Over the next year, the UCF Alumni Association staff has pledged to make its workplace, the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, a more sustainable building, as part of a Green Office Certification pilot program.
This “GreenUP UCF” campaign, which lasts from Jan. 29, 2016, through Jan. 31, 2017, is part of a partnership between the alumni association, UCF Sustainability Initiatives and UCF Utilities & Energy Services.
Once completed, the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center will be the first existing building on campus to earn the Green Office Certification, and will serve as a model for other buildings to follow in its (no carbon) footsteps.
The effort is part of a commitment President Hitt made nine years ago for UCF to become climate neutral by the year 2050. Since then, existing buildings now use 38 percent less energy, and new construction is designed to the highest standards of efficiency from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
By implementing the Green Office Certification pilot program at the alumni center, we’ll be doing our part to create a more sustainable environment on campus, and in the Central Florida community.
In the coming months, we hope you’ll join us, as we share our progress, along with tips you can incorporate in your home.
By Zenaida Kotala
Assistant Director, UCF Communications and Marketing
The University of Central Florida is one of only two universities in the nation to land a federal grant that could revolutionize the technology used to run power plants.
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded UCF mechanical and aerospace engineering assistant professor Subith Vasu $1.1 million to investigate how power plants might be able to abandon the use of water to generate energy from steam and instead use supercritical CO2, a fluid state of carbon dioxide.
Supercritical carbon dioxide is an attractive alternative to government agencies and private companies for several reasons. If the technology can be developed to make the switch, it could mean less use of water — a natural resource in short supply in some parts of the nation. Commercial companies are also interested because supercritical CO2 is more efficient at transporting heat — a key principle, which power plants use to generate energy. Better efficiency equals less cost and potentially a bigger profit margin. In addition, it is possible to reduce the size of power-generating turbines by using sCO2 instead of steam. Using sCO2 as a working fluid enables carbon capture and storage) in certain cycle systems. In those systems, the power plant exhaust CO2 is stored underground instead of released into the atmosphere.
Georgia Tech was the only other university to earn money from the Department of Energy’s University Turbine System Research Program for research in this field.
“There are not many universities conducting research in this area and we already have a head start in the world,” Vasu said. “We’re working diligently on turbine technology and Florida is a major hub for the industry. Our goal is to maximize power-generation efficiency, reduce emissions, and become leaders in this area.”
Siemens, Alstom, General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems among others are the key players in the industry, and UCF works with most of them on ongoing research through its Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research. The center in the College of Engineering and Computer Science is headed by professor Jayanta Kapat.
Vasu is using the grant to develop a combustion computer model for the design of combustors, where fuel is burned at power plants. The model will provide insights into the processes that occur during the burning stage. Once a model is verified, he and his team will disseminate this tool to industry so they can design optimum sCO2 combustors.
Vasu’s broad areas of expertise include alternative fuels for propulsion and internal combustion engines, shock wave physics, laser diagnostics and sensor technology. He has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and has published multiple papers in each of his areas of expertise. He is also working with several international researchers on a variety of research aimed at everything from helping improve the efficiency of airplane engines to developing sensitive sensors that can detect toxic chemicals aboard commercial spacecraft.
Vasu’s team includes about a dozen graduate students including Owen Pryor who is working on this project. There are also several undergraduate students, many of whom have interned for engineering and space companies such as Space X, Siemens and others. His former graduate students are employed by major gas turbine companies.
This article originally appeared Sept. 8, 2015, on UCF Today.
Michael Hayman, ’03 | Professional Engineer/Project Manager, Moventas
By Angie Lewis, ’03
If you’ve ever driven through Texas, California or Iowa, you’ve probably passed a field of steel towers that look like giant fans. These wind turbines, situated on wind farms, capture the natural wind in our atmosphere and convert it into mechanical energy, then electricity.
“What a lot of people call a fan is the rotor on a wind turbine,” explains Michael Hayman, ’03, professional engineer and project manager for Moventas in Portland, Ore. “These things turn about 14 to 20 rotations per minute, but, a generator, which makes electricity, needs to turn at about 1,000 rpm. So, we make a bunch of gears that turn this from high torque, low rotation to low torque, high rotation. It’s a transmission system, very similar to a car, but it’s just one speed.”
Like most engineers, Hayman showed an inclination toward math and science in school. Working on cars with his dad during his childhood steered him toward an interest in mechanical systems. Although he set his sights on being a pilot for the Air Force or Army, his cataracts prevented him from serving in the military. Instead, he went back to his foundation and pursued a degree in mechanical engineering.
