University of Minnesota-led consortium wins major DOE wind energy award

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MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (10/15/2009) -- U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that the University of Minnesota is among three university-led consortiums that will receive significant funding for wind energy research facilities. The funding is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the research will focus on improving both land-based and offshore wind generation.

The U of M and its collaborators will receive up to $8 million to support research and development programs to improve wind turbine performance and reliability, as well as provide educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in wind energy technologies. Fotis Sotiropoulos, professor in the Institute of Technology and director of the Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory, along with researchers from the Institute of Technology and the University of Minnesota, Morris, are leading the U of M consortium.

The Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE), a signature program of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, convened the consortium and provided significant early-stage research funding in addition to matching funds of more than $500,000 in support of the project. Industrial partners include Barr Engineering, Eaton Corporation, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Luna Innovations, Siemens Energy, 3M and WindLogics, Inc. Additional academic partners include Syracuse University and Dakota County Technical College.

The U of M plans to install a new Siemens 2.3 MW turbine research facility at the University of Minnesota Outreach Research and Education (UMore) Park in Rosemount, Minn., to study novel mechanical power transmission and electric generator systems.  The U of M consortium’s research and development plan includes active and passive flow control strategies to increase energy capture, broaden the operational envelope of the turbine, and reduce structural loads and fatigue. The U of M’s turbine will also be used to analyze turbine wake interaction, wind farm interaction and wind energy efficiencies. 

The educational initiatives include new graduate and undergraduate Web-based course modules, programs specifically focused on wind power technologies and integration with other renewables, and student internships with industrial partners at consortium field sites. Award amounts are subject to final project negotiations.

Read the official DOE press release.