Final Experiments


The first group made an experiment on specific heat. Their purpose was to determine the specific heat values of several different materials by utilizing the specific heat formula. For this experiment to happen they had samples of aluminum, granite, quartz and glass. These materials had to go on a hot plate and reach 72 degrees Celsius. Then, from hot plate they had to be transferred to water that was 24-25 degrees. The last step was to wait until thermometer in that water reached its peak and collect the data.

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Next group has built a solar tower. It was a few metallic cans attached to each other with insulating tape. A pinwheel was taking place on top of this construction. The tower was put on a hot plate. Under the heat that was going through the pipe made of those cans, the pinwheel was supposed to move. However, the pipe was up too high from the hot plate so the pinwheel didn’t rotate, but it moved a little.

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Tom Vales’ Demo

Tom Vales’ demonstration on radiation was very interesting to observe. He told us that not long ago people used uranium tools in their houses. Those tools were very harmful because they had toxic effects that caused radiation poisoning. However, people thought it helps them to get healthier. Tom Vales said he has tools for all body parts for such “treatment”. He presented how they work on himself (his neck, his hand, his head). Back in time when people used it, it helped them due to the placebo effect.

Placebo effect is a fake treatment, an inactive substance that can sometimes improve a patient’s condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful.

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Tom Vales brought to the class tesla coil that he built himself. It gave electricity. So every time Vales would touch the tip of it by his tubes, we could observe electricity jumping to it. He used different tubes. There were wooden ones, glass ones. The ones that were made from glass could change their colors. Moreover, he used a tube that was made from different colors glass. That was very unusual thing to watch.

Vales’ demonstration was a great blend between providing the basic information needed to understand radiation and offering a real commentary on the usages of it. The discussion of radiation has always been centered on nuclear power plants and weapons, when not too long ago the threat was often in people’s homes.

3 Possible Experiments

Liquid Heat Capacity


An object’s heat capacity describes the amount of heat required to change the temperature of that object by a certain amount. Specific heat is the amount of heat required to change the temperature of a substance by one degree (generally °C).

Liquids absorb heat in different ways. The temperature change in a particular liquid heated by conduction may not be the same trend of temperature change for the same liquid heated by radiation.

Watermelon Phone Charger

Watermelons can be used to power electronic devices, including being used to charge your smartphone. If you partially submerge a medium-sized watermelon in a bath of salty ice water and plug your smartphone charger into the rind, it’s supposed to generate enough electricity to charge your phone. It starts to work by adding more ice and more salt.

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Human Conductor of Electricity

Electrons are relatively free to jump from one atom to the next, and they’re attracted to some materials more than others. When you rub a balloon on your hair, electrons from your hair jump over to the balloon and stay there. The inside of a fluorescent tube is coated with a white material made up of phosphors. If you bombard phosphors with ultraviolet light, they re-emit visible light. In normal operation, the fluorescent tube is connected to a source of electrical current. The current supplies electrons that slam around inside the tube. Inside the tube there is also mercury vapor. When electrons collide with the mercury vapor, they cause the vapor to emit ultraviolet light, which hits the phosphors and the tube lights up. Bringing a negatively charged balloon near a fluorescent tube stirs up the electrons in the mercury vapor. This produces an electrical current, which excites the mercury atoms. The excited mercury atoms emit ultraviolet light and cause the phosphors to glow. When a spark jumps, you get a big release of energy and a correspondingly brighter glow.

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President’s Climate Action Plan

Rebuilding and Learning from Hurricane Sandy

The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force’s Rebuilding Strategy lays out a series of recommendations that will help the Sandy-impacted region rebuild in a way that will prepare them for these impacts – and that will serve as models for communities across the country.$5.7 billion to four of the area’s most impacted transit agencies

$100 million competitive grant program to foster partnerships and promote resilient natural systems

$250 million to support projects for coastal restoration and resilience across the region.

$20 million study to identify strategies to reduce the vulnerability of Sandy-affected coastal communities to future large-scale flood and storm events.

Reducing Methane Emissions

Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities. In 2013, methane accounted for about 10% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Methane is emitted by natural sources such as wetlands, as well as human activities such as leakage from natural gas systems and the raising of livestock.

