This activity is based on PLTW POE Project 1.3.4 Renewable Insulation
The largest amount of energy consumed within the average home is related to maintaining adequate climate control through heating and cooling systems. To conserve energy and decrease expenses associated with climate control, proper home insulation techniques are required. Insulation technologies relating to materials and application have advanced throughout the home building industry with time. The home building industry once relied on straw and newspaper for insulating material. The industry currently utilizes technology such as fiberglass and blown expandable foam. Insulation material advancement is driven by consumers demanding insulation material designed for high insulation value along with positive occupant health and environmental impact. Many homeowners today are designing new "green" homes. To meet the needs of green consumers, insulation manufacturers are developing insulating materials made from recycled products such as jeans, t-shirts, and other low volatile organic products that can be treated with boric acid. Manufacturers have found that many green materials have other benefits to the homeowner as well, such as cotton’s ability to provide excellent soundproofing.
The goal of this challenge is to design and build an a renewable composite insulation panel that will provide the highest insulation value.
As you solve this problem, you will follow the Design Process. Document each step in your engineering notebook as you complete this design challenge.
To meet the requirements of this challenge your team should:
- Define the Problem
- Write a synopis of this challenge in your engineer's notebook. Be sure and include the criteria and constraints. What is the goal of this challenge? How is performance measured?
- Ask questions to be sure you understand the rules.
Develop a Solution
- Research the topic using internet and other resources. Be sure and list the URL's and what you found (or didn't find) at each site that you visit.
- Brainstorm ideas with your team. List 10 or more ideas for materials in your notebook.
- Sketch concepts in your notebook.
Construct and Test Prototype—construct your panel such that your layers of insulation are uniform and not more than one inch thick. Place your panel on the thermal tester, insert the thermometer and take data as follows.
- Pick a solution. Consider using a decision matrix.
- Write a description in your notebook.
- Make a sketch.
Evaluate the Solution
- Record the intitial (ambient) temperature.
- Turn on the light.
- For practice, record the temperature every 30 seconds as the tester heats up.
- When the temperature is going up slowly and is at least 20°C above ambient, turn out the light.
- Wait a minute or two.
- Record the temperature during cooldown every 30 seconds for 20 minutes.
Present the Solution—Answer these questions in your notebook.
- Enter your data in the data sheet.
- Adjust the ambient temperature and R values to get the best curve fit.
- Report this R as your result.
- Compare your R values to others in the class.
- Why is your R better or worse than others?
- What could you do to increase the insulation value of your panel?
- Explain how your house might lose energy through radiation, convection, and conduction.
- What modifications could be made to your team's insulation design that allow for more energy efficiency?
- Which beverage would be more beneficial for cooling you on a hot summer day–a cup of ice cold water or a cup of hot cocoa? Justify your choice.
- How do birds insulate their bodies to prevent energy loss on the skin's surface?
- Suppose that you are sitting close to a campfire. You decide to clean your glasses and notice that your eyes feel warmer without your glasses. Explain this phenomenon.
- We wear winter coats and cover with blankets to stay warm in the winter. If the coats and blankets are not a source of energy, how do we stay warm?
- Product (10 points). Well engineered composite insulation material designed to produce minimum heat loss, representing good insulating value. Structurally sound, well constructed to close tolerances, all detail requirements met.
- Performance (20 points). Performance will be based on the R value calculated from cool down with the highest R earning 20 points and any device that insulates earning 12 points.
- Design Process (20 points). Follow each step of the design process and document fully in your engineer's notebook. See separate rubric
- This is a challenge for teams of 1 or 2 students.
- Composite insulation material must have overall uniform thickness less than or equal to one inch.
- Composite insulation material must have consistent internal composition.
- Individual insulation material(s) must be environmentally friendly.
- Individual insulation material(s) must be recyclable.
- Individual insulation material(s) must be economical.
- Composite insulation material dimensions must not exceed the overall dimensions of heat box apparatus top.
- The materials are limited to:
- Heat box apparatus
- Digital Thermometer
- Insulation materials
- Card board
- Standard and metric ruler
Last updated on: 28 October 2013