loaded with quantum dots that are extremely small measuring only a few nanometres in diameter. A nanometre is a billionth of a metre or about ten thousand times thinner than a human hair.

These tiny dots can convert sunlight into electricity just like conventional solar cells but unlike traditional solar cells, the solar power cost of quantum dots is a lot cheaper.

A square meter of solar paint is about $15 versus $1000 for a comparable solar panel.

The cost of making conventional solar panels is a major deterrent in expanding our use of solar energy. Solar cells are expensive to manufacture because silicon crystals are grown in high heat furnaces, cooled, then cut into thin wafers in sterile environments.

Solar electricity currently accounts for less than 1% of our energy supply yet enough sunshine hits Earth in just one hour to fulfill our worldwide energy needs for an entire year.

The problem is that our technologies remain relatively inefficient in capturing, converting, and storing all this free sunshine.

quantum dotsBut Sargent believes that the low cost of solar paint will accelerate the use of solar energy.

Covering 150,000 square kilometers of surfaces with solar paint, in theory, would supply the energy requirements for the entire planet. Yet solar paint only converts 6 percent of the sunshine received into electricity compared to 17 percent for conventional solar cells.

Sargent points out that five years ago solar paint had a 0 percent efficiency rate due to impurities obstructing the flow of electrons and the inability to convert infrared light into electricity.

According to Michael McGehee of Stanford University, a renowned expert in organic solar cells, a power conversion efficiency rate of 6% percent for quantum dots is a very impressive progression. “At 10 per cent you start to have something compelling,” adds Sargent.

With innovations in solar power technology such as solar paint, scientists predict that our use of solar energy will continually increase until it eventually becomes our major source of electricity.