Prof. Yin's Solar Panels get Real World Test

A more efficient solar panel designed by Huiming Yin, assistant professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics, will be installed on a Manhattan building to test its promise of unprecedented cost and energy efficiency.

The new panel represents the next generation of solar technology, in part, because it is integrated into the building, replacing structural sheathing and roofing materials. By producing both electricity and hot water, it also merges and improves upon proven photovoltaic and thermoelectric power-generation technologies.
“The new roof panel is designed for conserving energy, harvesting solar power, recycling materials, as well as resisting various environmental deteriorations and bearing mechanical loading,” says Yin. “This technology will be applicable to new construction and renovation, and to a range of building types, from residential houses to large commercial buildings.”
Successful development and testing of the panel may provide a strong incentive for the roofing and solar industries to embrace building-integrated solutions.
The demonstration system will most likely be installed on the roof of Frederick Douglass Academy, a high school partner of the Center for Technology and Innovation and Community Engagement, which promotes the education of disadvantaged and underrepresented educational groups. Academy students will help build the 6.4-square-meter rooftop shelter and monitor the results of the installed solar panel array. 
The test project will be engineered by Weidlinger Associates, a New York City-based structural engineering firm, which will contribute expertise in codes, materials and constructability, focusing on design of the panel substrate and analysis of the demonstration building. The 60-year-old company just won a $150,000 federal grant – matched by a 10-percent commitment from the state - to to expedite research of a “Hybrid Building Integrated Solar Energy System for Photovoltaic, Thermoelectric, and Heat Utilization.”
“Columbia Engineering is pleased to be collaborating with Weidlinger Associates in this important advance in hybrid solar panels,” said Feniosky Peña-Mora, dean of Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. “This new generation of solar panels to be developed from this collaboration will be able to produce both electricity and hot water, paving the way for large-scale changes in the housing industry that will bring sustainable energy to a new level.”
Yin says the collaboration would help the School continue to expand its sustainability efforts.
“Our long-term goal is to develop innovative products towards zero net energy buildings. Through it, we will train our students to top researchers and engineers to change engineering practice for infrastructural sustainability.”


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