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Sustainability: Action For Change Final Project

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Nicole Munz

on 28 January 2014

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Transcript of Sustainability: Action For Change Final Project

My Action Project
By Nicole Munz
How did I measure the effectiveness of my project?
I began by designing an experiment that would aim to prove that using solar air heaters decreases the amount of heat consumed. In order to achieve this, I measured the input and output temperatures of the vents in each box and used these values to calculate the amount of heat gained by the air.
What system did I choose to affect?
What was my project?
The system that I chose to affect is the heat that is used in my house. My goal is to generate heat from my project that will decrease the amount produced by my oil burner. This will reduce our monthly cost of heating while keeping the amount of heat generated constant.
I built solar air heaters and installed them in my den in order to work towards this goal.
How does my heating system affect natural systems?
My oil-burner uses oil, a non-renewable resource, to heat my house. Carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter are just some of the chemicals that are produced from the combustion of fuel and air. These are emitted from my house by a flue pipe. This waste pollutes the air, which can cause acid rain. Acid rain disrupts the pH balance in ecosystems, which allows many organisms in aquatic ecosystems to survive, so it decreases the overall productivity of natural systems.
What are the inputs and outputs in my heating system?
Oil Burner - produces heat for my house
Waste from the oil burner
There are three vent holes on the top and bottom to let air flow in and out of the box. These holes have string wrapped around
thumbtacks to keep the plastic wrap from blowing in or out of the holes. I took the temperature in these vent holes.
The solar air heaters are made out of sheets of cardboard that I taped together to form a box.
I taped the boxes to the window with masking tape. I also tried
to cover all of the cracks between
them and the window.
I covered the outside of both boxes with aluminum foil to help reflect heat into the room.
The plastic wrap is on the outside of all of these top vents because it allows air to only flow out of the box, and not in.
The plastic wrap is on the inside
of all of these bottom vents
because it allows air to only flow in,
and not out, of the box.
But the most important part is inside the box!
The inside of both boxes is painted black in order to
absorb the sun's energy.
How does it work?
The cold air travels through the bottom vents, heats up inside the box (from the sun's energy), and exits at a higher temperature. This occurs because warm air is less dense then cold air. Therefore, it rises, whereas cold air sinks to the bottom of the box.
I assumed that:
Here's the design
Step 2: Calculate the Gram Formula Mass (GFM) of Air
The GFM of air can be found by using the percent composition by mass formula to calculate the mass of every element or compound in the air.

For example, in order to solve for the mass of , I use this equation:
My Data Table:
How did the window cause such a large difference between the input and output temperatures, and the heat gained by the air in solar air heater 1 and 2?
The window that both of the solar air heaters were attached to has two sliding panels. Therefore, there would have been gaps between the window frame, wall, and window. This would have decreased the air temperature because warm air will escape.
The inside of both boxes is painted black in order to
absorb the sun's energy.
The panel on the right overlaps this one. There is a space between where this occurs. The window is locked, but I can feel colder air in this area. This air would have blown directly into box 1. I believe that this had the most significant effect on the difference in temperature.
The heaters in my den are below the window and behind my couch. Hot air rises, so it would have increased the temperature of the air in both the input and output vents. However, I taped a sheet of cardboard to the window that is between the couch and the wall. This decreased the significance of this error, but the heat would have still escaped and could have affected the input and output temperatures.
Both panels were almost exactly south-facing, but they were slightly south-east. However, this panel was more south-facing than the one on the left. This would have increased box 2's exposure to the sun, which would have increased the output temperatures.
What sources of errors were caused by the boxes and their installation?
The boxes were secured to the window by masking tape. There were some gaps between the window and the box, so air would have been able to escape.
The vent holes were only covered by plastic wrap, so air would have been able to escape when it was not at it's maximum temperature. This would have decreased the output temperatures.
How did I calculate the amount of
heat produced by the solar air heaters with the equation
Q is the heat gained by the air in joules
c is the specific heat of air (1004.831565 J/Kg.K)
The change in temperature is the difference between the input and output values. It is measured in degrees Kelvin.
What are the variables in this equation?
This is the GFM of .
This is the percent of in air.
Once I solve for x, my final answer is:
grams of in air.
I used the equation: Mass of Air (g)= (Moles of Air)(GFM of Air).
Step 5: Calculate the Heat Gained by the Air
Going back to the first equation:
m is the mass of air in kilograms
My final answer was
111.0214443 grams of air
in solar air heater 2 on day 1
Mass of Air (g)= (3.832687 moles)(28.967 g/mole)
I converted this to
0.1110214443 kilograms of air
in solar air heater 2 on day 1.
My final answer was
774.6577217 J of heat gained by the air in solar air heater 2.
Q=(0.1110214443 kilograms)(1004.831565 J/(kg.K))(292.594 K- 285.65 K)
Here is the heat gained by the air from solar air heater 2 on day 1:
Assumptions in My Calculations
I made these assumptions because I knew that the change in pressure (from inside the box to my den) would be very small, as well as the amount of air that escaped from the box.
The volume of the box was the same as the volume of air.
The pressure inside of the room was constant
Step 1: Calculate the Moles of Air
I used the ideal gas equation ( ) to calculate this:
T was the average temperature in Kelvin
R was the gas constant (0.0821)
V was the volume of air in liters
P was the air pressure in atmospheres
n was the number of moles of air
In this equation:
(1 atm)(90.96756 L)=n(0.0821)(289.0944 K)
For example, here are my values for day 1 of solar air heater 2 substituted into the equation:
n= 3.832687 moles
Here is the calculation for solar air heater 2 on day 1:
My Table and Graph of Calculated Values:
The average amount of heat gained by the air in solar air heater 1 was was
652.6072175 J
The average amount of heat gained by the air in solar air heater 2 was
731.9034113 J.

