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A Wireless Sensor Node Powered by Solar Harvester for Marine Environment Monitoring as a Senior Design Project

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Hands-on Laboratory and Design Experiences in Environmental Engineering

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.120.1 - 25.120.12

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Paper Authors


Radian G. Belu Drexel University

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Radian Belu is Assistant Professor within the Engineering Technology (ET) program at Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA. He is holding the second position as Research Assistant Professor at Desert Research Institute, Renewable Energy Center, Reno, Nev. Before joining Drexel University, Belu held faculty and research positions at universities and research institutes in Romania, Canada, and the United States. He also worked for several years in industry as a project manager and senior consultant. He has taught and developed undergraduate and graduate courses in electronics, power systems, control and power electronics, electric machines, instrumentation, radar and remote sensing, numerical methods and data analysis, space and atmosphere physics, and physics. His research interests included power system stability, control and protection, renewable energy system analysis, assessment and design, power electronics and electric machines for wind energy conversion, radar and remote sensing, wave and turbulence simulation, measurement and modeling, numerical modeling, electromagnetic compatibility, and engineering education. During his career, Belu published several papers in referred journals and in conference proceedings in his areas of the research interests. He has also been PI or Co-PI for various research projects in the United States and abroad in power systems analysis and protection, load and energy demand forecasting and analysis, renewable energy analysis, assessment and design, turbulence and wave propagation, radar and remote sensing, instrumentation, atmosphere physics, electromagnetic compatibility, and engineering education.

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Irina Nicoleta Ciobanescu Husanu Drexel University

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Irina Ciobanescu Husanu, Co-PI, is Assistant Professor in applied engineering at Drexel University. She received her Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University and also a M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering. Her research interest is in thermo-fluid sciences with applications in micro-combustion, fuel cells, green fuels, and plasma-assisted combustion. Husanu has prior industrial experience in aerospace engineering that encompasses both theoretical analysis and experimental investigations, such as designing and testing of propulsion systems including design and development of pilot testing facility, mechanical instrumentation, and industrial applications of aircraft engines. Also, in the past seven years she gained experience in teaching M.E. and E.T. courses in thermal-fluid and energy conversion areas from various levels of instruction and addressed to a broad spectrum of students, from freshmen to seniors, from high school graduates to adult learners. She also has extended experience in curriculum development.

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Dunia Tania Periverzov Drexel University (Tech.)

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A Wireless Sensor Node Powered by Solar Harvester as a Senior Design ProjectThe projects are a valuable component of the science and engineering education. The designexperience develops the students’ lifelong learning skills, self-evaluations, self-discovery, andpeer instruction in the design’s creation, critique, and justification. Students learn to understandthe manufacturer data sheets, application notes, and technical manuals. The experience, whichwould be difficult to complete individually, gives the students a sense of satisfaction and theaccomplishment that is often lacking in many engineering courses, using traditional teachingapproaches. Furthermore, the design experience motivates student learning and develops skillsrequired in industry. The use of computer software packages for simulation and modeling toverify concepts and compare the results, giving the students additional skills necessary in thepresent day industrial settings. This paper discusses the development of a student projectinvolving a number of final year undergraduate students at our engineering technology program.We are proposing a simple, low cost wireless sensor network (WSN) with inherently longoperation lifetime, developed based on low cost sensor nodes. The sensor node is powered by asolar power system. This proposed sensing platform has the potential to be used as distributedsensing device to deploy in high density to give high spatial and high temporal water qualitydata. The proposed WSN is designed for monitoring a coastal shallow water marineenvironment. It is composed of several sensor nodes or buoys. These sensor nodes takeoceanographic data and send them to the sink node using wireless communication. Thedescription of this system, the system characteristics, performances, the buoy prototype and theuser application are presented in details. Various aspects of the educational experience areexamined such as the educational goals of the project, project organization, and outcomes.Innovative educational approaches are described such as brainstorming session and discussionwith students of high-level choices described by a decision tree, component selections,simulations and system performance and characteristics computation. In the second part of thepaper the design solution that was adopted is described in details. The adopted design solutionincludes: power electronics circuitry (DC-DC converter design and test), maximum power pointtracking (MPPT) algorithms, control strategies, battery and super-capacitor selection as energybuffers, and overall system performances. Different MPPT and charging algorithms wereanalyzed and evaluated for their effectiveness in solar energy conversion system, as well as thecontrol algorithms and implementation to maximize the power output. The project is a goodexample of multi-disciplinary cooperation as well as providing valuable hands-on experience. Inaddition to providing useful lessons in teamwork and project management, the project willprovide a working demonstration wireless sensor network and solar energy system. The goal ofthe design project is to explore and enhance students understanding of the fundamentalengineering principles, power circuit simulation capability and hands- on demonstration ofsystem prototyping..

Belu, R. G., & Ciobanescu Husanu, I. N., & Periverzov, D. T. (2012, June), A Wireless Sensor Node Powered by Solar Harvester for Marine Environment Monitoring as a Senior Design Project Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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