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By Lawrence Yu
Seventy students from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) collaborated with faculty members and corporate sponsors to develop an entry for the Department of Energy’s 2005 Solar Decathlon - a competition to build the most energy efficient solar powered home.
NYIT’s home, called Green Machine / Blue Space, was created to address global housing concerns while at the same time offering a comfortable, self-sufficient, environmentally clean, local living solution. Green Machine is constructed out of a reused shipping container and houses the work functions of the home. Blue Space is a living area that was designed to minimize the need for active conditioning systems. Its walls are composed of a compressed, biodegradable wheat straw product known as Agriboard.
The energy system of Green Machine / Blue Space was unique from the other homes in the competition. NYIT chose to use a fuel cell and hydrogen storage system instead of lead-acid batteries. Energy from the home’s photovoltaic panels was used to split water into hydrogen via electrolysis. The hydrogen was stored in low pressure tanks until needed by the fuel cell to produce electricity for the home.
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Lawrence Yu is a member of the NYIT Solar Decathlon team. His group recently spoke to a Congressional subcommittee.