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Prof. Yin's Solar (electricity AND hot water) Panels get Real World Test

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Posted by JD on January 5, 2010, 7:27 pm

Prof. Yin's Solar Panels get Real World Test
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A more efficient solar panel designed by Huiming
Yin, assistant professor of civil engineering and
engineering mechanics, will be installed on a
Manhattan building to test its promise of
unprecedented cost and energy efficiency.
The new panel represents the next generation of
solar technology, in part, because it is
integrated into the building, replacing structural
sheathing and roofing materials. By producing both
electricity and hot water, it also merges and
improves upon proven photovoltaic and
thermoelectric power-generation technologies.

“The new roof panel is designed for conserving
energy, harvesting solar power, recycling
materials, as well as resisting various
environmental deteriorations and bearing
mechanical loading,” says Yin. “This technology
will be applicable to new construction and
renovation, and to a range of building types, from
residential houses to large commercial buildings.”

Successful development and testing of the panel
may provide a strong incentive for the roofing and
solar industries to embrace building-integrated

The demonstration system will most likely be
installed on the roof of Frederick Douglass
Academy, a high school partner of the Center for
Technology and Innovation and Community
Engagement, which promotes the education of
disadvantaged and underrepresented educational
groups. Academy students will help build the
6.4-square-meter rooftop shelter and monitor the
results of the installed solar panel array.

The test project will be engineered by Weidlinger
Associates, a New York City-based structural
engineering firm, which will contribute expertise
in codes, materials and constructability, focusing
on design of the panel substrate and analysis of
the demonstration building. The 60-year-old
company just won a $50,000 federal grant –
matched by a 10-percent commitment from the state
- to to expedite research of a “Hybrid Building
Integrated Solar Energy System for Photovoltaic,
Thermoelectric, and Heat Utilization.”

“Columbia Engineering is pleased to be
collaborating with Weidlinger Associates in this
important advance in hybrid solar panels,” said
Feniosky Peña-Mora, dean of Columbia University’s
Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied
Science. “This new generation of solar panels to
be developed from this collaboration will be able
to produce both electricity and hot water, paving
the way for large-scale changes in the housing
industry that will bring sustainable energy to a
new level.”

Yin says the collaboration would help the School
continue to expand its sustainability efforts.

“Our long-term goal is to develop innovative
products towards zero net energy buildings.
Through it, we will train our students to top
researchers and engineers to change engineering
practice for infrastructural sustainability.”

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