Agriculture: Domestic livestock produce large amounts of methane as part of their normal digestive process. Also, when animals’ manure is stored or managed in lagoons or holding tanks, methane is produced. Because humans raise these animals for food, the emissions are considered human-related. Globally, the Agriculture sector is the primary source of methane emissions.

Industry: Natural gas and petroleum systems are the largest source of methane emissions from industry in the United States. Methane is the primary component of natural gas. Some methane is emitted to the atmosphere during the production, processing, storage, transmission, and distribution of natural gas. Because gas is often found alongside petroleum, the production, refinement, transportation, and storage of crude oil is also a source of methane emissions. There are two ways to reduce Methane Emissions:

  • Developing an Interagency Methane Strategy:

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Interior, Labor, and Transportation will focus on assessing current emissions data, addressing data gaps, identifying technologies and best practices for reducing emissions, and identifying existing authorities and incentive-based opportunities to reduce methane emissions.

  • Pursuing a Collaborative Approach to Reducing Emissions:

There are a few sectors in which methane emissions can be reduced, such as coal mines, landfills, agriculture, oil and gas development.

For example, in the agricultural sector, Methane can be reduced and captured by altering manure management strategies at livestock operations or animal feeding practices.

In case of industry upgrading the equipment used to produce, store, and transport oil and gas can reduce many of the leaks that contribute to methane emissions. Methane from coal mines can also be captured and used for energy

Promoting American Leadership in Renewable Energy

President Obama more than doubled generation of electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal sources, later he set the goal to double it again.

Accelerating Clean Energy Permitting:

In 2012 the President set a goal to issue permits for 10 gigawatts of renewables on public lands by the end of the year. The Department of the Interior achieved this goal ahead of schedule and the President has directed it to permit an additional 10 gigawatts by 2020. Since 2009, the Department of Interior has approved 25 utility-scale solar facilities, nine wind farms, and 11 geothermal plants, which will provide enough electricity to power 4.4 million homes and support an estimated 17,000 jobs.

Expanding and Modernizing the Electric Grid:

Upgrading the country’s electric grid to make electricity more reliable, save consumers money on their energy bills, and promote clean energy sources. To make it so President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum that permits and reviews process for transmission projects.


1. Catching the Wind

Wind power is a resource generated by wind turbines to convent wind into electricity. Sunlight hits the air unevenly, so this difference in the temperature moves the air. As the wind turns a turbine’s blades, the machinery inside the nacelle converts the energy into electricity.

The Power of Gears was an example of how these turbines work, however The Power of Gears using magnets instead:


There are different types of turbines presented by this exhibit. It gives some information about their differences such as rotor diameter, tower height, weight, speed, power and number of 9-watt energy efficient LED bulbs turbine could light for a year.


Three major factors to think about before installing wind turbines:

  • Area and Location (each environment has its own wind speed, direction)
  • Power Requirement (each building has its own electricity needs)
  • Wind Turbine Type (different types work better in different areas)

2. Conserve @ Home

Experiment of this exhibit consists of a steering wheel and three types of lights (LED, Incandescent and CFL). To light up the bulb I had turn the wheel and I had to do it fast to keep the bulb lit. To switch the bulb, I had to press button of the bulb I wanted to light up.


There were some information about every type of light


  • 8 watts energy needed
  • Emits light in only one direction


  • 40 watts energy needed
  • 80% of waste heat


  • 9 watts energy needed
  • Takes more energy to light up CFL than it does to keep it lit

3. Energized!

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The Sun hits the panel; electrons get energized and start to move. They create electricity.

To make this experiment work I had to move the solar panel into 4 different positions and then press the button of a time of day (Morning, Noon, Afternoon). There was a chart to fill up to record the results that is what I got:


The chart shows daily totals for each panel position.

The position of the solar panel is very important because it depends on how much electricity it generates. That is why some installations have motors, so the panels move as the sun does to get the sunlight throughout the day. There are also installations which pick optimal positions.

