Real student projects with a focus on sustainability

Published: 11 June 2019

Nine student projects with a focus on sustainability were presented in this year's edition of Sustainable Living, the project course given at the third year at the Master Programmes in Mechanical Engineering and Sustainable Energy Engineering.

The students had set up stands at campus where they showed their prototypes. Among these were a large drone that had been developed to have a long flight time and is intended to be used to inspect damage to wind turbines.

– It is expensive and dangerous to hire special staff who manually inspect the wind turbines by climbing the wings or using lifts. Using a drone is cheaper, faster and safer. We have designed the drone in the CAD program NX and then 3D-printed the various parts at LTU Business premises, purchased the engine and manufactured the batteries, says Malin Strandberg from Falun who is studying the third year at the Master Programme in Sustainable Energy Engineering.

– The drone has performed well on tests where it has been relatively stable and we achieve 50 minutes of flight without extra equipment with the home-built batteries and 37 minutes with purchased batteries. It will later become autonomous by connecting equipment for this, in principle plug-and-play, and it is something that is managed via the System and Signal lab at the university, says Adrian Arrosamena Mellgren from Gothenburg who is studying the Master Programme in Sustainable Energy Engineering

Another group had worked with RISE ETC in Piteå with a system for measuring snow loads on solar panels, a technology that is on the rise.

– One problem with solar panels in the north of Sweden is that we have large amounts of snow. The snow is being built up and does not always come off the solar panels, it can be up to a couple of hundred kilos of snow on a larger solar panel. On behalf of RISE, we have built a system for testing solar panels outdoors during a winter. With the system you can find out how much load there is, how the load is distributed and how much the solar panel bends due to the load, says Henrik Eriksson from Uppsala who reads the third year at the MSc in Mechanical Engineering.

During the interview, students are testing the system by standing on the solar panel. On a screen next to the panel, they can directly see what weight the panel is exposed to and how the distribution takes place.

– On our life test here where we stand there are four load cells that measure the weight. The purpose is that the manufacturers should be able to get information about how solar panels should be designed and to be able to make recommendations on how much snow that need to be removed during the winter. What I personally thought was most fun with the project is that I have been programming which is something I like. One lesson I take with me is that a project of this type always takes longer than you think and we have been working intensively at the end, says Henrik Eriksson.

Among the exhibitors, there was also a group that had worked on developing more efficient outdoor kitchens.

– We have worked on behalf of the company Primus, which manufactures outdoor kitchens by improving the efficiency of their pots. We have developed a few technical solutions that make the heat transfer to the water more efficient. What I think has been most fun with the project is to have been able to work with the entire product development process, from idea to finished prototype, says André Selander from Timrå, who is studying the third year at the MSc program in Sustainable Energy Engineering.