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Students take solar energy on the road


Mobile Solar Energy Lab Senior Capstone Team

Mobile. Safe. Educational. Six ONU seniors plan to incorporate these elements into a new solar energy lab that they are designing and building with a $10,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation. 

“In addition to renewable energy, the lab will demonstrate a number of fundamental engineering principles, including thermodynamics, fluid flow and efficiency,” said Dr. David Sawyers, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

ONU professors teaching thermodynamics and renewable energy will use the lab in their classes, and the lab will travel to area high schools for STEM outreach programs.

“The biggest challenge the students face is designing a system that is both educational and safe,” added Sawyers. “The final product will include solar collectors to produce hot water and will use solar photovoltaic panels to provide electricity to power the pump and instruments.”

Sawyers wrote the proposal and obtained the grant from Dominion Foundation, the charitable arm of Dominion Resources, Dominion East Ohio’s parent company. He is serving as co-advisor of the senior capstone project along with Dr. Srinivasa Vemuru, professor of electrical and computer engineering.