4. Investigate!

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That was an interesting exhibit to observe. By pressing a button two balls fall into the toilet, by pressing another button toilet flushes and we can see balls moving through the pipe. Once I dropped my earring into the toilet and I was not sure if I can still get it or not. I kind of knew how it looks like from tv commercials about all those cleaning tools, but the real picture never got into my mind till I saw this exhibit.

Pandora’a Promise Review



This movie is a wake up about nuclear energy. It explains common misconceptions about nuclear energy. The speakers are all convincing and at least one of them goes through his transition (like the others interviewed he was once anti-nuclear and becomes pro nuclear) during the Fukushima crisis. All those interviewed care very much about what has been happening to the environment and the effect it will have on our future if steady and growing amounts of CO2 and other pollutants and green house gases continue.

Since nuclear plants emit no CO2 they can replace coal very effectively. Robert Stone is a respected documentary maker and his successful Radio Bikini was an Oscar nominee in 1988. I think the most effective moments in the film are when the dosimeter is used to measure radiation. The areas that trigger radiation are not anywhere near a planet. There is natural radiation where we don’t expect to detect it that measures very close to that of Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Not only did the subjects interviewed have a change of heart but so did the director. These environmentalists are pro nuclear because they recognize that renewable energy is just too sparse and difficult to ramp up because of the low density of the power sources.

Nuclear Disasters

Chernobyl disaster

The operator error was probably due to their lack of knowledge of nuclear reactor physics and engineering, as well as lack of experience and training. According to these allegations, at the time of the accident the reactor was being operated with many key safety systems turned off, most notably the Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS), LAR (Local Automatic control system), and AZ (emergency power reduction system). Personnel had an insufficiently detailed understanding of technical procedures involved with the nuclear reactor, and knowingly ignored regulations to speed test completion.

The developers of the reactor plant considered this combination of events to be impossible and therefore did not allow for the creation of emergency protection systems capable of preventing the combination of events that led to the crisis, namely the intentional disabling of emergency protection equipment plus the violation of operating procedures. Thus the primary cause of the accident was the extremely improbable combination of rule infringement plus the operational routine allowed by the power station staff.


In this analysis of the causes of the accident, deficiencies in the reactor design and in the operating regulations that made the accident possible were set aside and mentioned only casually. Serious critical observations covered only general questions and did not address the specific reasons for the accident. The following general picture arose from these observations. Several procedural irregularities also helped to make the accident possible. One was insufficient communication between the safety officers and the operators in charge of the experiment being run that night.

Lucens reactor

The Lucens reactor at Lucens, Vaud, Switzerland, was a small pilot nuclear reactor destroyed by an accident in 1969.

In 1962 the construction of a Swiss-designed pilot nuclear power plant began. The heavy-water moderated, carbon dioxide gas-cooled, reactor was built in an underground cavern and produced 30 megawatts of heat (which was used to generate 8.3 megawatts of electricity). It became critical and the plant was decommissioned. It was fueled by 0.96% enriched uranium alloyed with chromium cased in magnesium alloy (magnesium with 0.6% zirconium) inserted into a graphite matrix. Carbon dioxide gas was pumped into the top of the channels at 6.28 MPa and 223 °C and exited the channels at a pressure of 5.79 MPa and at a temperature of 378 °C.

It was intended to operate until the end of 1969, but during a startup on January 21, 1969, it suffered a loss-of-coolant accident, leading to a partial core meltdown and massive radioactive contamination of the cavern, which was then sealed.


The accident was caused by water condensation forming on some of the magnesium alloy fuel element components during shutdown and corroding them. The corrosion products from this accumulated in some of the fuel channels. One of the 73 vertical fuel channels was sufficiently blocked by it to impede the flow of carbon dioxide coolant so that the magnesium alloy cladding melted and further blocked the channel. The increase in temperature and exposure of the uranium metal fuel to the coolant eventually caused the fuel to catch fire in the carbon dioxide coolant atmosphere. The pressure tube surrounding the fuel channel split because of overheating and bowing of the burning fuel assembly, and the carbon dioxide coolant leaked out of the reactor.

No irradiation of workers or the population occurred, though the cavern containing the reactor was seriously contaminated. The cavern was decontaminated and the reactor dismantled over the next few years.


