Now showing 1 - 10 of 64
  • Publication
    Economic Analysis of Manufacturing Costs of Pellet Production in the Republic of Ireland Using Non-Woody Biomass
    An economic analysis of a non-woody biomass pelleting process was performed for conditions in the Republic of Ireland. The analysis considered the establishment, harvest, storage and drying costs of the feedstock’s on-farm, together with transportation costs to the processing plant and the costs associated with the pelleting process. Capital and operating costs of the pelleting process were estimated at several plant capacities – 6t / h, 8t / h and 10t / h. The pellet production cost for the base case scenario of 8t / h was 102 / t of pellets produced. By decreasing production capacity to 6t / h an increase in the production cost of 10 / t was experienced while increasing capacity to 10t / h resulted in a decrease of 6 / t in the production cost of pellets. The cost of the raw material is the largest cost component (66%) of the total pellet production cost. Other major cost factors include pelleting and cooling plant (11%), straw grinding plant (10%) and personnel costs (9%). Considering current energy prices the equivalent energy cost of 7 / GJ (excluding profit margins) the potential production of non-woody biomass pellets competes favourably with oil and gas and was found to be economically viable.
  • Publication
    The biosystems engineering design challenge at University College Dublin
    (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 2007-01) ; ; ; ;
    The Biosystems Engineering Design Challenge has recently become an academic module open to all undergraduate students at University College Dublin. The focus of the module is on designing and building a working, bench-scale device that solves a practical problem relevant to Biosystems Engineering. The module provides an opportunity for students to learn about engineering design, project management and teamwork. Enrolled students are split into teams of up to seven and meet an assigned mentor each week during a semester (12 weeks) to solve a specified problem. The objectives thus far have focused on water-driven electricity generation, treatment of greywater from domestic buildings,and biofiltration of malodors from food waste. The assessment criteria include teamwork, minimisation of expenditure, device design, innovation, operational safety, system performance, report writing and appropriate use of biological and recycled materials. External experts evaluate each entry and substantial cash prizes are awarded to the top teams. Students receive individual academic grades based on their contribution. Feedback on the module has been very positive from both inside and outside the University. The most recent developments have been the introduction of an online project journal for each student and the involvement of biosystems engineering graduate students as mentors.
  • Publication
    Autonomous Winter Wheat Variety Selection System
    (Journal of Advanced Agricultural Technologies, 2017-06) ; ;
    Public and private organizations have been investing significant financial and human resources to develop crop varieties suitable for different commercial destinations, regional characteristics and agronomic factors. The high number of variables and consequent complex analysis are factors that make the task of selecting a specific crop variety, that best fulfill the particularities of a given farm, a challenging one. In this scenario, this work proposes a ranking/decision method to deal with the stochastic problem of select a winter wheat variety, taking into account the random factors that influence in the specific decision. The system evaluates the commercial destination, site-specific and agronomic importance of varieties treats, such as resistance to diseases and lodging, to output a list of best winter wheat varieties choices, for a particular situation. The system's accuracy has been verified by experts of crop science, where a number of random outcomes were tested against specialist opinion.
  • Publication
    Performance Accuracy Of Low‐Cost Dynamic Non‐Differential GPS on Articulated Trucks
    (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 2007) ; ;
    The purpose of this study was to evaluate the positional accuracy of dynamic non‐differential global positioning system (Non DGPS) for tracking articulated trucks across the Irish road network. The study was carried out using a Trimble GeoXT handheld GPS unit in the non‐differential mode. The data was logged through Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) ArcPad software. The GPS unit was operated in conjunction with an external magnetic antenna that was fitted to the cab of the articulated truck. The articulated truck was a DAF 95XF model, 4×2 tractor unit with a Fruehauf manufactured tri‐axle curtain side trailer measuring 13.6 m in length and 4.2 m from the ground. Routes were traveled from the east of Ireland to the south and southwest of the country on three separate occasions during August 2005 giving a total of six consecutive routes. Over 50 h of data, totaling approximately 6,000 data points, sampled at 30‐s intervals were recorded. Of these 50 h, over 30 h were recorded as dynamic points totaling approximately 4,000 sampling points. The Horizontal Root Mean Square (HRMS) accuracy was measured at a confidence of 63%. Results ranged from 6.9 m for the Cork 1 route to 3.2 m for the Cork 2 route. With this high level of positional accuracy available, it will be more than adequate to use low‐cost non‐differential GPS to track position and movement of timber trucks across the Irish public road network.
