A Vancouver teenager has advanced to the next round of an international Google science competition with his project on generating renewable energy from the weather.
Raymond Wang, a Grade 8 student at St. George’s School, was selected as one of 90 regional age-group finalists in the Google Science Fair 2012 contest.
The online competition, which attracted thousands of entries this year, encourages students from ages 13-18 to use science to explore global problems like pollution and disease.
Wang’s project tackled the energy crisis and the need for more sources of renewable energy. He investigated how homes outfitted with special technology could tap in to the energy that drives elements like precipitation and wind.
In a YouTube video on his “Weather Harvester” project, Wang says the sound of rain falling on his roof inspired the idea.
“Since the impact of rain produced sounds that were loud for me to hear indoors, it must contain significant amounts of energy,” he says. “What if I could collect this energy and turn it into electricity?”
To demonstrate the concept, he created a small, model roof made of an impact-sensitive piezoelectric material. When a force presses down on the flexible, waterproofed material, it can generate an electric charge.
In a series of tests, Wang exposed the roof surface to falling rain, snow, hail, and wind. He then measured the system’s ability to gather and store electrical energy created by the impact of the elements.
“The Weather Harvester takes the kinetic and potential energy of wind and falling precipitation and turns it into useable electricity stored on a capacitor,” he says in the YouTube video.
“Results proved the innovation feasible under a variety of weather conditions.”
Finalists in the Google Science Fair 2012 contest are to be announced on June 6. The grand prize includes a trip around the Galapagos Islands onboard a National Geographic expedition ship.
Check out a video about Wang's project here: