NYU/ITP, Fall 2004, Jeff Feddersen
Tuesdays, 9:30 - 12:00
[jump to the syllabus]
This class introduces students to concepts of
renewable sources of energy. The first third of the course begins with
a general look at the topic and invites discussion of its political and
social ramifications. At the same time, students will be introduced to
a handful of technical concepts that supplement the skills learned in
physical computing. These skills will allow the
student to monitor, harvest, and store small and/or intermittent
sources of energy such as those from solar cells, turbines, and other
sources. For the remainder of the class the students, working in
groups, will create projects that utilize a shared renewable resource,
in this case a 80W solar panel on the roof of 721 Broadway. The
finished projects will be displayed in an on-floor installation.
1. To develop a broad perspective
and nuanced understanding of renewable and
non-renewable energy generation, storage and consumption.
2. To become well-versed in the current state
of the art in energy generation and storage, as well as near-
and far-term technologies that may impact the field.
3. To gain the skills necessary to
create projects utilizing novel environmental energy supplies,
and to measure and monitor the
energy usage in those projects.
4. To develop a large-scale, community-based
collaborative project utilizing a currently available
renewable energy supply.
1. Solar System. The bulk of the
coursework involves proposing, refining, and implementing projects to
utilize a small photovoltaic array installed on the roof of the
building. The 80W panel will charge a 80 Amp-hour battery and provide
AC and DC electrical outlets. Students, working in groups, will create
projects that use that energy supply to be deployed on the floor.
Students will brainstorm and propose ideas by the second week, and
throughout the semester the concepts will be refined and reworked. In
the end, the projects should demonstrate technical excellence,
creativity, and a thoughtful, integrated consideration of the topic of
2. Micropowered Thing. Students will
also individually develop simple, small-scale projects that run on
energy scavenged from the environment. Examples of potential projects
include BEAM-style solar robots or an LED display that runs off a hand
crank. See the project brief.
3. R&D - Reading and Discussion.
Students will complete a large amount of reading for this class.
Various articles and papers, ranging from Buckminster Fuller to the
Department of Defense, will be assigned. At times, different readings
may be assigned to different groups depending on that group's
direction. Students will be expected to focus on specific issues and
educate the class, so that we can cover more ground than would be
Throughout the semester guest experts will visit the
class. The guests will present information on their area of expertise,
and will also serve at times as a critical audience for student project
Thursdays, 1PM - 3PM
in the adjunct office
goto week: 01 02 03 04 05 | 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 | 14
||During the first five weeks we cover a lot
of ground. We'll look at the most general readings on the field of
sustainable energy, and discuss energy from a global perspective. We'll
learn about the various ways energy is generated and stored, focusing
specifically on electricity. We'll cover the fundamental ways
electricity can be generated - induction, photovoltaics, the seebeck
effect, etc. We'll look at ways people are seeking to harvest tiny
amounts of energy from footsteps, body heat and sound. We'll measure
the energy consumption of the day-to-day objects in our homes, convert
old p-comp projects to run on batteries and observe their performance,
and create our own energy sources to run a simple project.
1. September 7
A Big Picture: Energy in General and Electricity
Our planet's only energy "income" is solar - the energy
that beams down to us from the fusion reactor of our sun. What happens
from there is where things get interesting. In this first class we'll
cover we'll look at Earth's energy income (as well as its accumulated
energy "savings") and follow it to its various manifestations.
From this discussion we'll observe that energy is easily
transmutable from one form to another. We'll take a closer look at
electrical energy and cover the fundamental ways electrical energy can
be generated. An interesting fact - all the ways we know of to generate
electricity were discovered in the 1800's except two: the
electro-kinetic effect results when water passes over special
nano-structures and was discovered last year; and the electro-chemical
effect, while credited to Volta in the 1800's, appears to have been
exploited by artifacts found in Baghdad dating back to 200BC.
1. Come up with three ideas for
projects to utilize the solar panel on our roof. Give no consideration
whatsoever to the feasibility of the projects - just come up with ideas
that you like and would like to live with on the floor.
2. Revive an old pcomp project - any
project, but ideally one that's small and self-contained. If you don't
have one, throw together something simple - it could the blinking LED
program, or if you're feeling more ambitious, something with a motor or
Chapter Three, Eco-Effectiveness
(pp. 68 - 91), Cradle to
Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough
and Michael Braungart, 2002.
Chapter One, Micropower - Thomas
Edison's Dream Revisited (pp. 24 - 45), Power to the People, Vijay
2. September 14
A little picture: Micropower harvesting
Last week we were thinking big; this week
we'll think small. We'll look at some of our own pcomp projects and
measure their power consumption to get a sense for the scale of energy
usage we're working with. We'll also review basic terms and units used
in talking about energy. Then we'll look at a group of projects -
wireless sensor networks, simple robots - that scavenge power from
their environment via heat, light, even vibration.
on the circuits we looked at in class.
