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Micro Renewable Energy Systems As A Vehicle For International Awareness

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Experiences in Teaching Energy Courses

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.870.1 - 15.870.12



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Paper Authors

author page

Narayanan Komerath Georgia Institute of Technology

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



The subject of Micro Renewable Energy Systems is explored as a medium for learning across disciplines, and for global knowledge exchange. Experience from 3 years of course offerings is distilled. Students in these courses came with their own strong motivation to help solve major global problems. Individual assignments revealed the differences between the constraints, resources and perspectives in the US and in places far removed. The course opened avenues for students with experiences in other countries, to contribute their perspectives. As a result, some innovations have been developed, along with a knowledge base to guide others.


Missions into deep space and to other heavenly bodies are designed to minimize mass and achieve long-duration reliability. Thus they must also have high efficiency and, in some cases, autonomous adaptation to harsh and varying local conditions, in order to extract resources available from their environment. The research related to these devices deals with the difficult problems that also plague most small-scale power extraction devices on Earth. The field of micro renewable energy systems (MRES), on the other hand, aims to solve problems in bringing family-sized power generators to mass-market consumers. The path towards Figure 1: NASA Mars Rover. An solutions are typically at the interface between space example of an intelligent, mobile, technology and terrestrial energy issues. The philosophy solar-powered multifunctional adopted in MRES is that small devices cannot in the near remote laboratory. Courtesy NASA term achieve thermodynamic efficiencies of scale that large, utility-scale power generators can achieve. However, efficiencies of scale do arise from mass production and iterative refinement, once a critical number of systems have been adopted by users worldwide. In addition, MRES devices enjoy the immense untapped potential of having a few billion human brains attending to them. This advantage puts MRES ahead of the best “artificial intelligence” that can be programmed into space resource extractors. In the long term, the best technologies and the vast experience of innovation from both application areas can help boost both areas. Thus for instance we reject the notion that “high intensity solar cells” which are very expensive, have no terrestrial market applications. In the longer term we expect to see these added to solar concentrators on urban roofs, at very

Komerath, N. (2010, June), Micro Renewable Energy Systems As A Vehicle For International Awareness Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16965

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