September 17, 2012

Student designs custom aerator system to cool ASU pool

Posted: September 17, 2012
Nathan Padron, a College of Technology and Innovation engineering student, designed a custom-made aerator system to cool down the pool at ASU's Polytechnic campus.
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Aside from temperature reduction, the aerator also decreases the growth of algae in the pool significantly.

Faculty at ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) frequently encourage students to create solutions to real-world problems, often taking an idea within the classroom and implementing it throughout the campus or community. That initiative is no different for Nathan Padron, who developed and installed a device that can cool the ASU Polytechnic campus pool nearly 10 degrees.

Padron, an engineering student at CTI, saw a need for a more effective solution to lowering the overall temperature of the pool. In the past, the pool temperature would reach more than 90 degrees during the summer.

Padron, who is also the aquatics and safety education coordinator at the Polytechnic campus, developed a custom-designed pool aerator that uses a vacuum system to circulate water from the pool into the air. The process of pool water interacting with air decreases the overall water temperature.

Because of his study in thermodynamics within his major, Padron was able to identify the effects of heat transfer on mass flow rate.

“A lot of what you learn at CTI is how to take the engineering principles and apply them to real-world projects outside of the classroom,” Padron said. “We are encouraged to incorporate our own interests with what we are learning in class.”

Padron was inspired by other pools around the Valley that implemented a similar system, but he says they weren’t as big as his own design.

“We never had a successful year cooling the pool in the past,” said Jeff Vance, director of Sun Devil Fitness at the Polytechnic campus. “When Nate came to me with a clear methodology of how this system would function, I was convinced that it would actually work this time.”

Past solutions to cool the pool included ice blocks and a sprinkler system.

Aside from temperature reduction, the aerator also decreases the growth of algae in the pool significantly. Vance explains that algae thrives in an environment above 84 degrees. To decrease the amount of algae in a pool, chemicals are necessary along with a decrease in water temperature below 84 degrees.

“Before, we were using a lot of chemicals to keep our pool from being green,” he said. “Because of the aerator, less chemicals are used on the pool and that saves money. ”

The total cost of the aerator was $50. Vance says a commercial aerator can cost up to $2,500.

“It has been the best investment we have made in our pool in seven years,” Vance said.

Padron considers his work ethic a result of both his upbringing and experiences within CTI.

“We are encouraged to fix something if it needs to be fixed,” Padron said. “It is so cool to have that hands-on experience, especially when you see something you designed being built.”

Vance is just one of many at the Polytechnic campus that celebrate students taking the initiative when they see issues on campus.

“We’re giving latitude to students to make decisions,” Vance said. “In turn they take what they learn in the classroom and apply it in a real-world setting."

Written by Sydney Donaldson, College of Technology and Innovation