An interdisciplinary team of Princeton University students have been awarded top honors, along with 14 other collegiate teams, for their ‘Power in a Box’ invention that converted a standard shipping container into a sustainable source of energy for remote or disaster-torn regions. The 18-month national competition, known as the “P3: People, Prosperity and the Plant Student Design Competition for Sustainability”, began in the fall of 2010 with 165 competitor and culminated April 21 and 22 on the Washington, D.C. Mall. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency has awarded the students with a $90,000 grant to further develop and implement their project. Continue reading for more information on ‘Power in a Box’.
Inspiration for the project came just after the devastating Haiti earthquake in January 2010, which left many people in need of electrical power and water. Since, approximately 20 students have collaborated to design and complete the project in the “Engineering Projects in Community Service” (EPICS) course instituted by the University’s Keller Center. This course combines a variety of students, from different class years and majors, to focus on helping local and global communities. The students submission was hauled from Princeton to Washington DC on a flatbed truck. It is designed to replace diesel-powered generators in areas cut off from other power sources with a modified shipping container equipped with solar panels and a 40-foot-tall wind turbine.
Once in Washington, the judges were able to witness the project successful produce energy with both systems. On the first day of the event, the weather was “sunny and still”, allowing the ‘Power in a Box’ generate its energy via solar panels. The following day turned “windy and rainy”, giving the students the opportunity to raise their tower and successful activate the wind turbine. With the EPA’s generous grant, the students will now focus on creating a more powerful version of the equipment, capable of generating one to two kilowatts of power, and prepare for a tour in Africa. For more information on the project, check out Princeton University’s original article “With ‘Power in a Box’, Princeton students win national competition” by Steven Schultz. Photos courtesy of Princeton University.