At SENZA, we believe in nurturing the next generation of scientists, engineers, and innovators. That’s why we were proud to sponsor the Bionic Bighorns, a talented group of 10 to 12-year-olds participating in this year’s First Lego League (FLL) competition.
The FLL is a STEM-oriented robotics competition for K-12 students, and this year’s theme was “Energy.” As part of the competition, teams had to research and design an “Innovation Project.” The Bionic Bighorns chose to focus on small-scale hydrogen production for rural communities in developing countries, aligning perfectly with our company’s mission and values.
Throughout the project, the young innovators gained knowledge in chemistry, physics, and engineering while also exploring art and design principles. They even had the opportunity to interact with industry experts and professionals, including our very own specialists.
Teamwork was a critical aspect of the Bionic Bighorns’ success. With regular working sessions and Zoom calls, they supported each other and shared responsibilities. They built Lego models, practiced at home, worked on their presentation poster board, and even created artwork or logs.
The Bionic Bighorns aimed to build a simple and relatively inexpensive microgrid system utilizing solar power to generate electricity and hydrogen. They designed a solution that could provide essential services to rural communities while offering a sustainable alternative.
Key Points of their design:
- The generated electricity can be used to power homes and appliances, creating development opportunities.
- Hydrogen and oxygen come from water, making it easily accessible for approximately 25% of Earth’s rural population living in coastal zones.
- Solar energy is stored in lithium-ion batteries, which can be easily serviced and distributed across the area.
- Hydrogen is stored in large propane-style tanks, compressed by an advanced electrochemical hydrogen compressor, and used as fuel for cooking or heating. It can also be transported to provide a source of income.
- The water is pumped into a PEM electrolyzer, which splits it up into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen can be vented or kept, while the hydrogen continues its processing.
- The real-world design is relatively simple and uses off-the-shelf components, with an estimated cost of $75,000. It can be assembled on-site with a few technicians working alongside local people, and training for system maintenance and minor repairs can be accomplished during setup.
We are incredibly proud of the Bionic Bighorns’ performance in the Northern Nevada regional finals. Their hard work, innovation, and dedication have been truly inspiring, and we’re honored to have played a role in their journey. As a company, we remain committed to supporting educational initiatives that encourage and empower the scientists, engineers, and leaders of tomorrow.