Skip to main content
Skip to main content

Environmental and Weather

Name Investigator Tech ID Licensing Manager Name Micensing Manager Email Description Tags
Multiple Parabolic Trough Solar Collector for Heating Working Fluid Anjaneyulu Krothapalli 12-208 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>Solar energy collecting devices frequently use focusing lenses or reflectors to intensify the energy of the sun. Some collecting devices directly convert the solar energy to electrical energy using a photovoltaic array. Other collecting devices use the solar energy to heat a circulating working fluid. The device we have created at Florida State University may be adapted to either type of collecting device, as well as other types.</p> <p>The invention comprises a solar collector incorporating multiple parabolic troughs and a moving array of collector pipes which moves in order to keep the collector pipes in the focus of the troughs as the sun moves across the sky. The collector does not use conventional azimuth tracking; instead, the trough reflector remains static while the collecting device is moved across the face of the trough reflector with the shifting focal zone. The present invention moves the collective device so that it remains within the shifting focus as the sun moves.</p> <p>The multiple parabolic reflector flat plate collectors use solar radiation to heat a working fluid up to 120 degrees Celsius at pressures exceeding 5 bar. Our invention reaches temperatures above other systems under the same conditions.</p>
1MHz Scalable Cascaded Z-Source Inverter Using Gallium Nitride (GaN) Device Hui (Helen) Li 11-127 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>Currently, implementation of photo-voltaic (PV) systems into power grids is limited.  The reason for the limited use of PV systems in power grids is that the interface between the grid and the PV source very inefficient.  These inefficiencies are caused by module mismatch, orientation mismatch, partial shading, and maximum power point (MPPT) inefficiencies.  This technology provides a scalable cascaded Z-source inverter which can integrate distributed renewable energy sources and/or storages having a wide voltage range. The inverter uses a low voltage Gallium Nitride (GaN) device, which can be used to facilitate modular structure.  The GaN transistor is able to facilitate this structure due to ultra-high frequency, a small AC filter, and a DC electrolyte capacitor.  A comprehensive Z-source network design has been developed based on an innovative equivalent AC circuit model for the single phase photovoltaic system.  The invention is also suitable for hybrid renewable energy sources/storages application in wide system operation range.  A flexible and reliable control system is developed to improve the photovoltaic energy harvesting capability.</p> <h2><strong>Advantages</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Single energy conversion and boost function can be achieved simultaneously</li> <li>Independent maximum power point tracking for each Z-source inverter module can implement an efficient photovoltaic energy conversion</li> <li>This inverter is immune to shoot-through faults especially operating at high switching frequency and enhance the system reliability</li> <li>The scalable cascaded Z-source inverter is able to interface flexibly with different distributed renewable energy sources or storages in a wide voltage range, including: <ul> <li>wind power</li> <li>solar power</li> <li>battery</li> <li>fuel cell</li> <li>ultra-capacitor</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <h2><strong>Applications</strong></h2> <ul> <li>Photo-voltaic systems</li> <li>Plug-in electric hybrid vehicle</li> <li>Motor drives</li> <li>Uninterruptible power supply</li> </ul> <p> </p>
Space Efficient Photobioreactor System Jose Vargas 10-090 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>The continued use of petroleum-derived fuels is now widely seen as unsustainable. Presently available biofuels can be substituted for petroleum-derived fuels without the need for extensively modifying existing internal combustion engines.</p> <p>The present invention describes a microalgae-based bio-fuels production system in a space efficient photo-bioreactor. The bioreactor grows microalgae in a tall array of transparent flooded tubes. A nutrient media is circulated through the tubes. The array is configured to maximize the amount of sunlight falling upon each tube so that growth of the microalgae is as uniform as possible. Gassing/degassing systems are attached to the array of tubes at appropriate locations. These introduce carbon dioxide and remove oxygen. Cooling systems are preferably also provided so that the circulating media can be maintained at a desired temperature. Microalgae are harvested from the photo-bioreactor. The microalgae are filtered and dried. Lipids are then extracted from the microalgae. These lipids are made into biodiesel through a trans-esterification process and can be used to make other products as well.</p> <h2>Advantages:</h2> <ul> <li>Compact microalgae cultivation in a high productive manner</li> <li>Reduces the need for land since it has the potential to provide higher biomass production density than traditional systems of microalgae biomass production</li> <li>The modular conception allows for the gradual implementation of the system for in situ biofuel production wherever it is needed</li> </ul>
