Donation of a new wind turbine will boost alternative-energy research and educational opportunities at the University of Dayton Research Institute’s (UDRI‘s) Energy Experience Center (EEC).
The 6-kW turbine, valued at more than $25,000, was donated by OGW Energy Resources of Tipp City, OH. It will be installed in UDRI’s EEC electrical microgrid, opened in 2017 to serve as a test bed and demonstration and training facility for new and emerging energy technologies.
Located on the grounds of UD’s River Campus, the 25,000-square-foot Energy Experience Center features two wind turbines, solar panels, a portable generator, AC motor control centers, and advanced batteries for energy storage.
“We envision the Energy Experience Center to eventually be a showcase of best-in-class technologies in energy generation, storage, controls, efficiency, cyber-security, monitoring, and load management,” said Eric Lang, a senior research scientist in UDRI’s Energy Technologies and Materials division. “The generous donation by OGW will play an important role in helping us reach that goal.”
The Energy Experience Center microgrid is designed to generate its own power, and advanced batteries will collect and store extra energy produced by solar panels and wind turbines to provide DC power when sun and wind are scarce. The center also features a dedicated connection to the local Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) commercial grid, which supplies electricity for tests requiring extra power. The center also feeds power back to the DP&L grid when its various generators are producing more power than is being consumed by the center.
“The future will bring a major shift in the way power is supplied,” Lang said. “The energy industry and military communities, along with individual consumers, are increasingly looking to adopt newer, more efficient, and sustainable energy technologies. We’re also going to see energy increasingly supplied through distributed generation, where power is produced and stored in microgrids close to the site of consumption, and decreasingly from conventional centralized power stations. The development of resilient energy sources and technologies that can help ensure grid stability in harsh environments is more important than ever. Our goal is to provide the research, development, and technology validation to help our customers achieve those goals.”
Lang said the EEC will use advanced computer programs and hardware to simulate a variety of weather conditions, energy scenarios, and power sources (such as solar and wind) when they’re not available. Simulations at the EEC will also allow researchers to run critical tests — initiating a complete power failure, for instance — without actually interrupting operations at a functioning grid.
Lang said the new wind turbine will be used in research, development, and teaching related to advanced electrical power-conversion technology. Researchers will connect a variable-speed electric motor to drive the turbine — rather than relying on unpredictable Ohio weather — to produce precisely controlled weather scenarios and feed the resulting power into the grid through various conversion devices.
In addition to providing research and development services for customers, the Energy Experience Center will eventually serve as an educational resource for University of Dayton faculty and students for classes and research — a significant reason for OGW’s donation of the turbine, said OGW President Ray Davis.
“The donation of this turbine will provide opportunities for UD students to engage in education and research in technologies that will address real world challenges,” Davis said. “And because of our deep roots in the community and with UD, this donation is special because one of our partners is an alumnus, and another has three children who are currently attending or alumni. We’re proud to lead the way in the renewable- and sustainable-energy industry and will continue to support organizations like the University of Dayton throughout Ohio and the Midwest.”