The purpose of this project is to provide students with an opportunity to perform an engineering analysis of a novel product to assess its viability in the context of thermodynamics. In the course of the semester students will be introduced gradually to more complex concepts in the field and this project will be a chance to apply them in practice.
Overall, this activity is meant to provide context to students of how principles of thermodynamics can be utilized in their future work as engineers, project planners and decision makers to assess sustainability.
Students will be asked to self-organize in teams of four / five people. Their first task will be to identify a viable topic, based on provided examples, using any sources of information available to them. Crowd- funding platforms constitute good sources. In order to be considered, the identified product / technology has to be based on heat and mass transfer phenomena at its core. Some examples:
- Heat pump (example: https://www.zerobreeze.com/ – portable air conditioner)
- Vacuum dryer (example: https://morus.com/)
- Atmospheric water generators (https://fontus.at/ – self-filling water bottle, https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/waterseer#/ – stationary water generator)
- Thermoelectric heat exchanger (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/juno-like-a-microwave- for-cooling#/ – home drink chiller)
- Water desalinator (https://www.jamesdysonaward.org/en-SG/2021/project/waterpod/)
- Heat exchanger / storage (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1376341462/hoterway-hot- shower-from-the-first-second?ref=discovery_category)
- Evaporative cooler (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/19381/mistbox-energy-saving-device- proven-to-cut-ac-bill?ref=discovery_category)
After identifying a topic, students will be asked to write a short summary (1-2 pages) describing the product and which thermodynamic phenomena can be identified in its operation. The teacher will work with the students to ensure they are able to identify a viable topic for the project.
Student teams will be asked to produce a report during the semester, to be graded at the end of the course. The aforementioned summary can be incorporated in to the report. It should contain the following key-points:
- Present the product the claims made about it by manufacturer / inventor
- Present your understanding of the problem that the product is trying to solve
- Describe which thermodynamic phenomena are used in its operation. Can you present how laws of thermodynamics can be incorporated in the analysis?
- Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the product from the perspective of thermodynamics, including but not limited to:
- Heat and mass transfer – depending on the product, what are the quantities of energy and/or mass that have to be transported to fulfill its described purpose? Provide your estimates and list of assumption you had to make to obtain them.
- Energy consumption – what are your estimates of power requirements of the device? What assumptions did you have to make and what is your thought process behind them? Do they match the manufacturer claims?
- Energy efficiency – does the technology present an increase or decrease of efficiency when compared to other existing ones?
- Do you see a way to improve the proposed design, based on analyzing the thermodynamic aspect of the device?
- Based on the above, discuss the sustainability aspect:
- Does the product present a sustainable solution to the problem it is trying to solve?
- What aspects of the product are the biggest challenges to its sustainability? Does the product successfully overcome them?
- In your opinion, is material / energy usage a good use of resources? If not, explain if there exist more viable alternatives, or if the problem itself is not worth solving
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