Illinois Institute of Technology to Lead Wind-Energy Research Consortium

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has announced new investments in three university-led wind-energy research facilities that will enhance the United States’ leadership role in testing and producing the most advanced and efficient wind turbines in the world.

The consortium, led by the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), has been selected for up to $8 million to support university research and development programs and will include partners from private industry, state and local governments, and other universities.

Funding is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the research will focus on improving land-based and offshore wind turbine performance and reliability as well as provide career educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in wind-energy technologies. The projects selected support the Obama administration’s focus on increasing clean-energy generation, while supporting the long-term development of a clean-energy work force.

“Wind power has the potential to provide 20 percent of our electricity and create hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Chu said. “We need to position the United States as the clear leader in this industry or watch these high-paying jobs go overseas. The investment we’re making today will help ensure that America has both the talent and the technology we need to compete.”

The IIT-led consortium members will perform focused research on critical wind-energy challenges identified in the “20% Wind Energy by 2030” report, including those related to wind technology challenge, grid system integration and the work force. The university consortium’s research and development plan includes advanced concepts for rotor control and drive train control, robust sensors for blades and advanced aero elastic models to improve wind turbine performance and reliability. The plan has been created under the direction of IIT’s Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research (WISER) and involves the participation of 11 faculty and more than two dozen Ph.D. students at the university.

Chicago is quickly becoming a center for wind-energy research in the United States. The IIT-led wind-energy consortium will work with world-leading, Chicago-based wind-energy developer Invenergy to procure and install a 1.5 megawatt GE wind turbine and perform turbine-reliability studies. The proposed installation site for the GE wind turbine is adjacent to Marseilles, Ill. Invenergy’s experience in deploying large numbers of wind turbines will help the wind consortium conduct world-class wind-energy research and development. The consortium also will work with the small wind turbine manufacturer, Viryd Technologies, to procure and install an 8-kW Viryd wind turbine at IIT campus and deliver the second turbine at one of the IIT’s engineering laboratories to perform turbine reliability studies.

The proximity of IIT’s turbine in Marseilles to an existing wind farm provides an opportunity to study turbine-to-turbine wake interaction, wind farm interaction and wind-energy efficiencies. IIT will develop and offer wind-energy courses addressing the technical, operational, social and environmental aspects of wind energy in consultation with industry. Fellowships will be offered annually to graduate and undergraduate students in wind-energy engineering fields of study.

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