In a collaborative effort to continue the push for solar powered showers in the Recreation-Fitness Center, a group of students led by John Ross Buschert, professor of physics, met in the basement of Schrock science building on Tuesday.
It was the second official meeting for the solar sunshower collective. According to Buschert, there is hope for the solar powered showers.
“We’re deep into the details of the design,” said Buschert after he announced that the preliminary proposal for the showers passed the approval of the college's ecological stewardship committee.
The next step is for the group to submit their official proposal. In order to accomplish this, the group needs to finish calculating the variables, such as the size of the cistern and the thickness of the piping that will carry the solar heated water.
The group includes the following students: Andrew Buschert, a sophomore; Jacob Brenneman, a senior; Noah Weaverdyck, a sophomore; Steven Cress, a junior; David Wiegner, a sophomore; Isaac Witmer, a senior; Ben Shenk, a first-year; and Jesse Yoder, a senior.
The participating faculty and staff include Buschert, Glenn Gilbert, utilities manager, and Steve Shantz, systems operation technician.
Community members include Jonathan Nafziger and Matthew Rody, who are both 2008 Goshen College graduates.
Buschert had his senior seminar class help determine some of the calculations, including the size of the cistern. “Based on their calculations, my initial thoughts were confirmed,” said Buschert.
The cistern, which is the holding tank for the water before it is pumped into the Rec-Fit Center, will be about 12 feet deep in the ground, which is comparable to the depth of the pending railroad underpass.
Over winter break, the group conducted an experiment. Shantz thought one option might be to heat water with a device the Amish use to heat their houses. The Amish put water into metal pipes that rest side-by-side and heat the pipes with their wooden stoves. “It’s essentially like a radiator,” Bushert said.
The plan was to submerge the contraption into the hot tub in the Rec-Fit Center and pump 55 degree water from outside into the device with hopes that hotter water would be pumped back out after being warmed by the 104 degree hot tub water.
“It worked instantly, and we were getting 95 degree water coming out the other end,” Buschert said. However, the contraption also cooled the hot tub water down. The plan was scrapped.
Buschert anticipates the project will be approved and complete by next summer.
The main obstacle for the project will be the cost, but the group plans to have half of the cost paid by the state from a federal grant program. The other half of the cost – about $20,000 – be left for the college.
According to Buschert, the benefits of the showers would exceed the cost. “It’s an upfront cost,” Buschert said. “It’s not an ongoing financial commitment. If we build it, it’s done. This is different from some projects at Goshen College that involve constant supervision and ongoing efforts.”
The group of faculty, student and community members hopes their project may be eligible for financial aid from President Obama's new stimulus package.
“It qualifies as an educational component,” said Buschert.