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Project Examples

Solar Power for a Composting System on South Campus at UMass Lowell

Course: 22.527 Solar Systems Engineering
Semester: Spring 2008
Instructor: John Duffy
Partner: University of Massachusetts Lowell

There is a composting area located on an isolated location near South Campus at UML. Waste from the cafeterias on campus is composted there: wastes such as coffee and tea are converted into organic manure or fertilizer using an aerobic process. This process requires the use of two air sparging pumps which are currently powered by gasoline because the location is too far from the grid to connect this load to it: it would be too expensive. Therefore, a two-student group designed a photovoltaic system that would supply enough power to this load: they visited the side and performed a thorough shading analysis, they determined the optimal tilt angle for the PV panels, determined the number and type of panels and batteries needed, determined the charge controller and inverter needed, and they tested solar panels that were made available to them at the Solar lab. In addition to their theoretical calculations, they used other computer software to confirm their results. The report was delivered to the company that provides this service to the campus. This project also became an MS graduate project for a more complete solar system for the composting operation.