Carl Woodard

The Idea/Solution:

Carl’s challenge solution is a microcontroller named Auto-Stat that uses users’ GPS location to manage the energy consumption of their home air-conditioning unit. The low-cost design of Auto-Stat provides users with a low-level investment with a quick return through simple energy waste elimination and illustrates total savings to incentivize its use. 


Click here to see Carl’s idea

Status and Next Steps:

    Because of the success of the project, Carl was offered a position at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden Colorado. His work at NREL focused thermal energy storage through the use of phase change materials (PCMs). These PCMs have specific melting/freezing points that allow them to take advantage of the sharp increase in heat capacity that occurs during melting/freezing. To make use of the PCMs’ advantages, the material is impregnated into a porous expanded graphite (EG) matrix that improves thermal conductivity. Carl’s work on this project involved executing and improving test procedures used to quantify various properties of the EG/PCM matrices and to optimize use of various additives for maximum performance.