  • Publication
    Enhancing the first year learning experience for Biosystems Engineering students at University College Dublin
    (American Society for Engineering Education, 2010-06) ; ; ; ;
    This paper outlines the development of a problem-based learning module called the Biosystems Engineering Design Challenge. The focus of the module is on designing and building a working, bench-scale device that solves a practical problem relevant to Biosystems Engineering. It provides an early opportunity for students to learn about engineering design, project management and teamwork. The module aligns well with the academic policy of University College Dublin to introduce alternative teaching and learning strategies compared to the conventional lecture. While the original aim of the module was to enhance the learning experience specifically for Biosystems Engineering students, it was considered beneficial to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach by allowing students from a wide variety of programs to participate. Students are split into teams and meet an assigned mentor each week during a 12-week semester to solve a specified problem with several design constraints. The projects thus far have focused on flood barrier construction, water-driven electricity generation, treatment of gray water from domestic buildings, and biofiltration of malodors from food waste. The student groups are formed in the first week when they meet their mentors and learn about the technical design constraints of the project and tips for good teamwork and time management. The second week provides a focus for literature research followed by brainstorming and evaluation of the key design solutions. A self-assessment is made of the teamwork in the sixth week and more guidance is provided on the requirements for the compilation of reports and posters. Weeks eight to ten focus on device assembly while technical performance is evaluated in the penultimate session. A panel of external technical experts visit the University in the final week to meet the students, mentors and faculty and to view a display of the devices and accompanying posters in the main Engineering building. The assessment criteria include teamwork, minimization of expenditure, device design, innovation, operational safety, system performance, project journal submission, report writing, poster presentation and appropriate use of biological and recycled materials. Prizes are awarded to the top teams. Students receive individual academic grades based on their contribution following a review by mentors and faculty at the end of the semester. Mentor assessment of students concentrates on meeting attendance, task completion and participation in the team. Student feedback has been very positive. They like a “hands-on” approach to learning while solving problems within a team environment. Awards for the recognition of teaching excellence have been received from UCD College of Life Sciences and from the American Society for Engineering Education.
  • Publication
    Practical Experience with Woody Biomass in a Down-Draft Gasifier
    (Lifescience Global, 2013-02) ; ;
    Gasification is the cleanest method of obtaining energy from fossil fuels, but with increasing awareness of depleting fossil fuel reserves attention has shifted towards renewable sources of energy. Any carbonaceous material can be gasified to generate high-value end-products from otherwise potentially low-value materials. Gasification can also generate energy from purpose-grown bioenergy crops, and Ireland has an ideal climate to produce woody biomass for energy generation. This update outlines some preliminary results from an investigation into the most suitable woody feedstock for small-scale localised gasification to produce a synthetic gas suitable for use in internal combustion engines. Argentinean- and German-standard wood pellets and Irish-grown willow chips were gasified in a down-draft gasifier. Operation of the gasifier led to the observation that the willow chips bridged within the feedstock hopper which prevented completion of gasification. Implementing a stirring bar in the feedstock hopper prevented bridging and gasification was then successful. Collection of the gas produced during gasification of willow chip was unsuccessful, however gas composition analysis indicates pellets which meet the German-standard are more suitable than Argentinean-standard pellets for use in a down-draft gasifier; work is underway to determine the composition of willow-derived synthetic gas to determine the most suitable feedstock for decentralised gasification by rural communities in Ireland as part of smart farming systems.
  • Publication
    A Feasibility Analysis of Photovoltaic Solar Power for Small Communities in Ireland
    Photovoltaic power generation is one of the cleanest sources for producing renewable energy, however to date its up take on the Irish renewable energy market has been extremely low. Through research carried out on regions where these technologies are widely used and developed, this project investigates the feasibility of using photovoltaic systems to generate power under Irish climatic conditions. This involved a comparative investigation between solar insolation in Ireland and in regions currently using Photovoltaic systems. This projects main aim was to identify if photovoltaic systems were a feasible source of power generation for a sustainable community of 130 eco-friendly homes based on the fact that they are built to B1 energy rating standards. B1 implies an energy use of between 75kwh/m²/yr and 100kwh/m²/yr. Results showed that houses of 140 m² have a PV area requirements ranging from 20 m² - 26 m², while the larger live/work units of 195 m² have an area requirement of 27 m² - 36 m². While the communal solar park has an area requirement of 2665 m² - 3553 m² without spacing, this however will differ when space requirements are calculated to prevent overshadowing. The results obtained prove that such systems are feasible, however may be dependent on governmental support or grants. The installation of such a system would not only provide benefits to the members of this eco-village through production of on-site energy, but also to national legislation relating to reduced CO2 emissions and increases in the percentage share of renewables in gross national electricity consumption. The results suggest that this system could produce between 1431000 - 1908000 kWh per year, enough to sufficiently supply the community, while producing excess energy for three-quarters of the year, while displacing between 283338 - 377784 kg/ CO2/yr.
