Sixteen undergraduate students at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) may now be Harvard’s resident experts on geothermal energy.For their capstone project in the course ES 96: “Engineering Design Seminar,” the students conducted an analysis of the geothermal heating and cooling system that serves Radcliffe’s Byerly Hall.Not only did the project provide new insights and tools for the expansion and maintenance of the system in years to come, it also taught the students practical lessons in engineering.“Every year we try to bring a new real-world problem for the class to explore,” says Woodward Yang, one of four instructors who taught ES 96 this spring. “This year’s class did a terrific job of taking this project and making a real engineering contribution that will be useful for Harvard and for other professionals.”Their task, suggested by Barbara J. Grosz, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences at SEAS, was to determine whether the geothermal wells in Radcliffe Yard could also supply energy to nearby Fay House without overwhelming the system.Geothermal energy is the natural heat that is stored deep underground. Read about geothermal energy at Harvard.Through research, calculations, experimentation, and computer modeling, the students found that, indeed, the wells can, and with only minor modifications.The finding came as a relief to John Horst, director of operations at Radcliffe.Horst is leading a $13 million renovation of Fay House, which will involve updating all mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and life-safety systems, improving accessibility, replacing windows, and reconfiguring some internal spaces. He wants to replace the conventional heating and cooling systems, which rely on fossil fuels, with an energy-efficient geothermal system, but without having to drill new wells.The students confirmed an earlier finding by engineering consulting firm Haley & Aldrich—that the Byerly Hall wells could handle the additional load—but took the investigation several steps further, creating analytical tools that may improve performance and efficiency in the long term.First, they developed a model of energy requirements in Fay House using Simulink and MATLAB, taking into account variable factors such as occupancy, outside temperature, and cloud cover. Another model simulated the performance of the heat pumps, the devices that would transfer heat between the geothermal wells and the building.This question of above-ground supply and demand, though, was just the beginning. The students also needed to know how much capacity each well has to supply or accept heat. That depends on conduction and advection within the wells—both of which depend, in turn, on the geology of the argillite 1,500 feet below Radcliffe Yard.The students consulted geologists and learned how fissures in the rock can let groundwater seep into the well, affecting its efficiency. Soon, they had created another model in COMSOL to quantify heat transfer over a cross section of one well.To verify that the model was reliable, the students then conducted a stress test on an actual well. Another experiment involved adding a dye to the system and measuring its concentration to quantify advection over short and long periods of time.As a result, they found that if three heat pumps are added to the system, the five existing wells that service Byerly Hall can also cover Fay House.The students also recommended that for optimal efficiency, the wells should run simultaneously for the 15-hour day (rather than in shifts) and that the building’s thermostats should be raised gradually over the course of each morning.“It’s terrific,” says Horst. “I think they did a great job; I’m really impressed by how well they got into the issues.”He plans to request funding for a work-study student to monitor the system using the new models, including one that can use meteorological forecasts to predict the system’s performance and efficiency ahead of time, potentially averting problems.“That forecasting is really quite stunning,” says Yang, Gordon McKay Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “You can tell, if there’s going to be a cold snap, are you going to freeze your wells?”Horst hopes the U.S. Department of Energy will take an interest.“I would love to do some follow-up studies on this,” he added.“This class was a completely new experience for me in many ways,” says Erfan Soliman ’12. “I don’t think I have ever taken a class that pulled together so many different aspects of my engineering education so far, and put them to use in the context of a real problem.”That was exactly the goal, says instructor Kevin Kit Parker, the Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Applied Science and associate professor of biomedical engineering. Students taking this course in the spring of their junior year have the opportunity to test their skills and identify their weaknesses; then, they have one more year to close the gap.“This class is not really a class,” Parker says. “It’s a twice-weekly meeting of a new consultant group. When we think of a class and instruction, one typically considers that the path is charted on Day 1 and the right answers are known. This is a different experience.”The course was co-taught—or advised, one might say—in two sections, by visiting lecturer Barry Griffin ’71, Yang, Parker, and Robert D. Howe, the Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Engineering.Nico Hawley-Weld ’12 said that by the second half of term, he was spending 20 to 30 hours a week on the project. The instructors provided what they describe as “coaching” support, but the students largely took it upon themselves to meet with engineers, scientists, and local officials.“They pushed us pretty hard, but we were the ones who decided this project was worth our time,” Hawley-Weld says. “I went from just showing up in class to thinking that it was the most important thing in the world.”That dedication was evident at the students’ final presentation on May 3.“One of the geothermal experts who came to our presentation said that there had never been 20 people in a room who knew so much about open-loop geothermal wells,” says Hawley-Weld.Projects relating to energy efficiency and “green” thinking are common in ES 96. Another team of students in the course this semester designed new tools for local organic farms.“I am proud of the way the class performed,” says Parker. “We were tough on them. They realized that it is not personal, it’s business, and that the primary deliverable that we are driving towards is a cadre of engineering students who know how to step into the gap of the unknown and start to fill it.”