A High-Efficiency Multi-junction Photovoltaic Cell for Harvesting Solar Energy Indranil Bhattacharya and Simon Foo 09-151 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>Solar energy is a renewable energy source that continues to receive increased interest worldwide as it is the most abundant source of free energy available on the planet.</p> <p>At present, most of the commercially available solar cells are, at best, approximately 19% efficient in their ability to absorb energy from the sun. At the Florida State University, a novel multi-junction photovoltaic cell has been proposed by Dr. Simon Foo that will significantly increase solar energy conversion efficiency in excess of 40%, that is, more than double the efficiency of commercially-available crystalline silicon cells. The new design introduces a third layer to the solar cell that will enable the cell to absorb a wider range of the sunlight spectrum. The third layer is comprised of an Indium-Gallium-Antimonide (InGaSb) semiconductor material that improves the absorption of photons with wavelengths from near-infrared to the end of the infrared region of the solar spectrum. Importantly, of the infrared, visible light, and UV regions of the solar spectrum, it is the infrared region that contains the largest amount of harvestable energy.</p> <h2>Applications:</h2> <ul> <li>Aerospace</li> <li>Building construction</li> <li>Civil engineering</li> <li>Electronics</li> <li>Power stations</li> <li>Stand-alone and grid-connected applications</li> <li>Distributed power generation</li> </ul> <h2>Advantages:</h2> <ul> <li>More efficient than the single layer photovoltaic cells currently available on the market</li> <li>More efficient than existing multi-junction solar cells currently under development</li> <li>Capable of harvesting energy of photons with wavelengths exceeding 598nm, the largest portion of the solar spectrum</li> </ul>
A Single-Phase Single-Stage Grid-Interactive Inverter with Wide Range Reactive Power Compensation Dr. Liu and Dr. Li 11-131 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>In this invention, a novel single-phase single-stage grid-interactive inverter based on a discrete Fourier Transform Phase Locked Loop technique is developed to separate the real and reactive power between different energy sources/storages. The hybrid modulation technique and sophisticated power allocation strategy are developed for the power generation system to achieve wide range reactive power compensation and enhance energy conversion efficiency. One distributed energy source and two energy storages are interfaced to the inverter with three cascaded H -bridge cells used to investigate the performance of the proposed system. Different energy source/storages with wide voltage change range can be directly connected in the invention and the single-stage energy conversion can be implemented. The present invention can integrate distributed energy sources/storages in one cascaded inverter. Due to the absence of DC-DC converter, single-stage energy conversion can be achieved. The hybrid modulation technique and power allocation strategy corresponding to the proposed system are developed to achieve the wide range reactive power compensation, voltage boost function, and the optimized power management.</p> <p>The proposed single-phase single-stage grid-interactive inverter is particularly suitable to meeting the increasing distributed power generation needs. It can facilitate to interface different distributed renewable energy sources or storages such as wind power, solar power, battery, fuel cell, Ultra-capacitor and so on. The switching loss will be decreased due to the cascaded structure and hybrid modulation technique.</p> <h2>Advantages</h2> <ul> <li>The multilevel AC output voltage will reduce the AC filter size, improve power quality and enhance the system reliability</li> <li>The transformerless structure will lead to lower cost and lighter weight, in addition to facilitating high power application</li> </ul>
