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IIT Installs Chicago’s First Advanced Wind Turbine

University-Led Wind Research Consortium funded by U.S. Department of Energy to Optimize Wind Power
Chicago, IL — July 20, 2011 —

Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) celebrated the installation of Chicago's first research-based advanced wind turbine at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today on the university's main campus on the South Side. The small 8kW Viryd turbine is a part of the IIT Wind Energy Consortium, a $9 million, two-year research project managed by the university’s Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and private partners. The consortium is working to help reduce the cost of wind power so that the nation may reach its target of 20% Wind Energy by 2030.

The turbine stands on IIT’s Stuart Field at 31st and Federal Streets and is one of three turbines acquired by the university for research by the consortium. The 8kW Viryd turbine erected today is an advanced design that will serve as a test unit for optimization algorithms gained from stress testing on an identical unit installed in a university laboratory.

The IIT Wind Consortium will also conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony today for its 1.5 MW GE wind turbine located on a wind farm in Marseilles, Illinois. This utility-grade research turbine is operated and maintained by Invenergy, the nation’s largest independent wind power generation company. The turbine is outfitted with high-performance technology designed to increase output and reduce wear and tear on components, which ultimately will increase the lifespan and performance of the equipment.

The technology includes an innovative set of add-on instrumentation, GE Intelligent Platforms, and analytical techniques that can detect emerging wind turbine gearbox and other mechanical problems developed. Other technology includes Catch the Wind's Vindicator© Laser Wind Sensor (LWS), a laser unit that sits atop the nacelle and measures the wind in front of the turbine blades using laser doppler velocimetry technology. Catch the Wind’s turbine performance enhancement system responds to the real-time, actual measurements of the Vindicator® LWS to optimally control a wind turbine’s performance for the purposes of increasing energy output and reducing damaging stress loads. In addition to these instruments, IIT has developed sophisticated phased array acoustic sensors in order to pinpoint acoustic sources on the wind turbine and develop noise reduction technologies.

These projects will be a valuable stepping stone to solve some issues threatening the wind energy industry. “Components have been subject to a large amount of stress,” elaborates Mohammad Shahidehpour, Principal Investigator of the consortium and Bodine Chair Professor at IIT's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “With these advanced technologies, we’re testing how to enhance condition-monitoring precision so wind farms can further improve their abilities to fix problems early and optimize maintenance, thus significantly reducing costs and increasing productivity and efficiency.”

“We congratulate IIT on today’s ribbon-cutting,” said Michael Polsky, Invenergy’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Invenergy is proud to partner with this research team to identify solutions for optimizing wind power generation.”

Published in 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy’s “20% Wind Energy by 2030” report outlines the projected impacts of an increase in wind energy generation. A higher wind energy level has the potential to create American jobs, reduce fuel prices and stabilize electricity rates, create an income source for rural landowners, and lower air pollution.

The consortium is only one of the projects managed by the IIT Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation aimed at pursuing groundbreaking work in the generation, transmission, distribution, management and consumption of electricity. For more information about this or other projects, visit www.iit.edu/galvin_center.

Watch video of the ribbon-cutting ceremony

View photos of the wind turbine

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