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HNC Engineering Mini Projects 2020/21
As part of Design and Technological Innovation initiative for West London Institute of Technology, students are required to work in a group to innovate an idea for a specific sector or field focusing on one product or system to solve potential issue for renewable energy source. Students are expected to explore an idea, provide possible potential solutions and present it to a panel consisting of staff members and/ or employers.As part of the HNC Mechanical Engineering and HNC Electrical & Electronic Engineering, students took part in a mini project, which was set by an employer. This year, MTC (Material Technology Centre) Limited created the project brief.  
The employer then had to judge the students solutions to the project, selecting the winning teams. The winning teams recieve training from MTC Ltd as a prize for winning.  

HNC Mechanical Engineering Winner: Team Olympus Loon  

Olympus Loon is a simple idea that looks at the aerodynamics of a balloon and is powered by a renewable energy source which is solar energy. The main purpose of the idea is to advance the idea on solar panels and make an alternative model for a different environment such as a rocky environment. 
 
The aim of the idea is to reduce the limit in where solar power can be used. As solar panels need a flat surface, the balloons will help with mountainous areas too. Solar panels cover a lot of land and destroy natural habitats, therefore having the solar energy attached to the balloon will save land, which can then be used for agricultural purposes instead. 

Why use solar power as an energy source? 

Solar energy is infinite unlike other renewable energy sources. The radiation of the sun is capable of producing heat, which leads to chemical reactions that contribute to generating electricity. It is easy to harness through using solar panels. Solar energy is becoming revolutionary and is known as ultimate source of energy because of its non polluting attributes and infinite supply.It is cheap and relatively easy to install. For this project, Olympus Loon need to invest in flexible solar panels to optimise the full absorption of the suns radiation. 

SWOT Analysis  

Strength: Effective for when land isn't available to place solar panels or have national grids  
Weakness: Spherical shape leads to less sunlight on one side  
Opportunity: To be used in applications such as refugee camps 
Threats: The possibility of it being damaged when in a dangerous environment 

Design  

The hot air balloon will consist of a nylon fabric called Nomex, which illustrates great resistance against chemical, electrical and fire. The main components and wires from the solar panel will be contained and put in the passengers seat and attached to it will be a wire that will directly be connected to a large battery or generator all the way at the bottom and help convert the sunlight into DC electricity. There will also be a solar regulator attached that will ensure the battery is charged properly and not damaged.  

Technical Problems  

Electrical hazards are common and it is key to identify them before they can cause any potential harm. Inside the balloon there will be a wireless safety trip wire alarm that will send information directly to the headquarters incase of a contingency event.To suppress this problem, there will be a maintenance engineer visit the project every 2 weeks and carry out a full diagnosis for any faults or errors.  

HNC Electrical & Electronic Engineering Winner: Team W&H Energy UK  

A renewable energy collection system that efficiently collects wind & hydro energy in an offshore environment.
This system is an improvement on the current offshore wind farms within the UK.

What is the system? 

A renewable energy collection system that efficiently collects wind & hydro energy in an offshore environment. This system is an improvement on the current offshore wind farms within the UK. 

Hydro Collection  

To collect wind from the ocean, there is the ability to utilise the space within the structure to generate extra power without affecting the overall support the turbine needs to remain safely grounded. 

Potential Issues  

Potential issues include transporting, natural disasters, corrosion, damages and biofouling. 

Implementation 

The wind farm will be located offshore to utilise the high speed winds that are located within the ocean, as well as using the hydro power. The south coast is close to national grid power lines and can be connected using undersea transmission lines. The system can be connected to the grid using either HVAC transmission lines or HVDC cables.  

Hydro Generator Advantages and Disadvantages  

Advantages: 
Storage helps deal with fluctuation in the electricity supply by picking up extra or adding more when production is low 
Renewable as a high percentage of total reducing needs for additional electricity from fossil fuels 
Fast growing market we could capitalise off 
Generates sustainable and renewable energy 
Create jobs 
Being combined will save on costs 
Low cost per energy unit 
 
Disadvantages: 
Possible grid deflection if everyone goes 'off grid', which could possibly mean higher electricity costs for everyone else 
Batteries can contain metals such as lithium, mercury and lead. The mining and disposability of these metals could become problematic  
Expensive upfront costs  
Water quality degradation  
Is this system the future of clean energy within the UK? 
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