Pulsed Gliding Arc Electrical Discharge Reactors Bruce Locke 06-142 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>Gliding arc discharges have been investigated as a potential technology for gas phase pollution treatment and for liquid phase pollution treatment. Ultimately, the practical use of gliding arc technology to promote chemical transformations, such as the removal of organic pollutants in water or the generation of hydrogen peroxide, other reactive oxygen species, or reactive nitrogen species for treatment of potentially contaminated foods, depends on the efficiency that can be achieved.</p> <p>The present invention describes a plasma gliding arc discharge reactor that is useful for chemical transformations in liquids and gases. The reactor may include a housing having a plurality of divergent electrodes, a power supply connected to the electrodes delivering pulsed power to the reactor, and a nozzle that directs a mixture of a carrier gas and a liquid to a region between the divergent electrodes, thereby generating plasma in the region. The nozzle can include a first inlet for receiving the carrier gas, a second inlet for receiving the liquid and a mixing chamber that is configured to mix the carrier gas and the liquid prior to being directed to the region.</p>
Inflatable Solar Energy Collector Apparatus Ian Winger 09-128 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>Solar energy collector design composed of various mirror and lens combinations have been proposed, with significant attention being paid to the concentrating power of the lens or mirror. These solutions typically involve expensive coated glass surfaces and the weight of the components requires substantial mechanical actuators to move them so that they can accurately track the sun's motion across the sky. While functional, the prior art systems are expensive and complex.</p> <p>The present invention is an inflatable solar energy collector using two elongated and pressure-stabilized air chambers with a trough-shaped reflecting surface in between. The curvature of the reflecting surface is created by adjusting the differential pressure between the two air chambers and the device can be configured to provide a focal point outside the air chambers or inside the air chambers. For the version using the external focal point an external energy receiver is appropriately positioned. For the version using the internal focal point, the receiver is mounted inside one of the air chambers. The collector is preferably adjustable in azimuth to accurately track the sun's motion across the sky and is able to operate efficiently without the need for altitude adjustment, although altitude adjustment may also be optionally provided. The invention preferably incorporates a novel energy receiver in which stagnant air is entrapped and used as an insulator.</p> <p>This light-weight solar concentrator is of interest as the infrastructure required to support and rotate it is reduced compared to more massive concentrators. Parabolic troughs need to be rotated about only one axis to track the sun throughout the year and concentration power of troughs is sufficient to reach reasonable temperatures. This invention would therefore provide a solar concentrating device made of inexpensive materials and is relatively light and simple.</p>
Voltage Profile Based Fault Detection Michael (Mischa) Steurer 13-147 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>Fault location in a traditional power system is a challenging task. Electric power flows only in one direction: from the substation to the various loads. Therefore, when a severe short circuit fault occurs, there is a current rise with voltage sag near the faulted node or line and everything else that is downstream. If the fault protection system responds adequately it isolates the assumed faulted areas which are all the nearby and downstream customers of the actual faulted area.</p> <p>In a system containing distributed resources (DRs), most fault location technologies ignore the presence of DRs by assuming either low DRs penetration or no power injection from DRs during a fault. The few technologies that consider the presence of DRs have not considered a current limited system when a fault occurs.</p> <p>As the amount of local generation (PV, microturbines ... ) is increasing, the existing distribution systems fault location methods do not always apply because of various reasons including cost, complexity of the system due to mesh-like system topology, and bidirectional power flow. This FSU invention takes advantage of the system topology, the presence of the controllable voltage source convertors (VSCs), and the change of the voltage profile with the presence of the fault. Using the VSCs to help locate the fault will help overcome the issue of relying on the measured value of voltage when the voltage has completely collapsed in a section because of a fault in the distribution system. Instead of hindering the fault location process, the VSCs are used to help support the voltage, locate the fault, and provide fast restoration.</p>
