Students Develop Mobile Hybrid Power System for Disaster Relief
UNIVERSITY PARK, Fla., May 19 (UPI) —When disaster strikes — whether it’s a devastating earthquake, a massive flood or a violent volcanic eruption — electricity is one of the most immediate needs, both for local populations and relief providers.
Recently, a team of student researchers at Florida International University designed and built a mobile electricity supply unit that generates and stores power from renewable energy sources. The hybrid power system, which derives electricity from a combination of solar and wind energy, is low-cost and can be quickly and easily assembled and disassembled.
Without electricity, the communication and coordination needed to deliver food, water and medical care to those in need is tremendously difficult. Researchers say the affordable and adaptable power systems can be used to power laptops and lights, as well as devices needed for food prep, storage and medical care.
The system produces 1.5 kilowatt-hours per day. It’s not enough to power the average American household (which uses 30 kwh per day), but researchers say it’s enough to make a big difference in remote areas in emergency situations.
“The capacity to generate this much power can be lifesaving in many situations,” project leader Andre Lima Siuffo, one of the three team members, explained in a press release. “We wanted to find a balance between producing power and maintaining portability.”
The 250-pound power tower takes only a few minutes to set up and break down, and can be easily transported in the bed of a truck. Siuffo and his research partners, Marisol Contreras and Kevin Gregorio, wanted to prove that getting power to people in need didn’t have to be a prohibitively expensive endeavor. While most similar units cost between $5,000 and $10,000, the student team built their prototypes for $1,700 per unit.
The three students, all from the College of Engineers, were assisted by professors Andres Tremante and Sabri Tosunoglu. They hope the prototypes can make it into the field with the help of the private sector.
“We want to bridge the gap between the university and the industry through sustainable development projects,” Tremante said.