Solar light-thermal separation and reuse, an innovative design and application of the solar energy transmission device win the gold medal in competition by teacher-student team of the Graduate Institute of Opto-Mechatronics from National Chung Cheng

Published on Oct 25 2018

Nowadays, the use of solar energy for electricity is a fairly common practice. However, for people to use that energy directly indoors has been practically challenging. Owing to the inconvenience when using the solar power for indoors purposes which is usually involved with complex setups of the power transmitting system, the teacher-student team of the Graduate Institute of Opto-Mechatronics of National Chung Cheng University (CCU) has invented a solar light-thermal separator to overcome the inconvenience. The innovative device does not only apply wireless charging technology allowing solar power to be transmitted without going through any physical wire or circuit, its smart battery management system is also used to help control the energy storage condition, as well as the mobile App of remote monitoring system created to keep eyes on the power supplying status. In October 2018, The innovative and practical value of this CCU team-work was highly appreciated by the judges and eventually awarded a gold medal in the Clean Energy Technology Creative Implementation Competition.

In a full sunny day, the solar panels are often to be seen erected in public areas or on the rooftop of the factories and domestic houses, turning the sunlight into electricity. After the solar power has been converted, the electricity then will be kept in the storage batteries nearby. Ching-Wu Wang, Professor of the Graduate Institute of Opto-Mechatronics of CCU, explains that "Normally, there would be a lot of preparation when introduce the solar-energy-converted electricity into the house. The wire and the power circuit system must be properly arranged before the converted energy ready for indoor utilization.” “The ways of using the electricity are probably physically limited too. People can only use it at the fixed power plots close to or just have to use it with the extension cords for distant occasions.” Consequently, in order to make it more convenient for people to use the solar power inside the buildings, Professor Wang worked with four master students, Jen-Yu Yeh, Yan-Ting Chen, You-Rui Zhang and Chun-Sheng Chen to jointly invent a “creative solar energy transmission device” that combines the solar light-thermal separation and the wireless charging technologies, hopefully to free the solar power transmission from the spatial and environmental restriction, and make it easier to use solar power within the household settings.

“Different from the general wireless transmission technology, we have added a repeating coil in the device between the transmitting end and the receiving end to enhance the capability in terms of the distance and efficiency when transmitting the electricity.” Professor Wang further states. A mobile App of the remote monitoring system has also been developed in conjunction with the innovative device at the same period of time. Through the App, the battery health status of the whole device can be monitored anytime and anywhere. This App can also enable the users to turn on and off the solar power while being transmitted wirelessly.

In this competition, the CCU team from the Institute of Opto-Mechatronics continuously used the exclusive patented “solar light-thermal separation” technology, so neither the sun “light”, nor the “heat” that comes with it would be wasted, both resources from the sun were transformed into electricity and stored in the smart battery management system. Yan-Ting Chen, one of the team members, addresses that the smart battery management system can detect the health condition of the battery such as the dynamic changes of the voltage, current, temperature and residual power, then interact with the changes accordingly. For example, when the voltage or temperature in the energy storage battery is too high, the self-protective mechanism will be automatically activated to off-load. Professor Wang then points out that the battery management system is also designed to actively keep the voltage in balance inside each battery, during the charging and discharging process, to prevent the battery from the danger caused by the overloaded power.

Besides, in the same competition, other CCU team consisted of three students from the Institute of Electrical Engineering, led by Professor Gwo-Ruey Yu, also performed well. Minghsiung Township in Chiayi County is rich in producing pineapple, the team members have often observed farmers “putting a hat on pineapple” to protect the fruit from the sun. That observation gives them the idea to design the product-- “Smart multi-functional solar cap” to help reduce the damage caused by the sunlight, in the meantime, to help transform the sunlight into the lighting power that can be used at night for the growing needs of other crops. Other functions of this product such as the pest insect control and moisture level maintenance for pineapple plants by the attached water spraying device, etc., are also adding the value to the whole product. This team, at the end, win the bronze medal in the category of innovative design and application with solar photoelectric energy, in the Clean Energy Technology Creative Implementation Competition.