Sharing Cyrogenic Cooling Systems Between Large and Auxiliary Devices Sastry Pamidi 13-040 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>Cryo-cooled or super-cooled power applications are increasing in popularity because they are typically lower in weight and volume, and more efficient than traditional power applications. Cryocooling is well suited to superconducting technologies (e.g., high-speed accelerators, wind power and flywheel applications) that need to be kept at cryogenic temperatures in order to function.</p> <p>Currently, the cost of cryocoolers is prohibitively high for small applications, in part, because cryocoolers are primarily designed for large devices. Additionally, cryocooling systems are suboptimum in their design because they 1) are based on a “use-or-lose” model that wastes cooling power that is not fully utilized and 2) cannot be shared between critical devices.</p> <p>A potential solution to these two issues involves a new design by Dr. Sastry Pamidi that enables cryogenic sharing of “waste” cooling between a large superconducting device and smaller devices in close proximity that also benefit from cryocooling. In it basic form, the invention is an add-on heat exchanger that is attached to an existing cryocooler through which a controllable flow of helium gas is circulated to “steal” excess cooling power from the device. The helium circulation system enables the productive use of excess cooling power and also eliminates the need for resistive heaters that are typically used to maintain required operating temperatures in cryocooled devices. Importantly, this exchanger will make it easier to run auxiliary devices under cryogenic environments without the need for each device to have its own dedicated cryocooler, thus reducing costs and improving the efficiency of operation as well as creating new opportunities for using cryogenics.</p> <h2>Applications:</h2> <ul> <li>Aerospace</li> <li>Cryogenic equipment manufacturing</li> <li>Military</li> <li>Power grid</li> <li>Transportation</li> <li>Research laboratories</li> <li>Universities, national labs, and hospitals</li> </ul> <h2>Advantages:</h2> <ul> <li>Enables sharing of cryocooling between a large device and smaller devices to minimize or eliminate the cooling waste produced by “use-or-lose” cryogenic methods</li> <li>Multiple devices can be cooled by a single cryocooler, rather than each device requiring its own cooler</li> <li>Improves energy efficiency and reduced cost of operation</li> <li>Creates new opportunities for using cryogenics in smaller devices and applications</li> <li>May be designed into new cryocoolers or added on to existing cryocoolers</li> </ul>
Organic Chemical Synthesis using Plasma Reactors with Liquid Organic and Liquid Water Bruce Locke 13-153 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>Electrical discharge plasma contacting liquid phases has been studied for a wide range of chemical, biomedical, environmental, and Materials synthesis applications.  The present invention utilizes a gas-water-organic plasma reactor for the conversion of alkanes into functionalized products (alcohols, aldehydes, etc.) using a pulsed plasma reactor with liquid water and flowing carrier gas. Hydrogen peroxide is also generated conjunction with the functionalized products.</p> <h1>Applications</h1> <ul> <li>Agriculture</li> <li>Healthcare</li> <li>Sanitization</li> <li>Waste water degradation</li> </ul>
Stokes Drifters: Very Thin Drifters to Study Ocean Surface Circulation Dr. Nicolas Wienders 17-022 Dr. Matthieu Dumont <p>Florida State University has designed a new instrument which can for the first time measure and monitor the ocean surface circulation within an inch of the surface where specific processes occur (the Stokes Drift). These important processes have never been measured, yet they are responsible for the movement of oil spills and other pollutants (plastic patches, river outflows, and radioactive leaks), the transport of fish eggs and larvae vital to fish life cycles, and the prediction of the movement of red tides to the coast. Existing drifters measure at least 50cm long/deep and are incapable of isolating the circulation at the ocean surface or the effect of the Stokes Drift.</p> <p>The proposed instrument will help calibrate new numerical models including Stokes Drift parameterization and recently designed radars and satellites by providing a very new and unique sampling of ocean surface circulation.