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. Its headquarters is an award-winning, energy-efficient, solar-powered mobile house. A new 6 kW wind turbine, valued at more than $25,000 and donated by OGW Energy Resources of Tipp City, will boost alternative-energy research and educational opportunities.
“We envision the Energy Experience Center to eventually be a showcase of best-in-class technologies in energy generation, storage, controls, efficiency, cybersecurity, monitoring and load management,” said Eric Lang, a senior research scientist in UDRI’s Energy and Power division. “The generous donation by OGW will play an important role in helping us reach that goal.
The new turbine will be installed at the EEC electrical microgrid, opened in 2017 to serve as a test bed, demonstration and training facility for new and emerging energy technologies.
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 EEC 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. 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.
“Safely simulating conditions such as blackouts 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.”
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 instructional and research resource for University of Dayton faculty and students — a significant reason for OGW’s donation of the turbine, said OGW President Ray Davis, one of three working partners at the 11-year-old renewable and sustainable energy development company.
Since its inception, OGW Energy Resources has regularly donated product, time and talent to educational institutions, churches and charities, Davis said. “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.”