Building Science Student Page


Innovation Showcase

WISE is pleased to offer students the opportunity for students to present their research to individuals from industry, government and academia in our poster and networking session. We welcome and encourage all students to participate in this exciting showcase.

Student Posters

The Near-Infrared Properties of Silver Nanowire Films and Their Use as Electrodes in Smart Windows

Jonathan Atkinson, PhD Candidate, Nanomaterials, University of Waterloo

Every year, $1 billion is wasted across the province of Ontario due to inefficient windows in buildings.   Smart windows reduce heating or cooling requirements by electrically altering the region of the electromagnetic spectrum that the window is transparent. The current technology in smart windows uses indium tin oxide (ITO) as the transparent electrode.  ITO is 90% transparent in the visible region (400 – 700 nm) but only 60% transparent in the near-infrared region (NIR, 700 – 3000 nm).  The latter is an issue since a significant amount of beneficial solar heat is blocked from entering building during colder months.  In this work, ITO is replaced with silver nanowire networks (figure 1b), which are cheaper and more transparent in the near infrared region.  

We will first present our study of the near infrared properties of silver nanowire films.  At a given concentration, larger diameter nanowires are most transparent in the NIR due to the larger spaces between nanowires in the network.  The transparency of 100 nm diameter nanowire networks at a wavelength of 3000 nm is 92%, only 4 percentage points lower than their transparency in the visible (96%).   I will then present the results of nanowire electrode integration into electrochromic smart windows, and particularly their ability to transmit solar heat to reduce building heating costs in winter.

PEV Charging Infrastructure Siting Based on Spatial-Temporal Traffic Flow Distribution

Ahmed Abdalrahman, PhD Candidate, Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo

Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) offer a solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease fossil fuel consumption. PEV charging infrastructure siting must ensure not only a satisfactory charging service for PEV users, but also a high utilization and profitability for the chosen facility locations. Thus, the various types of charging facilities should be located based on an accurate location estimation of the potential PEV charging demand. In this research, we propose a spatial-temporal flow capturing location model. This model determines the locations of various types of charging facilities based on the spatial-temporal distribution of traffic flows. We utilize the dynamic traffic assignment model to estimate the time-varying traffic flows on the road transportation network. Then, we cluster the traffic flow dataset into distinct categories using the Gaussian mixture model and site each type of charging facilities to capture a specific traffic pattern. We formulate our siting model as a mixed integer linear programming (MILP) optimization problem. The model is evaluated based on two benchmark transportation networks, and the simulation results demonstrate effectiveness of the proposed model.

Application of Power to Gas Concept at an Automotive Manufacturing Plant

Azadeh Maroufmashat, Post Doctoral Fellow, Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo

A promising Power-to-Gas energy hub concept is proposed for an automotive manufacturing plant in southern Ontario. This energy hub converts electricity from the power grid and solar panels to hydrogen gas to be used in multiple pathways. These applications include energy for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), and injection in hydrogen enriched natural gas (HENG) pipelines which supplies for facility heating, and manufacturing processes. Ontario’s surplus of electricity, combined with solar energy and natural gas, are all converted to supply electricity to the electrolyzer and output hydrogen gas. Some of the hydrogen that is produced is also blended into the natural gas pipelines and sent through a combined heat and power (CHP) unit to supply additional energy for the facility heating and manufacturing processes. Excess energy produced by the CHP can also be supplied back to the electrolyzer to create a continuous loop of renewable energy. Canada has one of the largest pipeline networks in the world, but there are limitations of introducing hydrogen at 5 vol% based on studies in Europe and Canada. Based on these findings there is restriction for the blending system to handle a concentration of 5 vol% hydrogen gas. The demand profile for the refuelling stations shows that the system is capable of supplying for 100 forklifts and 40 FCVs operating around the municipal region with a total capacity of 222 kg per day. The foundation of the Power-to-Gas system is based on a formulation of a mixed integer-linear-programming-model which optimizes the operation of all energy pathways and determines the installation capacity of the electrolyzer and compressors.

Our primary objective is to minimize capital costs, operational costs, as well as produce revenues selling hydrogen, and providing the demand response for ancillary services to the power grid. Power-to-Gas also creates a net-emission reduction which could be used to sell emission allowances in the provincial Cap & Trade program in Ontario. Next, the available area for the energy hub is 2400 m2 which will account for the electrolyzer facility, hydrogen storage, and compressor units. This site is in close proximity to the refueling stations, CHP unit, controls center, and electrical substation, so the existing logistical pathways for energy transfer can be taken advantage of. Additionally, unshaded roof space of 160,000 m2 is available throughout the plant for solar arrays to generate a daily energy output between 117 to 150 MWh. Hydrogenics will provide their PEM electrolyzer for the system which can produce 99.999% pure hydrogen gas to supply for the dispensing stations. A Greenfield reciprocating compressor will compress the hydrogen gas to 172 bar to store in the ASME storage tank with a capacity of 89 kg. Finally, the post-storage compressors will compress to 825 bar and 250 bar for refueling the FCV and forklifts, respectively. The blended hydrogen will be injected into the natural gas pipelines at 5%vol and led to two CHP units (Centaur 50 CHP) with a nominal output power of 9200 KWe in total. The HENG will supply for facility heating demands which include the paint booths and plastics department. All of these processes have considered applicable safety instrumentation and are in accordance with all relevant codes and standards.

The installation of the Power-to-Gas system will require a total capital investment of $2,620,448. The electrolyzer and 1500 solar panels will account for 41% and 17% of the capital costs, respectively, as they are major processes used to supply electricity and hydrogen gas. The compressors will account for most of the operating costs which total $237,653. The energy hub, 76,073 kgH2 per year will be produced for all the end-use applications. Based on a sensitivity analysis, the annual revenue for selling hydrogen at $1.5 to $12 per kgH2 can sum to $54,741 to $437,928. In the Cap & Trade program, CO2 allowances can be sold at $18 to $30 per tonneCO2 and the model predicts a CO2 offset of 2359.7 tonnes. The optimal streams of revenue include selling hydrogen at $12 per kgH2 and selling CO2 allowances at $30 per tonneCO2. The ancillary services incentives are kept constant at $15 per MWh. With a combination of these optimal revenue streams the automotive manufacturer can expect a payback period of 2.8 years.


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