</p> <p>The drifters are disks about 6 inches in diameter and small enough to measure the effect of the smallest gravity waves. They are also very thin to isolate the effect of the Stokes Drift at the ocean surface. Powered by batteries and/or solar panels, an accelerometer activates the antennas in clear sight of the satellites at any time.</p> <p>The drifters are about 20 percent buoyant so they are only partially immersed to allow for GPS reception and satellite data transmission while minimizing the wind drag. The drifters will transmit time, position and optional data stream via satellite at user programmable intervals.To ensure the drifters will not be affected by flipping from waves, they have GPS and satellite antennas on both sides.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">An educational video about surface currents featuring Dr. Wienders</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" title=""></a></p> <p class="lead"><a href="" target="_blank">View the real time drifter trajectories from our first experiment. </a></p> <p class="lead"><a href="">Experiment testing new drifter design underway in the Gulf of Mexico</a></p> <h2>Applications:</h2> <ul> <li>Federal agencies such as NSF, NOAA, and NASA.</li> <li>State and local agencies such as FWC and DEP</li> <li>Environmental groups</li> <li>Oil companies</li> <li>Fisheries</li> <li>Water management Districts</li> <li>Universities and independent scientists and researchers</li> </ul> <h2>Advantages:</h2> <ul> <li>Small size can mimic the behavior of pollutants or the evolution of river plumes at the ocean surface</li> <li>Minimizes wind drag</li> <li>Solves problem of potential flips with internal antennas on both sides of drifter</li> <li>Cost efficient</li> </ul>
Sub-seasonal Forecasts of Winter Storms and Cold Air Outbreaks Dr. Ming Cai 16-090 Dr. Matthieu Dumont <p style="font-size: 18px;" class="font_8"> </p> <p class="lead">"Our technology is a dynamics-statistics hybrid model to forecast continental-scale cold air outbreaks 20-50 days in advance beyond the 2-week limit of predictability for weather."</p> <p style="font-size: 18px;" class="font_8"> </p> <p style="font-size: 18px;" class="font_8"><span style="font-size: 18px;">Professor Cai's team has developed a technology that allows them to make Sub-seasonal forecasts for cold air outbreaks in winter season. These forecasts are made on the basis of the relationship of the atmospheric mass circulation intensity and cold air outbreaks. The atmospheric poleward mass circulation aloft into the polar region, including the stratospheric component, is coupled with the equatorward mass circulation out of the polar region in the lower troposphere. The strengthening of the later is responsible for cold air outbreaks in mid-latitudes.</span></p> <p style="font-size: 18px;" class="font_8"><span style="font-size: 18px;">Due to the inherent predictability limit of 1-2 weeks for numerical weather forecasts, operational numerical weather forecast models no longer have useful forecast skill for weather forecasts beyond a lead time of about 10 days. Recently, the research carried out by Professor Cai and his team shows that operational numerical weather forecast models do possess useful skill for atmospheric anomalies over the polar stratosphere in cold seasons owing the models' ability to capture the poleward mass circulation into the polar stratosphere.</span></p> <p style="font-size: 18px;" class="font_8"><span style="font-size: 18px;">They calculate the stratospheric mass transport into the polar region from forecast outputs of the US NOAA NCEP's operational CFSv2 model and use it as our forecasts for the strength of the atmospheric mass circulation. The anomalous strengthening of it is indicative of the high probability of occurrence of cold air outbreaks in mid-latitudes.They further derive a set of forecasted indices describing a state of stratospheric mass circulation to obtain detailed spatial pattern and intensity of the associated cold air outbreak events. </span></p> <p style="font-size: 18px;" class="font_8"><span style="font-size: 18px;">Because cold air outbreak events are accompanied with development of low and high pressure systems and frontal circulations, our forecasts of cold air outbreaks are also indicative of snow, frozen rain, high wind, icy/freezing and other winter storm related hazards besides a large area of below-normal cold temperatures.</span></p> <p><a href="">Forecast website:</a></p> <p><a href="">Professor Cai in the news</a></p> <p> </p>
