MEPP - Future of Power

During the Spring Semester at Weber State University (WSU) the Mobile Elemental Power Plant (MEPP) was finally completed after three semesters of hard work and effort. 

It took over twenty individuals from four distinct disciplines within the College of Applied Science and Technology (COAST) to complete it. 

“The idea is to have a power generation station that you can take off the grid and provide power to run communications equipment, radios, medical equipment, just everyday items,” Brian Gray, an electronics engineering technology senior and the project lead, said. 

Made of four rechargeable twelvevolt batteries that are supplied power through solar panels, a water turbine, and a retractable thirty-foot-tall wind turbine, the device has the capability of powering a 1,200 square-foot home for one day(6-7 kilowatt hours of power usage per day). 

All of the parts were designed, built, manufactured, and machined by students. 

Brian Gray said, “If a person is resourceful with consumption and enough natural energy is available, the MEPP would have the capacity to run indefinitely”. 

Future plans for the MEPP include integrating it into engineering technology courses at WSU in an effort to increase students’ knowledge of renewable energy. 

“I think we envision using it and maybe even marketing it out into the private sector,” Gray said. “This would be something very useful to first responders, disaster preparedness people, third-world countries even that don’t have an available power grid.” 

However, Gray noted that the MEPP cannot presently compete with coal and oil in terms of cost. 

“But if it ever got picked up by a commercial manufacturing company, costs could be reduced, and it might be affordable,” he said. 

“Our department has never before attempted a single project involving so many students. The Mobile Elemental Power Plant utilized the skills and abilities of students from all the programs in the Engineering Technology Department, including Mechanical, Manufacturing, Design, and Electronics, for a total of 26 students and 4 advisors. 

Initially, the number of students in the project seemed to be a detriment to the progress with so many students wanting to ensure their particular ideas were incorporated into the design. However, the students did learn to compromise and work together. That helped move the project forward. When the budget became a major concern, the students found additional funding sources that allowed them to design and build the system to the required specifications. 

In the end, the students performed at a very professional level and successfully completed the project in time for the NCUR presentations at Weber State University and also conducted several tests before and after their final presentations to the Engineering Technology faculty.” ~Kelly Harward