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Inside a new 25,000-square-foot facility developed by the University of Dayton Research Institute, you'll find a hub for new and emerging energy technologies.
The Energy Experience Center is a high-tech test bed, development and training facility, designed to generate its own power. Industrial batteries collect and store extra energy produced by solar panels and wind turbines to provide DC power when sun and wind are scarce. And the control center? It's an award-winning, energy-efficient, solar-powered mobile house.
“We even plan to offer how-to classes to electricians, homeowners and others who want to learn how to work in advanced and alternative energy technologies ...”
Advanced hardware and software at the control center will allow researchers to program a variety of energy scenarios and simulate power sources, such as sun and wind, when they're not available. Simulations will allow researchers to run critical tests — initiating a complete power failure, for instance — without actually interrupting operations at a functioning installation.
"Simulating conditions such as extreme lightning, blackouts and dangerous power levels — but without the real danger — will allow us to see how equipment is impacted, at what point the grid begins to destabilize, and what needs to be done to ensure grid stability," said Eric Lang, a senior research scientist in UDRI's Energy Technologies and Materials division.
Research performed at the Energy Experience Center will also support the Air Force in its quest for cleaner, more affordable and resilient energy technologies for remote installations.
"By the nature of their remote locations, often in harsh or contested environments, forward operating bases rely heavily on power generators fueled by diesel, which has to be delivered by convoy," Lang said. "Employing more efficient and advanced energy technologies at remote sites can significantly reduce the need for diesel, which means fewer service men and women will have to risk potentially hazardous travel by convoy."
In addition to supporting the Air Force's mission to safeguard its troops and reduce its carbon footprint, the Energy Experience Center will be used to train members of the military and energy industry who want to integrate new or better technologies into their products. The center will also serve as an educational resource to UD faculty and students.
"We even plan to offer how-to classes to electricians, homeowners and others who want to learn how to work in advanced and alternative energy technologies, such as solar and wind power, or adopt these alternative energy resources for their own use," said Lang.
Anticipated future phases of the Energy Experience Center include adding research and development in geothermal, hydrogen and other alternative energy sources; electric vehicles; and areas of cybersecurity for grid protection.