Mike Zhang is thinking for the future. His energy research may be the ingredient the world needs to sustain many issues that have popped up in recent years.
"It focuses on finding renewable sources of energy from places you'd least expect it," he said, describing the project that placed him second at the iSweeep Project Olympiad in Houston this past April.
Zhang, 17, of Holtsville, recently graduated from Sachem High School East and will embark on the next phase of his life as a business major at Hofstra University. His project, titled "The application of the Curie effect, Stirling engine effect and Seebeck effect to harness energy from waste heat," originally began as a simple idea to help developing third world countries and their energy deficiencies.
"It helps to solve a broad range of problems across a large spectrum," he said. "It would help save money for a lot of countries across the world. It combines a fair amount of aerodynamic principles of heat based sciences."
ISweeep is the International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering and Environment) Project Olympiad open to middle and high school students from around the world. At this year's competition, which Zhang entered in the energy category, there were students from 70 countries and 44 states.
His project, which he tested on a mock industrial set up with three engines and a beacon of water heated by a hot plate, centers around waste heat.
"It's aimed to create a bridge of present technologies, so we can continue to burn fuels," he said. "If we used these principles and apply them to waste heat generated by factories and some applications of geothermal heat like volcanoes then you can see the advantage of my method. It's all economically feasible, cheap to maintain and readily available material can be used."
Zhang said none of the research is theoretical and has been proven on a small scale in the past. American automakers have tried similar engagements with fossil fuels, but since there was an overabundance of oil then, the projects were dropped.
"I just picked up where they left off," he said.
Check Sachem Patch next week for the first installment of our Sachem Patch Sustainable Summer Series - a weekly feature covering various energy issues in the Sachem community.