A new wind turbine, donated by OGW Energy, will boost alternative-energy research and educational opportunities at the University of Dayton Research Institute's Energy Experience Center. The 6 kW turbine, valued at more than $25,000, will be installed in UDRI's EEC electrical microgrid, opened in 2017 to serve as a test bed, 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."
Microgrids are small, self-contained energy storage and generation facilities designed to supply power to end users nearby. They can be connected to one of the major commercial grids that currently supply energy to most of the nation, but they can also operate independently if the larger grid is compromised. Microgrids often incorporate sustainable and energy efficient sources of power, such as solar and wind.
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 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. 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.