  • Safety focuses on unintended conditions or events leading to radiological releases from authorised activities. It relates mainly to intrinsic problems or hazards.
  • Security focuses on the intentional misuse of nuclear or other radioactive materials by non-state elements to cause harm. It relates mainly to external threats to materials or facilities.
  • Safeguards focus on restraining activities by states that could lead to acquisition of nuclear weapons. It concerns mainly materials and equipment in relation to rogue governments.


"How to Make Nuclear Energy Safe." TriplePundit. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
"Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors." World Nuclear Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.
"Safety & Security." Nuclear Energy Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2016.

Iceland’s use of geothermal energy for generating heat and electricity.


Iceland is a pioneer in the use of geothermal energy for space heating. Generating electricity with geothermal energy has increased significantly in recent years. Geothermal power facilities currently generate 25% of the country’s total electricity production.

Direct Use of Geothermal Resources

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Iceland is well known to be a world leader in the use of geothermal district heating. After the second World War, Orkustofnun carried out research and development, which has led to the use of geothermal resources for heating of households. Today, about 9/10 households are heated with geothermal energy.

Space heating is the largest component in the direct use of geothermal energy in Iceland. The figure here on the right gives a breakdown of the utilization of geothermal energy for 2013. In the year 2013, the total use of geothermal energy was 46,7 PJ, with space heating accounting for 45%.

Heat Pumps

Until recently, geothermal energy has been economically feasible only in areas where thermal water or steam is found at depths less than 3 km in restricted volumes, analogous to oil in commercial oil reservoirs. The use of ground source heat pumps has changed the economic norms. In this case, the earth is the heat source for the heating and/or the heat sink for cooling, depending on the season. This has made it possible for people in all countries to use the earth’s heat for heating and/or cooling. It should be stressed that heat pumps can be used basically anywhere. The significant fluctuations of oil prices caused by political unrest in key oil producing regions should encourage governments to focus on indigenous energy sources to meet their basic energy requirements. Developments in the deregulation of the electricity markets and integration of the electricity networks in Europe have destabilised consumer electricity prices. This makes ground source heat pumps a favourable alternative for base load heat sources in countries where electric heating is common.

Heat pumps have not found much use in Iceland, since sufficient cheap geothermal water for space heating is commonly available. Subsidies of electrical and oil heating have also led to reluctance to invest in heat pumps. However a recent legislation has been set that allows users of subsidized electrical heating to get a contribution to improve or convert their heating system. The contribution corresponds to subsidies over 8 years. It is thus considered likely that heat pumps will become competitive in those areas of the country where water with temperature above 50°C is not found. In these places, heat pumps can be used to replace or reduce the use of direct electrical heating.

Electricity Generation

Generation of Electricity using geothermal energy 

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Generating electricity with geothermal energy has increased significantly in recent years. As a result of a rapid expansion in Iceland’s energy intensive industry, the demand for electricity has increased considerably.

The figure on the right shows the development from 1970-2013. The installed generation capacity of geothermal power plants  totaled  665 MWe in 2013 and the production was 5.245 GWh, or 29% of the country’s total electricity production.

Electricity consumption

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The figure here on the right shows how the aluminum industry in Iceland used up to 70% of produced electricity in the year 2013.



"Geothermal energy in Iceland." Iceland on the Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
"Geothermal." Orcustofnun. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
"Geothermal power in Iceland." Iceland. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.




Thermoelectric devices


The PowerPot:

The PowerPot is a thermoelectric generator that uses heat to generate electricity.  The PowerPot has no moving parts or batteries, and since the thermoelectric technology is built into the bottom of the pot it can produce electricity from a wide variety of heat sources.  Simply add water and place the PowerPot on a fire and it will start generating electricity within seconds.  Just plug in the high temperature cable to the back of the pot and your USB devices begin to charge from a fire.

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An automotive thermoelectric generator (ATEG) is a device that converts some of the waste heat of an internal combustion engine (IC) into electricity using the Seebeck Effect. The Seebeck effect is the conversion of heat directly into electricity at the junction of different types of wire.