Methods of Constructing Polyolefins having Reduced Crystallinity Dr. Alamo 09-166 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>The invention describes a family of polyolefins characterized by chain-walking defects of the type that add extra backbone carbons per monomer.</p> <p>These polyolefins display a large decrease in crystallinity relative to polyolefins known in the art. Specifically, the reduction in crystallinity is much greater than for earlier polypropylenes with a matched content of stereo or 1-alkene type defects. The claimed polyolefins can be an alkene-based homopolymer, or an alkene-based copolymer and can be made by a diimine-based catalyst or by a late metal catalyst. The defects in the polyolefin backbone are generated by a chain walking mechanism in which three or more carbons per monomer are added to the polymer backbone instead of two, as in conventional polymerization or copolymerization methods of alpha olefins.</p> <h1>Applications/Advantages:</h1> <ul> <li>Plastic wrapping</li> <li>Thin films</li> <li>Co-extrusion layers or molded parts in the absence of polymer blending or copolymerization</li> <li><span class="small">The cost of materials production can be reduced</span></li> </ul>
Method for Locating Phase to Ground Faults in DC Distribution Systems Michael (Mischa) Steurer 08-040 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>Electrical direct current (DC) distribution systems are operated without any of the phases grounded in order to prevent a phase-to-ground fault, the most common type of faults, to cause interruption of service. While theoretically such an ungrounded DC system can be operated with one phase grounded through a fault for an extended period of time, it is essential to find the fault location quickly in order to prevent any secondary phase to ground fault on the other phase to cause a disruptive phase-to-phase fault.</p> <p>The present invention describes a method for locating ground faults in an ungrounded or high-resistance grounded power distribution system having a power supply including high-speed switched power electronics (PE). The method includes utilizing wavelet analysis using Multi-Resolution Analysis (MRA) as a signal processing tool for recognition of characteristic features in the voltage signal. The voltage signal contains characteristic information in the high frequency range above the switching frequencies of the PE converters which allows for localization of the fault.</p> <p>In the future, the Invention can potentially simplify and speed up the phase-to-ground protection on converter dominated ungrounded DC and AC systems significantly. The Invention can be implemented as a computational component within a new version of a digital ground fault protection relay.</p>
Dual-Fluid Jet Nozzle for Generating Sharp Boundaries between Jets of Fluids Dr. Markus Huettel 16-107 Dr. Matthieu Dumont <p>Dr. Markus Huettel and Alireza Merikhi have developed a device and method for rapid assessment of sensor response times as the sensor is switched rapidly between two or more testing fluids discharged from a multi-fluid jet nozzle. An embodiment of the novel device is a dual-fluid jet nozzle that ejects two distinct jets of testing fluid at the same velocity through a single nozzle discharge aperture divided by a sharp edged boundary wall, which effectively create a single jet stream containing two fluids separated by a sharp boundary. An embodiment of the novel device may be configured to discharge more than two jets of fluid to create a jet stream containing multiple fluids separated by sharp boundaries. A sensor tip is first exposed to a first testing fluid and then rapidly exposed to a second testing fluid. The sensor’s output may then be assessed to determine its response time.</p>
Metal Halide Perovskite Phosphors in LEDs for Full Color Display and Solid State Lighting Biwu Ma 17-009 Robby Freeborn-Scott <p>Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are used widely in solid state lighting, electronic displays, bio-imaging, and photovoltaic applications.  A cheaper, more efficient LED device can impact multiple markets.  Some of the primary applications include television displays, mobile device displays, medical applications, solid state lighting, and energy applications.</p> <p>This LED technology comprises two components—an LED device and the process of manufacturing that device.  The LED device comprises earth-abundant materials. The manufacturing process takes place at room temperature using simple starting materials and common organic solvents in a single container. The color of the LEDs can be tuned. </p> <p>In addition, this technology focuses on using phosphors to get the desired color and intensity of light. Organic/inorganic perovskite materials are abundant, non-toxic, and inexpensive.  Thus, by using these materials to create phosphors, the cost of the LED device is reduced significantly. This is especially true as our technology approaches 100% conversion of the base LED energy to the phosphor.</p>