PEC—2007 Bay Area Science Fair Awards
Congratulations to Alison, Christopher and Zoe!
Each year the Pacific Energy Center Staff looks forward to visiting the San Francisco Bay Area Science Fair to view all the student entries and select a few that represent creative work and whose subject matter relates to energy and energy conservation.
Alison Ong: House Warming: Alternative Insulation
I wanted to test whether commercial insulation (fiberglass) or recycled materials (diapers, clothes) would insulate better. I thought recycled materials would insulate as well as standard insulators because all that can trap heat. I assembled 4 boxes, placed insulation materials into three boxes and no material in the 4th box. I added light bulbs and thermometers, and sealed the boxes. I recorded the temperatures every 15 minutes for 6 hours. I found that my hypothesis was correct. By the time 1 hour and 45 minutes had elapsed, the boxes with the fiberglass, diapers, and cotton clothes had all reached the same inside temperature. This shows that recycled materials can work just as well as standard insulators. Recycling in a creative way can help the environment.
Zoë Dubrow: Ice Expansion Generators: A Powerful New Source of Renewable Energy
The purpose of this project is to determine if the phase transition from water to ice can be harnessed as a renewable energy source in areas of the world that go through a daily freezing and thawing cycle. This will be determined theoretically by using the ice expansion (9%) and pressure (206MPa or 30,000psi) values from references a swell as by building an ice based gravitational potential energy generator. The four sets of experiments in this project were expansion with friction, ice melting rate, ice expansion under pressure, and reproducibility experiments. The hypothesis that the expansion of ice could be used as a new source of renewable energy appears to be realistic. It was calculated that single daily transition from water to ice could generate 1,335 kilowatt-hours per month in a three cubic meter space. It was proven experimentally that expanding ice can force a pin out of a tube over 206 megapascals of pressure. The energy generated from the water to ice transition could be used in about 25% of the world’s land mass. In this project design guidelines were created to determine the optimum tube size to be used for generating ice energy.
Christopher Turney: The Effect of Different Reflective Materials on Solar Cooker Performance
Solar cookers are used throughout the world in underdeveloped countries with hot and sunny climates such as Africa as an alternative to firewood for fuel. With solar cookers so widely used, testing them to see “what is the effect of different reflective materials on solar cooker performance? “Is definitely worthwhile. In the experiment, four solar cookers, each utilizing a different reflective material – mirror tiles, aluminum foil, sheet metal, and black paper, a control that absorbs all light – were constructed. These solar cookers were placed outside in the sun and in each was placed a jar of water, the temperature of which was monitored until the temperature gain significantly decreased or reversed. In comparing the maximum temperature gain of the water in each solar cooker, the mirror’s and aluminum foil’s effectiveness were quite similar, while the sheet metal did not even outperform the black paper control. These results may not change the world, but they can improve the efficiency of most solar cookers, and also show that light, inexpensive aluminum foil works almost as effectively as the more expensive, hard to work with mirror tiles.