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“We will get better and if we apply ourselves in our normal fashion I see our 20th league title as nothing but the start of another decade of success. Whether I will be here to oversee another decade of success remains to be seen, but I certainly don’t have any plans at the moment to walk away from what I believe will be something special and worth being around to see. “It’s always difficult in football to be absolutely sure of the future because the game has a habit of tripping you up. But I don’t live in a fantasy world and believe we have every reason to feel confident about the future of Manchester United.” Meanwhile, Robin van Persie intends to snub Manchester United’s number nine shirt and stick with 20 – to save fans having to shell out on another kit. When Van Persie arrived from Arsenal, the number nine shirt was still worn by Dimitar Berbatov, who did not leave for Fulham until the end of August. Instead, the Dutchman inherited the 20 shirt worn by Brazilian defender Fabio prior to his loan move to QPR. Ferguson has offered Van Persie the chance to switch numbers next season. However, the favourite to claim the Premier League Golden Boot prize for the second straight campaign intends to stick with what he has. “I think I’ll keep it,” Van Persie told United Review. “I have the option to take number nine but I don’t think I will do that. I’ll stick with what is right and what feels good. Also, I don’t want to be harsh on the fans who have got number 20 on their kit. I don’t want them to have to buy a new shirt. “It’s been a good number for me and now I can at least celebrate the 20th trophy for another year. I’ll stick with it.” Sir Alex Ferguson insists he is going nowhere – on the day stories have emerged about his physical condition. Press Association Manchester United have confirmed their manager is booked in for hip surgery when he returns from the club’s pre-season tour at the end of July. Although United have not revealed the exact nature of the problem, the timings seem odd as, presumably, Ferguson could have the operation now, when it would not impact on the season. That has led to suggestions it might be a cover story for Ferguson’s retirement. However, in his programme notes ahead of the encounter with Chelsea, Ferguson underlined his desire to carry on. “This team of champions is not going away – we are here for the long ride,” Ferguson told United Review.
Crowd ’50, Incorporated last Friday turned over an auditorium, valued at US$20,000 to the Marvi Sonii Elementary and Junior High School authorities in Clara Town, Monrovia. At the ceremony, Crowd ‘50’s incoming president Natty B. Davies, chairman of the project committee, encouraged the school to use the edifice for its intended purpose. “We began this project in 2013, but we were interrupted by the Ebola Virus Disease,” he told the gathering of students, school officials, representatives from the Ministry of Education and the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) Superintendent’s office. “Today we are happy to turn over this auditorium so that you, particularly the students, can have somewhere to have a better educational experience,” Mr. Davies said. He told the students to end what they have started and don’t allow any distractions into their educational pursuits “You can continue to enjoy your life,” Mr. Davies told them, “after you have acquired your education like those of us who decided to build this auditorium for you.” The program was mixed with thanksgiving and celebration as Chairman Davies and the rest of the team, including Boakai Sirleaf, took the floor to show the children that even at age 50 and over, they could still take to the floor as much as they can. Crowd ‘50’s outgoing President Samuel W. Thompson re-echoed the message, urging the students to complete what they have started and make better use of the auditorium. He reminded the students that while in times past the location of the auditorium was a football field, “It is now an auditorium and you should be determined to use it to your advantage.”He commended several individuals, including Vice President Joseph Boakai, Director General (GSA) Madam Mary Broh, Mr. Emmanuel Shaw, Sethi Brothers, Bridgeway Incorporated, among individuals and companies that made generous donations to complete the project. MCSS Superintendent Adolphus Jacobs commended Crowd ’50 and noted that he was not surprised at the project to improve education in the community. Jacobs said, “Today there are two talking groups, but Crowd ’50 is making a difference for its multi-purpose gift to the school.” “We want a safe school year and I urge you to follow the protocols laid down to ensure that you are well,” he added. Representing the Minister of Education, Mrs. Etmonia David Tarpeh, Senior Policy Advisor, Albert B. Coleman, expressed the ministry’s appreciation to Crowd ’50, and called on other groups to lend a helping hand to improve education in the country. “We must mobilize to help our students,” Mr. Coleman appealed, “and you must use this hall to enhance your learning experience.” He told the students to use what has been offered so that tomorrow, they can equally give back to their community. The principal, Mrs. Oretha Cole-Bureh, expressed the school’s appreciation to Crowd ’50, and assured them that the auditorium would go a long way to give students another experience in their educational life.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)