Disasters can be as destructive as Katrina, Harvey, and Dorian leaving thousands of people homeless and vital resources. The number of hurricanes and storms in the last decade have steadily increased in Texas leaving residents without water, electricity, and medical care. Electricity needed for emergency medical equipment is crucial to save victims’ lives. In addition to traditional fossil fuel emergency generators, solar and wind energy based mobile renewable energy systems deployed with high quality and enhanced battery storage units improve disaster relief efforts by providing quiet, reliable, and zero-emission electricity.
This paper introduces design, implementation, operation and testing of a 5.5 kW mobile renewable energy system called mobile renewable response trailer (MRRT) installed in a 20X9 feet trailer for disaster relief efforts in Texas. The MRRT contains a PV array with a rated installed power capacity of 4.4 kW, 0.3 kW wind turbine, 8x100 Ah deep-cycle battery capacity, a 1.5 kW additional emergency gas-generator, and an additional 3x1500 VA Back-UPS Pro Unit Uninterruptable Power System that will provide approximately a continuous peak power of 5 kW for 3 days without any charging. The funding for project was provided by a local energy company to promote Environmental initiatives for cleaner energy efforts. The MRRT is towed behind a truck and ready to be delivered to disaster-struck regions to help with the immediate needs of residents by providing emergency power including lighting, charging stations for cell phones, small tools, lifesaving medical instruments, small power equipment, Wi-Fi, and satellite services.
There are two objectives of this applied research project; (1) to provide emergency electricity for lighting, lifesaving medical equipment, and refrigeration for prescription medication to the victims of disasters in very warm and humid environments, and (2) to help underprivileged high school students and teachers at rural Independent School Districts (ISDs) to be able to access renewable energy based mobile trailer to learn hands-on energy education. The MRRT is currently being towed to multiple ISDs including rural high schools in South Texas where students and teachers excel their knowledge of energy, environmental stewardship, and storm management by hands-on learning. The U.S. Department of Education identified energy education as a priority area for the nation. In order to compete in a global society, American children need to learn more energy concepts, yet rural ISDs have few resources to help them in this endeavor. Therefore, the MRRT project will help both students and STEM teachers to increase their awareness on both engineering technology and energy education.
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