The primary goal of ATEGs is to reduce fuel consumption. Forty percent of an IC engine’s energy is lost through exhaust gas heat. By converting the lost heat into electricity, ATEGs decrease fuel consumption by reducing the electric generator load on the engine. ATEGs allow the automobile to generate electricity from the engine’s thermal energy rather than using mechanical energy to power an electric generator. Since the electricity is generated from waste heat that would otherwise be released into the environment, the engine burns less fuel to power the vehicle’s electrical components, such as the headlights. Therefore, the automobile releases fewer emissions.



Thermoelectric generator on glass fabric for wearable electronic devices:

Wearable computers or devices have been hailed as the next generation of mobile electronic gadgets, from smart watches to smart glasses to smart pacemakers.

Byung Jin Cho, a professor of electrical engineering, proposed developing a glass fabric-based thermoelectric (TE) generator that is extremely light and flexible and produces electricity from the heat of the human body.

The organic-based TE generators use polymers that are highly flexible and compatible with human skin, ideal for wearable electronics. The polymers, however, have a low power output. Inorganic-based TE generators produce a high electrical energy, but they are heavy, rigid, and bulky.

Professor Cho came up with a new concept and design technique to build a flexible TE generator that minimizes thermal energy loss but maximizes power output. His team synthesized liquid-like pastes of n-type and p-type TE materials and printed them onto a glass fabric by applying a screen-printing technique. The pastes permeated through the meshes of the fabric and formed films of TE materials in a range of thickness of several hundreds of microns. As a result, hundreds of TE material dots were printed and well arranged on a specific area of the glass fabric. TE generator has a self-sustaining structure, eliminating thick external substrates that hold inorganic TE materials. These substrates have taken away a great portion of thermal energy, a serious setback that causes low output power.



“Thermoelectric generator on glass fabric for wearable electronic devices.” PHYS.ORG. N.p., n.d.    Web. 29 Feb. 2016

“HOW DO THERMOELECTRICS WORK?” Power Practical. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.

Thermoelectric Devices Cooling and Power Generation. Print.

Solar Energy Efforts

 Solar Leaf

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Daniel Nocera and his research team at MIT have developed the first “artificial leaf.”  Made from a thin silicon solar cell, the leaf is dropped into water where it separates hydrogen and oxygen molecules that are collected and connected to fuel cells that produce electricity. The leaves can’t collect energy as efficiently as traditional solar PVs, but are incredibly cheap to make.

The leaf could bring electricity cost effectively, especially in developing countries, to households that aren’t connected to energy grids.

 Eliodomestico Solar Still

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Italian designer Gabriele Diamanti created solar household still for developing countries with limited or no access to fresh drinking water. To make it work you pour seawater through the opening at the top, and the sun heats it during the day. The pressure forces steam through the nozzle leading to a watertight boiler, and condenses against the lid. The Eliodomestico provides up to 5 liters of water a day.

Since the sun does all the work, there are no operating costs. The still is even made entirely of inexpensive from available materials.

LuminAID Light

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Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta, the founders of LuminAID, created this solar-inflatable light in response to Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake. It’s designed specifically for those affected by disasters, crises and conflicts. The LuminAID light packs flat — 50 lights take up the same space as eight regular flashlights — and inflates to become a lantern and to reduce the glare of the powerful LED bulbs. Within the past year, the LuminAID light has been used in humanitarian relief aid in the wake of disasters such as Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Sandy.

Portable Light Project

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The Portable Light Project enables people in developing countries to create energy-harvesting textiles, which they can adapt to their own needs. For example, locals can weave the flexible photovoltaic cells into bags they carry around during the day, harvesting sunlight, and open it up to light their homes at night. Developed by Boston-based architecture firm KVA MATx, each kit includes a textile reflector, a photovoltaic material, a battery case with a USB port and an LED light. The battery charges in six hours, providing over 20 hours of light. The Portable Light Project has launched projects in Nicaragua, Mexico, Venezuela, South Africa, Kenya, Haiti and Brazil.

"New Solar Innovations That Could Change The World." Mosaic. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
"Ingenious Solar Projects Impacting the Developing World." Mashable. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2016
"Concentrated Solar Power." World Bank. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.