CWRU raises wind-energy labs over Cleveland area

April 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Case
Western Reserve University and its partners have erected their third and
largest research wind turbine — and begun the process of tying into the grid.

The
1-megawatt turbine, which will sit 230 feet above William Sopko Sons Co.,
near the I-90-Rt. 2 split in Euclid, is a utility-scale power generator. The
company is one of the university’s industrial partners in wind research and
made the property available.

The
mid-sized research turbine erected on the same parcel and the smallest, on the
Case Western Reserve campus, are already providing power.  

After
initial studies of their operation, all three will be used as working
laboratories available to researchers at non-profit organizations and
for-profit companies, eliminating the large expense of having to buy or build
their own turbines.

The
overall goal is to develop better products, from nuts and bolts on up to new
technologies to manage the turbines and improve efficiency and longevity, and
thereby establish a wind-energy supply chain in Northeast Ohio.

Researchers
can gain access to the turbines through the Wind Energy Research and
Commercialization (WERC) Center. The WERC Center is part of the Great Lakes
Energy Institute (GLEI) at CWRU.

“By
having three different sized wind turbines, researchers and companies can
‘right-size’ their efforts, depending on what information the researchers are interested
in and what market the companies are developing products for,” said David
Matthiesen, professor of materials science and engineering at Case Western
Reserve and faculty director of the WERC Center.

The three wind turbines also have a variety of technologies in them, Matthiesen
explained.

The
100-killowatt turbine has a direct drive system and no gearbox in its drive
train. In addition to the swiveling nacelle, which houses the generator, the
pitch of the blades can be changed on the 225-kilowatt turbine to control the
angle to the wind. The 1-megawatt turbine has additional monitoring features to
allow researchers to study how electricity generated by the turbine is
integrated into the power grid.

The
larger turbines are in Euclid, where they complement the surrounding industry.

The
electricity from the 1-megawatt turbine will flow into the adjacent Stamco
Industries plant. Inside the plant, mammoth presses generate up to 3,000 tons
of pressure as they stamp truck wheel rings and other products out of
heavy-gauge steel. Unused power will flow into the grid.

As part
of its commissioning tests, the intermediate turbine is already providing power
to William Sopko Sons’ light manufacturing business of making adapters,
parts and accessories for precision grinders.

The
smallest turbine, a community-rated power generator, provides electricity to
The Veale Convocation, Athletic and Recreation Center. During its first full
year of operation, the turbine generated 58,500 KWH or about 5 percent of the
total used by the center.

The
Ohio-WERC Center is funded with a $3 million Third Frontier Wright Project
award from the Ohio Department of Development and $3 million in support from
the inaugural industrial partners: Cleveland Electric Laboratories, The
Lubrizol Corporation, Parker Hannifin Corporation, Azure Energy LLC, Rockwell
Automation, Inc., Swiger Coil Systems LLC, and William Sopko Sons Co.

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