June 1, 2011
School of Engineering, Coimbatore
“Demand for power increases day-by-day while at the same time, carbon emissions reduction is becoming a major priority,” stated Kiran Krishnan Kutty and Soumya Swaminath.
These third-year B.Tech. students from the Department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering in Coimbatore, emphasized further, “Resources already available with us should be used optimally so that fossil fuels are not depleted, even as we search for alternate sources of energy.”
The duo was selected for the final round of the Go Green in the City contest which will be conducted in Paris during June 23-24, 2011. Theirs was one of 25 teams that was short-listed for the international challenge from over 100 teams worldwide.
A case challenge for institution students to propose clever energy management solutions, Go Green in the City is conducted by the French global company Schneider Electric.
The two Amrita students proposed a novel method in which charge from car batteries could be fed into the main grid, to meet peak-time energy demand. They developed these ideas with the guidance of their teacher, Mr Sarath S Nair, Assistant Professor, EEE Department.
“We can usually find a large number of cars parked in supermarket lots,” Kiran and Soumya enthusiastically explained. “Intelligent modules that extract energy from car batteries can be installed. These modules can continuously monitor the level of charge, cutting off the car from the system, if charge fell below the critical level of 25%-30%.”
Titled Localized Energy from Automobiles Parked or LEAP Technology the idea, if implemented, could help one shopping mall cut down on carbon emissions by at least 143 tonnes of CO2 annually.
The students arrived at these projections with initial tests conducted at Joby’s in Palakkad, a mid-sized mall located in North Kerala.
“When LEAP was operated with 100 vehicles, for 12 hours a day and 365 days a year, at a power factor of 0.9, taking the efficiency of the power electronic circuits to be 40%, the number of units of power obtained was 49,920 KWh,” the innovators stated.
“These extra units could help a supermarket save an estimated Rs. 4,76,240 in electricity bills,” they noted.
“The customers suffer no loss, as the battery is recharged when the car runs. The concept can be implemented with only minor modifications in existing infrastructure. There is no need to re-wire or replace the installed electrical systems; small variations in the configuration of UPS and other such systems will suffice.”
“Car owners should not experience any inconvenience as LEAP can be fully automated. A user friendly interface can guide them, making their contribution transparent to them.”
The students also added their ideas for how supermarkets could take the lead in implementing this technology by rewarding customers for their contributions. After all supermarkets stood to gain substantially, through massive savings in electricity bills.
Interestingly, the global competition was only open to teams of two engineering or management students, of whom at least one had to be a woman. “Schneider Electric is looking to integrate women’s views and perspectives into shaping tomorrow’s green initiatives,” read the competition rules.