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Oklahoma State University

Students bring innovative, renewable Off-Grid Box™ to United States, OSU

Tue, April 16, 2013

Oklahoma State University’s student-led organization Sustainability, Energy, and Resources Collaborative (SERC) is responsible for bringing to the United States and OSU the first ever Off-Grid Box™, an onsite renewable energy and water harvesting system.         

The innovative system arrived on campus Tuesday and will be on display in the parking lot east of the Classroom Building through April 19 on the Stillwater campus. It will be on display during OSU’s Earth Week (April 15-19) before it begins a campus tour for numerous research projects. 

The Off-Grid Box™ is an innovation of construction, design and living. It houses all things necessary to run a home – water, gas, plumbing, electricity and heat – with a focus on clean energy. When connected to a house, the Off-Grid Box™ creates a completely self-sufficient secure structure, with no utility payments. It can be off-grid or partially grid-tied to reduce the energy base load.

The project is in conjunction with OSU’s Wake Up and Dream project, an effort led by the Institute for Creativity and Innovation in the Spears School of Business, encouraging students, faculty and staff to advance to sustainability awareness, research and curriculum.

“You own your home, why not own your electricity, water and everything else you need to be self-sufficient?” said Michael Solomon, president of SERC, a senior engineering major. “The system is created to tie into what people would like to be, which is more independent, more sustainable, and self-reliant, giving consumers more control of their energy use, consumption and even production.”

SERC is hoping to expose thousands of people to the on-site generation of energy and purified water while experiencing the challenges of coordinating interdisciplinary projects.

The Off-Grid Box™ is designed, developed and patented by Italian company La Fabbrica del Sole (La FdS), an energy management and installations company.

“The Off-Grid Box™ acts as a command and control center that harvests every available energy resource on a given site with solar and thermal panels, can also tie it into a geo-thermal exchange for heating and cooling, storage, water treatments,” said David Grantham, La FdS North America International Business Development Officer based in Oklahoma.

“This collaboration enables us to make a scientific and technological contribution to the development of a green environment, utilizing natural resources on OSU’s campus,” said Emiliano Cecchini, President of FdS, who made the trip to Stillwater to oversee the installation of the first Off-Grid Box™ in North America.

La FdS NA is in communications with Oklahoma-based manufactures to produce the complete Off-Grid Box™ in Oklahoma.

Agriculturally, the system is used to capture rainwater, measuring and processing out any pollutants, like heavy metals, to make the water more available for irrigation and farming, while being powered by solar energy.

The Off-Grid Box™ is a partnership between OSU and FdS, the Institute for Creativity and Innovation, and the School of Entrepreneurship at the Spears School of Business. SERC is an interdisciplinary collaboration between students majoring in business, architecture, engineering, and arts and sciences, sponsored and advised by Melanie Page, the director of the Institute for Creativity and Innovation, and Joshua Ramsey, assistant professor in OSU’s chemical engineering department.

In the fall of 2014 Khaled Mansy in the School of Architecture plans to design a high-performance cottage to connect to the Off-Grid Box™ when it is placed at its permanent home on campus.

The Off-Grid Box™ is a $30,000 piece of equipment, co-invested by La FsD NA, in-kind donations and student funds. The shipping was paid for by a collaborative effort of fundraising of various departments spearheaded by the students.

Jane Talkington, Riata Fellow, housed in the Institute of Creativity and Innovation, helped the students form the SERC club, and Nizam Najd is the club’s faculty adviser. “Resiliency has been a hot topic in agriculture, planning, city design and disaster relief for the last decade so we are now seeing products that can address those gaps in the market,” said Talkington. “FdS NA was a corporate sponsor of our ecovillage project since its inception in August and they have been instrumental in advancing the conversations with our stakeholders about energy independence and onsite generation of water and energy.”

For more information about SERC, contact Michael Solomon michael.solomon@okstate.edu. For more information about the Off-Grid Box™ contact David Grantham at (405) 474-2225 or info@offgridbox.it or visit http://www.offgridbox.it/ENG/