Princeton’s shipping container disaster relief wind and solar power generators.
The prototype system was a winner of an EPA-sponsored sustainable design competition. The entry in the competition was for a “rapidly deployable renewable energy system”. Its primary role to be used in disaster hit areas which lose infrastructure and power.
Image by Frank Wojciechowski, courtesy of Princeton University
The solar and wind turbine is 40 foot tall and capable of providing 10kW of wind and solar power. Within the container also capable of storing the batteries and mechanical systems required to make the unit functional. There is a hope the unit will actually take off and replace diesel-powered generators in relief camps in disaster zones. Which can often be hazardous due to air pollution, ground pollution and the issue of a constant supply of fuel.
For the contest the shipping container and its equipment were taken on a flatbed truck from Princeton to Washington DC. The unit was erected and tested with the first day seeing no wind but a sunny day allowing good solar energy. While on the second day it was windy and rainy it put its wind turbine into action and was capable of providing power on both days. A grant of $90,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency, will see the project being developed further and the team hope to take the finished model on a tour of Africa.
The contest has highlighted the need for new solutions and developments and seen students from 165 academic institutions submit proposals to the competition. 15 of those were given awards for pursuing sustainable design solutions to issues ranging from erosion control to a seeking out a biodegradable alternative to plastics.
For me I support a lot of these ideas but things do come back to some basic issues, a lot of disaster areas and problems are preventable. Haiti seems to be a big favourite in U.S. circles to mention for aid yet has anyone even started looking at common sense things like reforestation? Land can protect itself but it needs people to stop destroying it.
Its a system that is often overlooked but is heavily used by certain industries such as the military. The fact is the whole unit can be flat packed and then as you can see in the picture the base and ceiling make up the transportation box with everything inside before being raised. Then the pillars form up on the edges before the slot walls go in. I worked on this style of construction for some time as well as the traditional “plywood” construction of modular structures such as classrooms. It was the shipping container system though that revolutionised the industry and I just wanted to show that this produced in a factory can give a very high finish and low cost installation. For me in the Philippines I know of a mountain that is for sale very cheap and could easily see these being sold down the side of it as low cost housing. Adding to the mountain top a large water gathering system as well as wind turbine and solar panels. Maybe a project for the future but when looking at shipping containers and modular housing remember that the modular frames of containers are built round the same size so mixing with shipping containers is possible for example using a framed unit in the photo without its sides welded to two 20ft containers either side with their sides cut out would give a room 24ft wide by 20ft long without too much effort.
Ted Baer has created a series of small windmills designed for third world use over a period of three decades. This first in the series has evolved in simplicity and power. The aluminium vanes are constructed from a building flashing roll utilizing the pre-existing bend of the roll in construction. Two 16 " sections are rivet together to make one vane. The vanes clip on the spokes of the bicycle wheel using a "bent nail" and a bend in the vane. Detailed pictures will be provided shortly. The generator is a surplus permanent magnet motor and the endless belting is purchased to length from online sources.
Output is a respectable 2 amps at 12 mph providing a cost effective alternative to a solar photovoltaic panels (if wind is available). The total cost of the windmill is less than $80 purchasing most items new (off-the-shelf). www.instructables.com
Now the interesting thing here is that not only are there enough details on how to build the wind turbine but also its simple enough for most people to follow. The parts list also fits into use for developing nations and not only off grid living for shipping container homes and buildings. I am tempted to build one here but need to do a wind test to see if I have enough airflow to justify the construction (as I will need to place it on my water tower for it to work). At the same time this wind turbine is a good starting point for many people due to its low cost (free if you can salvage bits from places) to assess its viability for bigger projects and also to get a better understanding of how wind turbines work. I could imagine a similar turbine setup being used for pumping water from wells for example which for most in the Western world isn’t an issue but here in the Philippines I still see people wandering along the road to collect water every day the further you get up the mountain.
A bit of a monster shipping container house this construction project is rapidly coming to completion in Canada. Offering off grid living due to solar heating,solar/wind electric and homestead farming. The owners of the home are Bill and Rosanne Glennon, constructing a huge 5000sqft retirement home.
Sea-Can Home is using 30 recycled containers as well as only two stories visually above the plains making this a very low impact large home in Canada.
Large central garage surrounding by three high shipping container walls.
5 Bedroom home, complete with large sitting room. Once finished no doubt the envy of the neighbours.
Shipping container stacked on its end isn’t a statement of versatility of shipping container architecture but is actually a lift shaft for access to the multiple levels in the building.
The lower level is going to be consealed with the upper levels being insulated and stucco finished making the home blend into its surroundings to almost looking like a normally constructed home.
Insulated roof to R80 will also leave a space for a solar heating system to be adapted for the home. With such a large space available a solar array and wind turbine will also be added for the electrical needs of the property.
I came across this video today covering using a 12v lighting system with Solar power to supply its energy and its broken down to make a basic system easy to understand so wanted to share it. Obviously the rig could just as easily be setup with a wind turbine over solar if need be or even combine the two. The system is fairly easy to understand and in most locations you can no doubt buy the system as a kit.