Archelio: Developing the Next-Gen Passive Solar for Cold Climate

Student: Mark Dreidger
Advisor: Dan Faoro

Solar energy has been harnessed by man for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Chinese used reflectors to start fires for cooking. Since the beginning of recorded time, people have oriented their buildings to take advantage of the predictable movement of the sun across the sky. The vast quantity of energy that the Earth receives from the sun in one hour, is roughly equal to the amount of energy human civilization uses every year. The goal of this thesis is to develop a new method of solar heating that will bring the sun to the building, rather than passively waiting for the sun to enter the building. The energy captured will then be stored in a controllable thermal mass for later use.

By case studying existing solar thermal energy plants, lens science, existing thermal mass technologies, and looking at the way nature has evolved its system of gathering energy, a new method of heating could be developed. The system would use technology from both active and passive solar technologies. Active sensors attached to large parabolic mirrors would seek out the sun, and focus the sunlight on a Fresnel lens. The lens would then direct a concentrated beam of light into a passive thermal storage unit. In theory, this storage mass could operate at very high temperatures, depending on the material and the location. The thermal mass would also have to be thermally separated from the environment, ensuring there are no combustibility or safety issues. The building could access this energy, either via a liquid transfer system, or more simply through an air transfer system. When the system has calculated that the thermal storage requirements for the building have been satisfied, the mirrors could be focused on photovoltaic panels to satisfy the electrical requirements for the building.

A system such as this will take another step towards mimicking the way nature draws energy from the sun, while actually using the site to provide energy rather than the typical practice of piping energy in to the building from other places. Instead of passive solar technology that relies on fixed geometry, this system would actively find the sunlight, and deliver it to the building. This form of heating would be truly green, natural and plentiful. By reducing the heating requirement of buildings, it is possible that the energy usage could be drastically reduced.

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Cities Within Cites: Innovation Driven Infrastructure 

Student: Zachary Funk
Advisor: Anirban Adhya 

Slums are the physical and spatial manifestations of urban growth. With the increasing migration of individuals to the urban environment around the globe, it begins to challenge planners and designers to find new ways to organize the urban typologies in a way that addresses issues related to ecological, social and economic crises. Today developing countries are leading the way in urban growth. These countries are seen as models for what future growth in urban environments around the globe will be faced with. Urban conditions such as these need to be examined and understood to address the growing pains that come with such rapid growth. With such growth many cities are faced with a number of issues in areas of food supply, sanitation, jobs, and housing. There is a major disconnect between the classes, mainly between those living in informal environments, i.e. fringe settlements, and those in formal settings. The government neglects the settlements and views them as separate entities. Without aid from the city and its officials, the slums are left to find their own solutions to living conditions. This catalyst for innovation is unlike any other. Individuals faced with the challenges of everyday life in the fringe settlements are forced to find new ways to sustain suitable living conditions. This is unlike innovations that are driven by monetary investments or academia. Individuals in such situations innovate to survive, which allows them to be greater innovators. The aim of this thesis project is to look at the sanitary and health conditions created by these communities and how they can be restructured so that it allows for a better way of living. The idea is not eradicate these settlements but enhance them. Give them an opportunity to use their methods of problem solving and apply it to new forms of sanitation.

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