A team of Harker upper school students has won a grant of $9,110 to build an electric generator that will use solar power without the costly, cumbersome panels. The team consists of Prag Batra, Sachin Jain and Jay Reddy, all grade 12, Ramakrishnan Menon, Wilbur Yang and Shantanu Joshi, all grade 11, and grade 10 students Nikhil Dilip and Pranav Batra.
The team’s invention is intended to be an alternative for individuals or businesses who seek a cheaper solution for using green energy. “By capturing solar energy, converting it to heat and then harnessing this heat to generate electricity over a body of water – lake, ocean, even swimming pool – we can generate electricity at a lower cost than with conventional solar panels,” Batra said.
Earlier this year, the team, coached by math teacher Anthony Silk, proposed their project for this year’s InvenTeam outreach initiative, run by the Lemelson-MIT Program, which awards grants to teams of high school students wishing to see their inventions become reality. The team also received help from adviser and physics teacher Mark Brada, mentor Eric Toberer, assistant professor of physics at the Colorado School of Mines, and mentor Jeff Snyder, faculty associate in applied physics and materials science from the California Institute of Technology.
Possible applications for the generator are numerous. “For instance, the device could be used on almost any body of water and could be incorporated into future boats to provide renewable, portable power at sea,” Batra said. “In the process, the device would help reduce reliance on non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels and provide clean energy without negative environmental impacts such as air or water pollution.”
They plan to use the grant money to purchase materials for the generator, and plan to seek additional funds to cover travel costs for a trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Eurekafest in June, where they will showcase their invention. “We intend to have the device completed by early- to mid-June in time for Eurekafest,” Batra said. “If possible, we hope to demo the device for the school before the end of the school year.”
This story was covered by the San Jose Mercury News on Oct. 19.