LED Technology for Off-Grid Lighting in Africa

Article written by Arne Jacobson

Testing off grid lighting projects

Graduate Students Ranjit Deshmukh and Stephen Kullmann and Professor Arne Jacobson measuring LED lighting performance at SERC. (Photo Credit Kellie Brown)

Battery powered lanterns that use white LED technology are emerging as a potential substitute for kerosene lighting in unelectrified areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Dozens of LED-based off-grid lighting products are now available, with most selling at prices ranging from $2 to $60 per unit.

Over the past two years, SERC has been involved in research related to the quality, performance, economics, and end-uses of LED lights. The effort, dubbed the Lumina Project, is a collaboration headed by Evan Mills of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Arne Jacobson of SERC. The work is funded by Richard C. Blum Center for Developing Economies through a donation from Art Rosenfeld. To date, the research has included laboratory testing of existing LED lighting products, as well as fieldwork in Kenya.

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Gearing Up for the Biomass Gasifier

Article written by Ranjit Deshmukh

Gasifier Start Up

SERC staff gathers for the much-anticipated initial system start-up. (Photo credit SERC).

These are exciting times at SERC as we prepare for the arrival of the biomass gasifier system from India. The gasifier system is an air-fed downdraft gasifier coupled with a gas engine and generator, designed and constructed by Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies in India. The gasifier has a thermal output of 20kWth while the entire system has an electrical output of 11kWe. It will be housed behind our present premises in a new carport structure, which is near completion. We are also diligently working on the instrumentation and fuel drying aspects of the project.

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RNSP Headquarters to Become Sixth UNPEPP Project for SERC-RNSP Partnership

UNPEPP Interns with Ray Cozby

Redwood National and State Parks Chief of Facilities Management Ray Cozby with energy interns Jeffrey Hinton, Lucas Siegfried, and Teresa Persons. (Photo credit SERC).

With funding from the University-National Park Energy Partnership Program (UNPEPP), SERC will again partner with Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) for a summer 2008 UNPEPP project. The UNPEPP 2008 project follows and builds upon the highly successful summer 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2006 SERC-RNSP internships sponsored by UNPEPP. The UNPEPP 2008 project will consist of auditing energy use, making recommendations for energy efficiency improvements, designing a grid-connected photovoltaic system for onsite energy production, and producing an interpretive sign to inform visitors about the work taking place at RNSP’s Headquarters in Crescent City, CA. As with prior UNPEPP projects, the 2008 project will employ two student interns from Humboldt State University. SERC and RNSP will conduct day-to-day project oversight.

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Hydrogen Technology and Education Curriculum

HyTEC teacher training

Local high school teachers participating in a HyTEC training workshop hosted by SERC (Photo Credit SERC)

Project partners Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at UC Berkeley, SERC, and AC Transit Authority were recently awarded an additional $150,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to further develop the Hydrogen Technology and Education Curriculum (HyTEC). As subcontractor on this project, SERC’s involvement to date includes curriculum development, teacher training, pilot testing in the classroom, and the development of hands-on laboratory kits that feature student operated fuel cells and electrolyzers.

HyTEC is a two-week module targeted for high school chemistry and environmental science students that features hands-on laboratory activities, readings and calculations, and issues based role-play activities. We recently completed revisions to the curriculum based on feedback from California classroom pilot tests and teacher workshops. The additional DOE funding will help meet the project’s multi-year goal of national field testing and dissemination of the curriculum to a large, national audience of students and teachers.

HSU Hydrogen Fueling Station

The construction and installation phases of the hydrogen fueling station are complete

Hydrogen fueling station dedication.

SERC Director Peter Lehman cuts the ribbon as Congr. Mike Thompson, HSU President Rollin Richmond, and Project Manager Greg Chapman look on (left to right). (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown).

. Site inspections of the hydrogen piping and electrical system were conducted by a mechanical and electrical engineer with no major issues noted. SERC engineers are now beginning start-up testing of the station. Testing will include hydrogen generator, compressor, and dispenser operational checks, gas purging and pressure testing of the piping system, and safety and instrumentation system verification and operation testing.

Quantum Technologies’s retrofit of the hydrogen-powered Toyota Prius is complete and the vehicle is scheduled for delivery in the next month. Look for information on the fueling station’s grand opening on our homepage, www.schatzlab.org, or HSU’s homepage, www.humboldt.edu.

Welcome New Graduate Research Assistants

SERC is pleased to welcome Michael “Joe” Purdon and Colin Sheppard as graduate research assistants.

Colin during tower raising

Colin Sheppard on the Yurok reservation during the MET tower installation (Photo Credit SERC)

Colin Sheppard (formerly Colin Ritter) is a graduate student in the Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) Department at HSU and the president of RESU (the Renewable Energy Student Union). He is overjoyed to be working for SERC as a research assistant in the assessment of wind and micro-hydro resources on the Yurok Reservation. Colin’s previous involvement with SERC includes conducting outreach and education as a docent. His current academic research involves developing and evaluating statistical tools for assessing wind resources in Humboldt County. He hopes to apply these techniques in his work with the Yurok Tribe and he looks forward to many more misty field visits to the Klamath.

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A Message from the Director

Peter Lehman

Peter Lehman, SERC Director

At a recent weekly staff meeting, we welcomed a couple of new graduate research assistants, Michael “Joe” Purdon and Colin Sheppard. You can read about them and their interests in this newsletter. The addition of Joe and Colin to our staff means that we’ve grown to 20 people, a milestone for the lab and the largest we’ve ever been. It’s heartening to see how far we’ve come since the early days when Charles Chamberlin and I and two undergrads were the entire staff.

It’s also heartening to see the progress we’ve made towards building a new SERC facility. We’ve decided on a design-build procurement process and we’re now working with Facilities Management staff at HSU to develop the Request for Proposals that will go out to contractor-architect teams. They will respond with proposals and we hope to have chosen the winning team by early summer. Groundbreaking is scheduled for late summer. We’ll keep you informed about our progress.

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