Alternative energy laboratory experiences have been developed to help support a new Green Concentration recently offered for the first time in the mechanical engineering program at Western New England College. These laboratories, which give students hands-on experience and a better understanding of basic concepts in wind energy, solar energy, and fuel cell technology, utilize an improved Alternative Energy Active Learning Platform, as well as newly developed indoor/outdoor Alternative Energy Laboratory facilities. The alternative energy indoor/outdoor laboratory facility includes six 195 Watt photovoltaic panels, a 30,000 Btu/clear day flat-plate solar collectors, a Thermomax evacuated tubes solar collector, as well as a full scale 1 kW wind turbine, whose scale allows for useful power and heat to be provided to the engineering building. This facility will be fully instrumented for the collection of key performance data and allows for large scale demonstration of alternative energy systems to students. Additionally, the improved Alternative Energy Active Learning Platform, which uses wind and solar energy to power an electrolyzer, which disassociates water into hydrogen and oxygen, and then subsequently uses the hydrogen and oxygen produced within a fuel cell to power a fan, has been automated to allow better visualization of each system in operation and more efficient data collection. This paper describes the development, operation and capabilities of both the new indoor/outdoor Alternative Energy Laboratory facilities, and the improved Alternative Energy Active Learning Platform, and their utilization within the Green Concentration of the undergraduate mechanical engineering program.

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