Sustainable Energy Club to use sun to power projects
Fermilab Sustainable Energy Club members Peter Mouche (left), Erik Ramberg and Brian Chase test the output on the solar panels they received on May 23. The Fermilab Sustainable Energy Club will use the solar panels for projects throughout the laboratory. Photo courtesy of Wendy Mouche.
The Fermilab Sustainable Energy Club wants to harness the power of the sun to run some eco-friendly and educational projects throughout the laboratory.
"By creating projects with solar panels, the Fermilab Sustainable Energy Club hopes to engage Fermilab staff to think about solar energy," said Erik Ramberg, member of the FSEC.
A group of environmentally conscious employees began the club in late March to educate Fermilab employees and the community about how to use sustainable and alternative energy sources. The club recently received 50 55-watt solar panels from government surplus to use in projects in and around the laboratory.
They also received two solar trackers, devices designed to reposition solar panels to track the sun. Another panel, which uses high-efficiency solar cells and concentrated mirrors to maximize power generated from the sun, arrived in June from a private company.
Club members will use one or two solar panels and a tracker for a demonstration during the Nature's Power Lab Science Adventure Camp July 27-31at the Lederman Science Educational Center. The solar panels will power a high-intensity LED light display and a fan to demonstrate the sun's power.
On May 23, members of the FSEC tested the panels at areas around the laboratory. Although there were clouds, the solar panels worked, Ramberg said. When the sun did come out for a short time, the panels were measured putting out 50 watts each, enough to run a laptop or charge an electric bike battery. Several panels together will be used for an electric bike charging station.
Another proposed project is to use the solar panels to power an ultrasonic algae eliminator that would reduce the amount of chemicals in cooling ponds onsite. Brian Chase, president of the FSEC, said the ultrasonic algae eliminator was previously tested in a cooling pond with good results. Solar power could make this possible in remote areas that do not have electric power available.
"Two kilowatts won't solve the world's energy problem," Ramberg said. "But, getting Fermilab staff to think about solar energy might help."
-- Tia Jones