Hello Grace Community, my name is Julian Honts. My March Madness project was focused on creating an alternative method of energy storage. As you know, we have many forms of energy production in the world. Some examples are: fossil fuels, solar, wind, nuclear, and hydro. A major problem with energy production is that the timing of the production of the energy does not precisely match the need for energy. This is particularly true for green energy sources such as solar and wind. Given that timing mismatch, there is a need to store energy. The most common form of energy storage is battery or chemical storage. The problem with battery storage is that batteries require a limited supply of minerals from the ground. They are not easily recyclable and are often just discarded out of convenience, creating waste. And, batteries need to be replaced over time even if they are rechargeable.
Another way of storing energy is to use the energy to raise a mass and hold it at elevation. Then, when energy is needed, the mass can be released in order to generate energy. Throughout the school year and during March Madness, I designed and built an energy vault to demonstrate the harnessing and use of potential and kinetic energy. This Energy Vault that I built consists of two pulley systems that have seperate designs and functions. The first pulley system uses solar power to raise a mass to create potential energy. The second pulley system lowers the same object to generate kinetic energy that is used to power a light bulb.
The entire process has taught me to appreciate the challenge of building a proof of concept model. When I first outlined what I wanted to do, I thought it would be a simple task that wouldn’t take long. But, I soon realized I was wrong. The main challenge I encountered was trying to work with electricity and power generation, a field I knew little about. While the process was challenging, I got a sense of accomplishment by making the system work, and by demonstrating its potential utility in real life.