Hayman started his career at the Kennedy Space Center, where he was part of the Return to Flight program after the Columbia disaster, in which he was involved with getting Discovery back up and running. A few years later, knowing the shuttle program would eventually be coming to an end, he sent out his resume, and was contacted by Celerity, a company in Portland that makes machines that make microchips. After a few years working on the design side of engineering, he realized it wasn’t for him, so he once again sent out his resume, and then heard from Vestas, which makes wind turbines. That’s where he discovered a love for wind energy.
Wind technology is important to our future because there are no emissions, Hayman says. “I think that as far as all of the new renewable energies go, wind technology is the most viable right now. A couple of years ago, before fracking really started taking over, about 2008, the price of wind energy was actually less than oil. And, I think we’ll continue to go down that trend, because technology has come along where we’re getting into the megawatt class of electricity, and we can be considered more of a major provider in this niche field.”
Hayman says studies have shown that wind energy could provide about 20 percent of the national power need, whereas, now, it provides less than 1 percent.
So, where can you harvest wind energy? In the U.S., the middle of the country is perfect — the plains region, in particular — because of the constant, steady flow of wind from one direction, Hayman explains. There are many wind farms in the Northeast, but not so many in the Southeast, due to the region’s frequent afternoon thunderstorms, which produce turbulent airflow and would cause a lot of wear on the turbines — and that wouldn’t be profitable.
Although the Moventas factory produces gearboxes, as a project manager, Hayman spends most of his time dealing with customer service and problem solving. Compared to some of his previous positions, this position allows him to have a lot of latitude in making decisions and running his department the way he sees fit, which he really enjoys.
“I also take a lot of satisfaction when we implement a program and it works, and we get customer satisfaction out of that,” he says. “I like being able to set ourselves up for success.”
Power Up Q&A
Q. Favorite UCF memory?
A. I don’t know if those are fit to print! I was in the Greek system. I was a Pi Kappa Phi. I was also a senator for three years for the College of Engineering, and I was the finance chairman [for the Student Government Association]. Before I was 21, I had a $6.5 million budget (through SGA). It was all of those experiences, where, for as young as I was, I had a lot of influence for what happened on campus. It felt like I was making a difference on campus. I believe I was finance chairman when we approved George O’Leary’s contract. I was also there when we approved the budget to build the Rec Center, and for the expansion of the Student Union. So, it felt like, hey, we’re doing big things, and that was a point of pride while I was there.
Q. What advice would you give to current UCF engineering students?
A. Don’t be as concerned about your grades. Do as well as you can. There were so many people in that program who were just worried about doing well in class and not really seeking out internships and co-ops or any sort of practical experience. Engineering within school and within the profession are night and day different. While in school, I went out and found an internship for myself. I worked two summers at Tampa Electric Company. I feel like the classroom education is definitely your foundation, and you need to have that, and I got an excellent experience from UCF. But, you need actual, practical, day-to-day experience. Because we were working, our grades probably suffered a little bit, but all of us who did work left college with a job. And, I knew a lot of straight-A students in engineering — which is almost impossible to do — who were left on the bench. If you’re concerned about having a job when you graduate, internships are the way to go.
Q. Any hidden talents?
A. I play the guitar — poorly. When I moved to Portland, I started taking improv classes. I started performing improv and stand-up a few years ago. I haven’t done much recently due to a busy schedule, but it’s something I think I’ll do off and on for a long time.
Q. What’s the wallpaper on your phone and/or computer?
A. The wallpaper on my personal computer is a night launch of the space shuttle. The wallpaper on my phone is my girlfriend and I wine tasting.
Q. What’s your No. 1-most-played song?
A. Comfortably Numb — Pink Floyd
Q. What TV show are you embarrassed to admit watching?
A. It used to be “Fashion Police.” RIP, Joan. I guess now it would be “Deadliest Catch.”
Q. Last book you read?
A. “American Fraternity Man” written by one of my fraternity brothers and UCF Professor, Nathan Holic, ’02
Q. Best thing about living in Portland?
A. So many things are so close. There are more breweries in Portland than anywhere else. An hour south is premium wine country. An hour to the west is the Pacific Ocean. An hour to the east is Mt Hood, great snowboarding in the winter and camping in the summer. An hour to the north is Mt. St. Helens, which is also great hiking. There are a number of farms in the area, so there’s great local produce. And, everyone up here is so friendly.
Q. Favorite childhood toy?
Q. What/who makes you laugh out loud?
A. I like a number of comedians, but I have to give it to Daniel Tosh, ’96, a UCF alumnus.