Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico & Caribbean Section) – Renewable Energy For Sustainable Development Laboratory

To promote engineering and sustainable development, the IEEE Student Chapter of the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico will designed and implemented a “Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development Laboratory” (RESDL) educational laboratory. Lab users work with university students and IEEE faculty members to cultivate a higher appreciation for science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Selected students from the IEEE student chapter of PUPR will work on the design and construction of the facility as part of their capstone engineering course. The laboratory will then be built and managed in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Institute of Robotics (PRIOR), a non-profit group which promotes continued interest in areas of science, technology, math, and engineering for students from K-12. Within the RESDL facility, high school students from the ninth to twelfth grade levels will be able to visit in groups to experience various programs and workshops on a schedule leading up to a major project.

The complete project involves the development of the first educational facility in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to provide workshops in renewable energy, management of solid waste, sustainable development, and automation. The facility will be equipped with solar tracking photovoltaic panels, a windmill, and an automated food waste digester. 

These technologies are to be studied in order to promote use in individual homes and urban communities. Each student group will design a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) application related to available resources in this educational facility. The application will include a control panel, ladder diagram, and input and output wiring.

The major project will involve the development of a completely automated anaerobic digester, a technology that can produce renewable fuel biogas for energy, while converting solid organic waste into valuable plant fertilizer. This device can then be installed into individual homes and urban communities. Each student group will design a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) application which will automate the proposed home anaerobic digester. The application will include a control panel, ladder diagram, and input and output wiring.

The project development process will enhance the students’ understanding of environmental studies, such as solid waste management, sustainability, renewable and nonrenewable resources, as well as automation. Overall, the project will aim to inspire the students to become more environmentally conscious as they move forward in their professional fields.

The scheduled workshops for students visiting the RESDL will include: IEEE and its history, global warming and its causes, green automation technology, anaerobic digestion principles, as well as time for the final project.

Author: Ray Alcantara