Friday, August 19, 2011

Seventh Grader Solves Solar Power Problem

The "Tree" vs the Flat Panel
13-Year-Old Uses Fibonacci Sequence For Solar Power Breakthrough
"I designed and built my own test model, copying the Fibonacci pattern of an oak tree. I studied my results with the compass tool and figured out the branch angles. The pattern was about 137 degrees and the Fibonacci sequence was 2/5. Then I built a model using this pattern from PVC tubing. In place of leaves, I used PV solar panels hooked up in series that produced up to 1/2 volt, so the peak output of the model was 5 volts. The entire design copied the pattern of an oak tree as closely as possible. ... The Fibonacci tree design performed better than the flat-panel model. The tree design made 20% more electricity and collected 2 1/2 more hours of sunlight during the day. But the most interesting results were in December, when the Sun was at its lowest point in the sky. The tree design made 50% more electricity, and the collection time of sunlight was up to 50% longer!"
He won a Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History and has obtained a a provisional patent on the design.  

Tree's have millions of years of evolution towards allowing them to collect as much light energy as possible with a minimum amount of materials.  A reminder that  nature has solved any number of problems, and we would be wise to stop and look around once in while.

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