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Problem 1.4.1 Renewable Electrical Energy
Generation and Distribution
Introduction
In today’s technology-driven society, consumers
depend on effective and efficient electrical energy
generation and distribution. Electrical energy
generation is accomplished through the conversion of
energy forms by the use of electromagnet induction or
chemical processes. To provide reliable and costeffective electrical energy to consumers, utility
companies use and depend upon multiple methods of
electrical energy generation. Current methods of
electrical energy generation utilize resources such as
fossil fuels, solar thermal energy, biomass, geothermal
energy, nuclear energy, hydroelectric, wind, solar
electric, fuel cells, and batteries.
Consumer demand for reliable, usable, and low cost
electrical energy drives utility company operations and
profitability. Consumers require electrical energy in
varying locations, times, and quantities depending
upon application. Utility company operational
considerations include customer-driven peak and offpeak energy demands and energy production process
capability.
Equipment
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VEX POE kit
2 Fuel cells
Distilled water
2 Solar panels
Multimeter
Solar and fuel cell connector wire
LEDs - 3mm red (represent residential consumers)
LEDs - 3mm amber/yellow (represent industrial consumers)
Solderless breadboard
Two 330 Ω resistors
© 2012 Project Lead The Way, Inc.
Principles Of Engineering Problem 1.4.1 Renewable Electrical Energy Generation and Distribution VEX – Page 1
Procedure
Your team will design and create a renewable electrical energy generating and
distribution system that utilizes wind, solar electric, and fuel cell energy conversion
systems. Successful system design will demonstrate strategic power generation and
distribution to meet the demand of both residential and industrial consumers. System
design effectiveness will be based on the total number of successfully supplied
industrial and residential consumers during a simulated 24 hour electrical energy
demand cycle.
Design Constraints
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Simulated 24 hour electrical energy demand cycle – 1 hour is represented by
15 seconds
24 Hour Electrical Energy Demand Scenario
Operational Time
Simulated
Environmental
Residential
Industrial
Operational
Conditions
Demand
Demand
(Red
LED)
(Amber-Yellow
LED)
Duration
7:00 PM – 6:00 AM 165 seconds
Wind and
Minimal
Minimal
(Lit
LEDs
x
1)
(Lit
LEDs x .5)
(2min 45sec)
darkness
6:00 AM – 4:00 PM 150 seconds
Wind and
Maximum
Minimal
(Lit
LEDs
x
3)
(Lit
LEDs x .5)
(2min 30sec)
sunlight
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM 45 seconds
Wind and
Maximum
Maximum
(Lit
LEDs
x
4.5)
(Lit
LEDs x 2)
sunlight
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Allowable electrical energy generation devices
o (2) Solar cells (teacher-provided)
o (2) Fuel cells (teacher-provided)
o Turbine(s) (student-created)
The turbine (e.g. wind, tidal, or geothermal) operation will be simulated using a
VEX 393 motor. The turbine can be simulated by using any size gear or wheel in
the VEX kit, and turned using your hand. No cranks or further mechanical
advantage should be attained to prevent damage to the motor or other VEX
parts. More speed can be created by transferring motion from a bigger gear
connected to a smaller gear attached to the VEX motor
System dimensions may not exceed 22 in. by 15 in. by 18 in. high.
LEDs must be wired in two individual banks – one representing industrial
demand and the other representing residential demand.
LEDs within the banks must be wired in series and require a 330 Ω resistor.
Preliminary Investigation
1. Research LED specifications, including voltage, current, and resistance
requirements.
Consumer
Group
Residential
Industrial
LED Color
Voltage
Requirement
Current
Requirement
Resistance
Requirement
© 2012 Project Lead The Way, Inc.
Principles Of Engineering Problem 1.4.1 Renewable Electrical Energy Generation and Distribution VEX – Page 2
2. Calculate testing scenario requirements. Test banks must be wired in series and
must include a 330 Ω resistor.
Residential LED Scenario Requirements
Number of LEDs
Voltage Requirement
2
3
4
5
Industrial LED Scenario Requirements
Number of LEDs
Voltage Requirement
2
3
4
5
Current Requirement
Current Requirement
3. Research and test individual power generation devices. Important: Do not do a
short circuit current test on the fuel cell. Refer to the Fuel Cell User Guide.
Device
Voltage Output
Current Output
4. Calculate and test possible power generation device circuit configurations
connected in series, parallel, and series-parallel. Consider all testing scenarios
and device quantity limitations.
Device Configurations
Voltage Output
Current Output
© 2012 Project Lead The Way, Inc.
Principles Of Engineering Problem 1.4.1 Renewable Electrical Energy Generation and Distribution VEX – Page 3
Documentation Deliverables (Written or multimedia format)
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Title Page: Include the title of the project, a picture of the system and team
members, team member names, course title, name of your school, and the date.
Research Summary: Summarize your research, including all information
gathered during preliminary investigation. The research summary should be less
than one page.
Design Brief: Include a description of the problem and all constraints.
Brainstorming Sketches: Include copies or originals of your team’s five
brainstorming sketches.
Final Solution Sketch: Include copies or originals of the final design sketches.
Modification Sketches: Include copies or originals of all modification sketches.
Prototype: Include a description of the final solution, image(s), test data, and
calculations.
Wiring Diagram: Include wiring diagram for power generation and distribution
during each electrical energy demand cycle. Include sources, loads, switches,
and other components as well as voltage, current, and resistance values.
References: Use APA format to list all sources that were used to complete this
activity.
Conclusion
1. Explain the limitations of electrical energy production created exclusively by
renewable energy sources.
2. Explain the relationship between demand, production, and profitability. Explain
how consumer demand influences electrical energy production and distribution.
3. Explain the importance of efficiency related to electrical energy.
© 2012 Project Lead The Way, Inc.
Principles Of Engineering Problem 1.4.1 Renewable Electrical Energy Generation and Distribution VEX – Page 4
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