Year 13 students discuss their solar water heating project.
Renewable energy: Solar water heating
Shannon: This is a solar water heater. It will be placed on top of the staff room and it will hopefully feed hot water to the men's bathroom, the basin, and into the staff room kitchen.
Jason: This is part of a five year plan to reduce our energy consumption. So, it is all renewable energy. I think the challenge for us was that the only thing that we already had was the tubes, so we had to make the manifold and all the framing and do all the design process for ourselves.
Jason: Obviously with a project like this there’s some pretty big compliance standards we have to follow, but we’re lucky being with the school we don’t have to apply for building consent. So we have the ability to put it on there without getting any recognition from the council. To change anything with the plumbing we have to use a certified plumber. We have to do safe practice when we’re going up on the roof.
Shannon: But we will be able to fix it to the roofs and with the guidance of the teacher we should be able to do it.
Jason: Our biggest problem probably would be all the copper, it’s pretty hard to braze and bend copper to get it right. We spent a good time making the manifold. This is our failed version, the first time we tried I burnt a hole in there with the oxy acetylene gas so, it’s new, it’s different to work with, but once we were used to it we got it done pretty quickly.
Jason: At the end of each of these tubes there is a socket that will fit into here. When these tubes heat up it heats up the socket and there is a pump at the end. There will be water in the tube. The socket heats up the water in the tube, there's a sensor and once the water gets to a certain temperature the pump will turn on and it will start pumping water down to the cylinder and fresh water back up. When all of the cold water gets up here it will start heating up again and then the cycle just continues.
Shannon: This is our first time creating a solar water heater. So Jason came up with the design of the slip on. I’ve never seen this before, so it's been good.
Jason: Pretty much what I designed is something you wouldn't see anywhere else, it’s two channels. What we've done is pushed our tubes through one channel, and then the other chanel goes on top like that. So this is the outer channel and this is the inner channel. What they do is they slide together to make it a little bit water tight, just a bit easier to work with.
Jason: I’ve really enjoyed working on this project this year and it’s made me consider a future in renewable energy. I’m looking to do a course with SIT (Southern Institute of Technology), a renewable energy course, which will hopefully set me up for further studies in renewable energy.
Shannon: It’s been fun working with another person. It’s not your own project. So you work with another person and you get to make better ideas. You might come up with something but the other person might be able to improve it. So you can just continue to make that process and continue to get a good design like we have come out with. My first choice would be becoming an aircraft technician which I developed an interest for through metal technology. I like to work with my hands a lot, and the planning stage. I learnt that I don't want to be in an office, I don't want to be making the project and building and rebuilding.
Jason: The best part about it is that it is not all theory. I’m definitely a person that can't sit still for very long, it definitely helps being able to work practically on something rather than just think about it.
Jason: I think we are definitely leaving our mark on the school because not many people can say that they have designed and built a solar water heating system and been able to install it on the school. The fact that we are contributing to that goal to reduce our energy consumption is pretty special.
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