  • Publication
    Influence of doping on the photoactive properties of magnetron-sputtered titania coatings: Experimental and theoretical study
    (American Physical Society, 2012-09) ; ; ;
    Titanium dioxide (TiO2) thin films, doped with chromium (Cr) and codoped with chromium-carbon (Cr, C) and chromium-nitrogen (Cr, N) of various concentrations, were deposited using magnetron sputtering. Postdeposition thermal treatments were carried out at 450 ◦C for 5 h to change the as-deposited amorphous coatings to their crystalline form. The crystalline phase was found to be dependent on the amount and type of dopant present. Ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) absorption data and band gap energies calculated by spectroscopic ellipsometry showed that, on increasing Cr concentration, a shift of the absorption edge towards visible light and a reduction of the band gap occurred. This was further improved by codoping of Cr with either N or C, with the latter case exhibiting more photo-activity towards visible light. In addition, hybrid density functional theory (DFT) calculations were performed for Cr-, N-. and C-monodoping, together with Cr-C and Cr-N codoping, in both rutile and anatase phases of crystalline titania. Using this method, absorption coefficients and band gaps were determined to explore photo-activity. Very good, semiquantitative agreement was found between the DFT and experimental approaches for these quantities, underlining the key role of state-of-the-art quantum calculations in interpreting and guiding experimental studies of doping in metal oxides.
      568Scopus© Citations 22
  • Publication
    Performance accuracy of real-time GPS asset tracking systems for timber haulage trucks travelling on both internal forest road and public road networks
    (Taylor and Francis, 2009-01) ;
    The GPSTRACK project has arisen as a result of a recommendation in the Forest Industry Transport Group (FITG) Code of Practice for Timber Haulage, which was to 'Encourage closer co-operation between consignors and hauliers to plan routes in a manner which optimizes the economic returns within a legal framework'. The project involved the installation of Bluetree global positioning systems (GPS) asset tracking systems onto two timber haulage trucks: an articulated Iveco Stralis 530 6⋆2 tractor unit with tri-axle road friendly air suspension flatbed trailer with a design gross vehicle weight (dgvw) equal to 44 t and a Scania 124 (400) with a rigid (3 axle) + trailer (3 axle) + crane combination with an equivalent dgvw of 441. This paper discusses the background and use of real-time asset tracking devices in the context of timber haulage in Ireland. Real-time location information is a relatively new concept for Irish applications (less than 5 years), but there is an increasing deployment of the technology into the truck transport sector in Ireland. The goal of this study was to test the accuracy of the recorded GPS locations relative to the underlying travelled route network based on the criteria of: 1) a fixed GPS receiver location, 2) a truck travelling on public routes, and 3) comparing accuracy of public routes to the accuracy of the truck travelling in a more demanding environment such as the internal forest road network. The results analysis calculated the horizontal root mean square (HRMS) 63 percent GPS accuracy of both trucks tracklog on both the public road network and the internal forest road network over a period of 4 weeks which totalled approximately 15,000 GPS data points. The HRMS accuracy values ranged from 2.55 to 2.47 m for the public roads, while the forest road accuracy were approximately 27 m and 41 m for Iveco and Scania, respectively.
  • Publication
    Development of a Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) for Route Costing Calculations within the Irish Timber Haulage Sector
    (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 2008) ; ;
    Since the 1970s, decision support systems (DSS) have become popular as computer technology has developed. A DSS aims to support the solving of specific problems with both human and computer techniques. The purpose of this research was to design and develop a DSS for application to cost and revenue calculations of contracted timber haulage in Ireland. The DSS allows the costs and revenue of timber haulage to be calculated on a daily basis and on a route-specific basis. This implies that the user interface allows certain criteria to be selected, such as truck configuration, truck model, engine size, horsepower, and design gross vehicle weight. Both the revenue and running costs are directly related to the payload weight and the distance traveled. To generate the routes traveled and provide a sophisticated interface for spatial road map information, a Geographic Information System (GIS) was used; ESRI's ArcView 8.3 provides its own application programming in the form of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).