Ideal School Student Lydia Taylor Headed To The State Science Fair

Ideal School student Lydia Taylor with her award-winning science fair project.

Lydia Taylor, an eighth grader from the Ideal School in Royal Palm Beach, will be heading to the Florida Science & Engineering Fair this month after winning first place in the Palm Beach Regional Junior Division in Engineering for her project “Using Waste Thermal Air Flows to Improve Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Operating Efficiencies.” Taylor’s project addresses the growing need to develop engineering solutions to conserve energy and battle climate change.

Taylor noticed that on a warm day, her swimming pool heat pump expelled ice-cold air into the atmosphere. She hadn’t thought about how a pool heat pump worked, transferring atmospheric heat into the water as it “pumps cold out” of the water into the atmosphere. It struck her how strange and wasteful it seemed, blowing cold air into the atmosphere on a hot day. There are hundreds of thousands of heated pools in Florida operating in this way, pumping refrigerated air into the atmosphere. Taylor’s project provides an alternative option for this wasted air. Using a ductwork apparatus, it redirects the otherwise wasted cold air expelled from swimming pool heat pumps into the home and onto the coils of nearby air conditioners instead. The result is the conservation of otherwise wasted energy. The value of the captured cold air represented 70 percent of the energy used to heat the pool.

Along with winning first place, Taylor also won three special awards: The NASA Earth System Science Project Award, which recognizes a student whose project offers the greatest insight into Earth’s interconnected systems; the Ricoh Sustainable Development Award, presented to a student whose research has demonstrated the principles and technical innovations that offer the greatest potential for sustainable development; and the Pollution Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach Award.