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MIE.44 – Thermal Analysis and Redesign of Campus Solar Electric Charging Station

Team Members Heading link

  • Clay Hohman
  • Karmen Merza
  • Harry Obikili
  • Matt Plutz

Project Description Heading link

During a most unprecedented period, a student organization at UIC, the Engineers for a Sustainable World rallied their resources to deliver a solar charging station to the Office of Sustainability. However, over the summer, an obstacle emerged as the system failed under known conditions. Our team was tasked with analyzing if the system could survive from a thermal perspective and redesigning this system for our local climate. To fully understand this, assumptions were made for the winter and summer which involved gaining knowledge on what components were inside the box generating heat. There are three components within the electrical box: the battery, inverter, and the solar charge controller and each had respective manuals that contained temperature parameters. These alongside a temperature almanac were used to produce calculations for the winter and summer simulations. The assumptions differed for the two seasons to evaluate a worst-case scenario with the winter calculations utilizing concepts from heat transfer and thermal circuits while the summer analyzed airflow through ANSYS. It was determined that a solution would be necessary for both the unpredictable Chicago winter and summer seasons. Our team decided on a design that incorporated insulating material around the exterior of the box for the colder duration of the year. However, during the summer as temperatures rise, we selected a fan that best fit the airflow necessary for the box. As the air is guided within the box, it requires an entrance and exit vent. Overall, the protection of this box is crucial as the electric vehicle is utilized to combat hunger and food waste on campus. Our team took many future concerns and rationalized solutions such as the future mobility of the box, effects of sunlight on darker colored material, secure mounts for the fan and reducing static pressure to obtain the most efficient airflow.