2009 Task 5
Home Up



This team's task was to come up with a way to use wind power to produce drinking water directly.  In other words, only mechanical processes were allowed.  There could be no step in the process where wind power was converted to electricity.  In the end, the process the team came up with was to heat water using solar energy concentrated with a Fresnel lens, compress it using wind power, and then allow the superheated water to flash, yielding a vapor stream that could be condensed and used as drinking water.  Neither the Fresnel lens heating step nor the wind-powered compression step were demonstrated on the bench-scale setup.  Rather, the heating was accomplished with a turkey cooker and the compression with a tank of compressed air.  The flash step was what was demonstrated.



The team readies itself for the oral presentation, which took place in a conference room attached to the Pan Am Center.   We have no photos of the team actually entering the conference room.  However, here is a photo of the door to the room taken about 20 minutes after they started their presentation.  We noted no blood nor other bodily fluids leaking under the door, and we took this as a good sign.
Posing for a photo amongst the palms trees after the presentation.  Still alive, still smiling, and thumbs up.
Now, to work on assembling the bench-scale demonstration apparatus.  Like the Task 3 team, these folks would have their demonstration set up outside.   One of the first orders of business was to paint the pressure vessel (a 5-gallon beverage keg) appropriately.  While doing so, why not also paint the funnel.  In fact, why not WEAR the funnel after you paint it.
WERC director Abbas Ghassemi takes a few minutes to chat with the team.   Caitlin and Kristen with the finished pressure vessel.  Whether or not it worked, who cared.  At least it looked good.  The Bobcat pawprint was drawn freehand.
Setting up the bench-scale demonstration.  The flash tank is the tall, clear cylinder right in the center of the photo.  Behind that was the turkey cooker to heat the water.  Behind that was the (at this point unpainted) 5-gallon beverage keg used to pressurize the hot water, and attached to the trailer in the background is the compressed air tank.   Task 5's poster.
The same WERC camera crew that visited the Task 3 demonstration visited these guys,too.  Their set-up areas were right next to each other.   Time to get serious.  A judging team is paying a visit, and Kristen explains the process.
The system in action.  Flashing of the superheated water occurs in the tall, clear cylinder, with the vapor stream captured by the pretty green funnel and piped to a condenser buried in a bucket of ice water.  The outlet of the condenser is the small pipe emerging from the bottom right of the gray bucket with is sitting on the upside down green bucket.  Note the vapor coming out.  By this time, everything should be liquid, but apparently the condenser wasn't long enough for all of the vapor to condense, so both liquid and vapor emerged.   Aaron decides to help the condensation process by wrapping his cold hand around the condenser tube.  Seth gazes at this in awe.
A tired, wet, but triumphant Task 5 team.