Sample Environmental Project Proposals

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Design/Build Small Hydroelectric Turbine—Energy Reclamation

Overview

We have been manufacturing small hydroelectric reaction type turbines for over 10 years. In this project, you will utilize existing hydraulic designs and through miniaturization apply these designs to energy reclamation opportunities that exist in small water companies around the US. In many cases, such water companies waste excess pressure to downstream systems with pressure reducing valves. Currently, the only technology available to reclaim this energy is PAT (pumps as turbines) technology. A true turbine design, which can accommodate varying head pressures and flow through the day and night, will improve energy production in a given application by a minimum of 50%. The PAT technology does not yield the same effect and for this reason does not have widespread application.

Turbine technology can offset many tons of carbon emissions across the country annually. In general, this type of small hydroelectric turbine is considered to have no negative environmental impact because it goes into existing facilities. Additionally, the economics of even small projects are excellent due to this utilization of existing civil works and pipelines. Another key economic factor is the streamlining of the federal licensing process, which allows for a closed conduit exemption instead of a full federal license.

Goals

It is the goal of this project to design, build and install a miniature reaction Francis turbine in a water company in southern Vermont, to be tested and commissioned by February 2008.

The plan is to use the CAD/CAM and rapid prototyping facilities of the engineering labs to reduce costs and production time on these small turbines.

Deliverables

Required Facilities

Students will be given the opportunity to visit our facility and participate in the device installation at the southern VT water company in February 2008.

Knowledge Areas Needed for Project

Proprietary Information and Confidentiality Requirements

Full-Scale Digester at Dairy Farm

Overview

Continuing a project pursued by ENGS 190 groups in three prior years, students will refine the design and evaluation of an anaerobic digester for conversion of cow manure to methane at a dairy farm. Prototype testing for either the entire process or a portion thereof should be considered, but is not required. The overall objective of the project is to see if investment in a full-scale digester can be justified.

Qualifications: General aptitude and dedication are likely to go a long way in this project. Willingness to work with cow manure required. It would be helpful if at least some group members have familiarity with technical aspects of chemical process design and analysis.

Deliverables

Specific objectives include:

  1. Critical review of the analysis and conclusions of prior groups.
  2. Consideration of the extent of prototype testing appropriate and carrying out such testing.
  3. Identifying key risk factors and ways to ameliorate them.
  4. Identifying key cost factors and ways to ameliorate them.
  5. Identifying potential sponsors for a full-scale project, and a proposal to such a sponsor if appropriate.

Required Facilities

Ability to get to the dairy farm (about 20 minutes away) as needed also likely required.

Knowledge Areas Needed for Project

Proprietary Information and Confidentiality Requirements

None

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