1. Pick any of the ideas for the solar
project from class today and develop it further. Be
prepared to discuss in class.
2. Measure and record
the power consumption of your pcomp project (we started this in class).
Email me the results, and I'll compile
them for future reference.
Energy Scavenging with Shoe-Mounted Piezoelectronics,
Nathan S. Shenk, Joseph Paradiso, 2001.
A study of
low level vibrations as a power source for wireless sensor nodes,
Shad Roundy et. al., 2002. (See also this article about Roundy's and others' related
Scan the online resources for BEAM robots: solarbotics.com
Review the various research projects under DARPA's
Energy Harvesting Initiative, archived here.
Today David Buckner of Solar
Energy Systems will be visiting to discuss the photovoltaic system
we are placing on the roof. We'll also discuss the development of the
large scale projects before his arrival.
Based on concepts discussed in class, form three
groups for the solar project. Email me with the group
Nature Clean Energy Special Issue, Volume 414, 2001
(start with Alternative Energy Overview)
"Oil isn't going away" Interview with Lee Raymond,
Newsweek, Spetmber 20, 2004 (handout)
4. September 28
Storage: capacitors and batteries
Goals today are to discuss both micropower and
large-scale projects; settle group arrangements around project
concepts, and touch on power storage via various battery and capacitor
technologies. Thanks to those students demonstrating the micropower
work already underway.
Prepare micropower project proposals
Twilight of the World's Power Structures
(xvii-xxxviii), Critical Path, R. Buckminster Fuller, 1981 (handout)
5. October 5
Present micropowered project proposals
Today we'll hear student's proposals for small projects
that generate and use their own energy. Also, Human Powered Vehicles.
Derive criteria for next week's proposals.
Prepare for next week's project presentation to guest
Neil Chambers of Green Ground Zero.
6. October 12
Presentation: Initial concept proposal
The system was finally put in place last Friday. This
page explains how it is put together. There
are parts from Sharp, MorningStar, and Xantrex.
Neil chambers, Green Ground
Zero. "Neil Chambers is an architect who has worked his entire
career to merge nature together with the built world. His experience
includes interiors, infrastructure, residential renovations, commercial
buildings and product design. He is best known as the executive
director of Green Ground Zero. He is one of the founding partners in
NCEB Product Design. Neil studied architecture at Clemson University
and studio arts at Maryland Institute, College of Art.
Along with his design work, Neil has advised elected
officials on environmental policy, taught as an adjunct professor at
New York University and developed ways of encouraging green business in
New York. Neil educates the public on sustainable practices with
speaking engagements, holding workshops on sustainable methods and
creating policy to make green design more accessible.
He has been the executive director of Green Ground
Zero since 2003. GGZ focuses on making New York City and other
urban areas worldwide more livable with sustainable architecture and
Data sheets about
Create a preliminary power budget for the solar
Sustenance - Akio, Jared, Mark, Matt, Morgan
Slots - James, John, Wiley
Electroluminesence - Marta, Ram, Sita, Ty
7. October 19
In depth: Photovoltaics
Anthony O. Pereira from AltPower. "Anthony
O. Pereira holds a BA in Economics from Fordham University. He has been
involved in the construction industry since his early teens, working
for his family's concrete construction company. Upon receiving his
degree, he spent a year working with Greenpeace Action in New York
City, fundraising and doing activist work. Later, after 5 years in the
New York architecture industry working with 'Green architectural firms
specializing in solar electric system design, including Kiss + Cathcart
Architects, he began pursuing projects in solar electricity as an
independent consultant. Over the years he has worked on renewable
energy projects throughout the New York Metropolitan area with some of
the world's leading architectural, engineering and construction
management firms. Since 1998, Anthony has run successful renewable
energy development and construction management businesses, his latest
venture being altPOWER, Inc." more...
8. October 26
Amelia Amon of Alt Technica. "At the NYC design company Alt.
Technica, Amelia Amon develops solar products and site-specific
installations such as NESEA's solar-powered ice cream cart. Other
products include solar fountains, streetlights, corporate signage, and
SolSpherica at Liberty Science Center. She co-founded the design
organization O2NY, chaired the IDSA/NY, and currently serves on the
NESEA Board of Directors."
Shigeru Ban builds paper structures and founded the voluntary architects' network.
Brazil and Gaviotas, Columbia - ecotecture.
9. November 2
Presentation: Revised concepts and
10. November 9
Inidividual and group meetings
| 11. November 16
for a Greenhouse Planet, Martin Hoffert, 1999, and
Beam It Down,
Martin Hoffert et. al., Technology review 1997
| 12. November 23
Presentation: Micropower projects
recess: Thursday, November 25 - Saturday, November 27 ]
| 13. November 30
Workshop w/ Working Projects
14. December 7
|Sunday, December 19 and Monday, December 20