EMP Protected Solar Array

Abstract PDF: 

Cost, life, and reliability of solar cells has greatly improved in recent years. Burr Oak Tool Inc., the team’s sponsor, asked team Solar Oak to produce a scalable Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) protected solar array, which can operate when the city power grid isn’t functioning. EMP events can be caused by lightning, solar flares, and nuclear explosions, and can be very damaging to power grids. It also needs to be cost effective by paying for its self within its lifetime and it must withstand the harsh weather conditions in Michigan, where Burr Oak Tool Inc. is located.

Solar Oak designed a lightweight aluminum channel frame, with a layer of aluminum wire mesh attached to the top and bottom of the frame. This completely surrounds the panel in a Faraday cage, providing excellent EMP protection while still allowing enough sunlight to reach the panel and provide a significant amount of power output.

Michigan has frequent lightning storms which can damage facilities and equipment. By EMP protecting the solar panels placed on Burr Oak’s roof lightning strikes will have a minimal effect on the panel. If a panel were to take a direct hit it would be damaged beyond repair, but the panels surrounding it would be protected and still be able to output power to the facility.

School Year (term): 
Burr Oak Tool
Team Name: 
Solar Oak
Barry Lunt
Team Members: 
Matthew Barnes, Colin Kitchen, Scott Jackson, Rebecca Sutton, Marcus Tanner

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