Green is solar air heater 1
Blue is solar air heater 2

This graph compares the cloudiness of the day to the amount of heat gained by the air. It shows how a decrease in cloudiness will increase the amount of heat gained by the air. The opposite is also true.

What could I conclude from this experiment?
My experiment also showed that cloudiness has a significant effect on the amount of heat gained by the air. If I did turn off (or decrease the temperature) of the thermostat, then I would have to be wary of the cloudiness because if it is cloudy outside, then my den would most likely become cold. However, if it was a sunny day, then the solar air heaters would possibly be able to suffice.

Bately, John E. "Air Emissions from Home Oil Burners and Other Sources." N.d. PDF file.
Kirchhoff, Herb. "How to Calculate Furnace Oil Consumption." SF Gate. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Resa, Gary. "Hot Air Collectors - Choosing the Best." Solar Collector Brainstorming and Development.
N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2014. <http://www.n3fjp.com/solar/comparisonhotair/
"DIY Solar Air Heating Collectors: Pop Can vs Screen Absorbers." Build It Solar. N.p., n.d. Web. 27
Jan. 2014. <http://www.builditsolar.com/Experimental/PopCanVsScreen/PopCanVsScreen.htm>.
"Effects of Acid Rain - Surface Waters and Aquatic Animals." US Environmental Protection Agency. US
Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2014. <http://www.epa.gov/acidrain/
"Greenhouse Gas Emissions Baseline Inventory of Municipal Facilities and Activities in the Village
of Croton-on-Hudson, New York for Calendar Year 2007." N.d. PDF file.
"How Does an Oil-Fired Heating System Work?" John Rays & Sons. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
"Solar Energy Science Projects." Energy Quest. US Department of Energy, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Photos were taken by me or prom stock.xchng, which allows images to be used in presentations
Percent Composition by Mass of Air
After adding every mass together, I found the GFM of air to be:
28.967 grams per mole
Step 4: Calculate the Mass of the Air in the Solar Air Heaters
Why did I do this project?
Through extensive research of the solar air heater's ability to cause a large increase in room temperature, I was able to decide which solar air heater design to build. However, the more expensive designs (which were about $130 for the materials) were economical for a family looking to make a long-term change, but they were not for a project.

If I were to build one of these designs, a soda can or screen collector, then the economic and environmental benefits would increase because more money would be saved, and less heat would be produced from my oil burner. However, the solar air heater design that I chose proved how individuals can create more environmentally-friendly forms of energy without sacrificing the amount that is needed. This allows them have a positive effect on themselves and the environment.
As shown in my data table, the amount of heat produced by the solar air heaters had no measurable effect on the temperature of the room. This conclusion does not support my hypothesis, but it does show that the solar air heaters were successful in increasing the air temperature inside the box. If I were to replicate this experiment, I would use another solar air heater design (most likely one with soda cans). I would also turn off the thermostat, and take several readings of the temperature in order to see if the solar air heater could heat the room on it's own.
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