Wind Energy Legacy

[Image] model turbines stand in a wind tunnel, surrounded by tape and wires
Model turbines are equipped with sensors in the UI’s new wind tunnel.
Iowa NSF EPSCoR’s researchers applied advanced engineering principles in fluid dynamics, machine design, and control theory to improve the reliability of wind turbines, which are subject to highly variable and sometimes destructive operating environments.

Accomplishments

[Photo] Tall Tower
ISU Agronomy students install sensors at the base of meteorological “tall tower.”
The construction of tall towers allows better sensor placement and understanding of wind speed, turbulence, wake interactions and other measurements at hub height.Development of the framework for a GIS web-based wind energy decision support system that aids in both state-level and local-level wind turbine siting has led to greater understanding of land cover’s affect on wind power potential.Research into how to reduce turbine performance losses due to wake effects also resulted in a deeper understanding of turbine noise.

A novel dual rotor wind turbine model was designed to decrease wake losses.

Recirculating wind tunnel built and tested for scale and wake interaction accuracy.

Mapping soil moisture increased understanding of how turbine wakes affect surrounding crop performance.

[Image] Front page of wind energy brochure
Iowa NSF EPSCoR’s wind energy publication.
A new model of turbine blade damage from lightning that shows the interaction between a lightning channel and a composite structure was applied to a damaged blade.Reliability analysis of turbine blade fatigue and drivetrain dynamics, and gearbox failure resulted in better understanding of design optimization variables and cost constraints.Novel manufacturing and repair processes involving laser cutting, fusion, and peening were developed to reduce the cost of repairing turbine components.

Developed novel control techniques and models to better integrate wind into the electric grid.

Sustainability

Continued collaborations with wind industry partners, wind farm land owners, and multi-national wind energy research teams.

[Image] blue, red, and black diagram of circular blade motion
Diagram of turbine blade spiral motion.
The dual rotor wind turbine model continues to be tested.More mapping is planned to further characterize the relationship between turbines and surrounding crops.Models of wind turbine damage will continue to be developed, including how damage propagates due to combined mechanical, electromagnetic, and thermal loads.

Recirculating wind tunnel will continue to be used for investigating wind flow.

The UI Laser Materials Processing Laboratory will continue research into machining, hardening, and peening critical wind turbine components.

Planned expansion of research into risk-averse energy network design, reliability modeling, failure diagnosis and prognosis for complex energy systems.

Professional Development

Click on a person to read about the role these researchers played in Iowa NSF EPSCoR and how the program helped develop their careers and further their research.

  • P. Barry Butler
    Provost and Professor, Mechanical Engineering
    University of Iowa
    P. Barry Butler
    Provost and Professor, Mechanical Engineering

    As wind energy platform leader, Butler supported all EPSCoR wind energy research in Iowa. He also interacted with community colleges and wind energy companies to grow Iowa universities’ network of partnerships in wind energy.

    Butler was appointed provost of the University of Iowa May 2011. He is active in a number of aerospace-related instructional and research activities at the UI and is a strong supporter of Iowa’s STEM initiative.

  • Soura Dasgupta
    Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences
    University of Iowa
    Soura Dasgupta
    Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences

    Dasgupta led the green energy grids research plank of the wind energy platform. His research investigated how to modernize energy networks to handle sometimes variable wind energy input.

  • K. K. Choi
    Carver Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences
    University of Iowa
    K. K. Choi
    Carver Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences

    Choi’s Iowa NSF EPSCoR research modeled wind turbines for better reliability. Specifically, Choi was plank leader for drivetrain design and optimization.

  • Ganesh Rajagopalan
    Professor, Aerospace Engineering
    Iowa State University
    Ganesh Rajagopalan
    Professor, Aerospace Engineering

    Rajagopalan’s research investigates the aerodynamics of wind turbines and wind energy conversion systems. He served as plank leader for blade performance and reliability.

  • Gene Takle
    Professor, Atmospheric Science, Agricultural Meteorology
    Iowa State University
    Gene Takle
    Professor, Atmospheric Science, Agricultural Meteorology

    Gene Takle is director of the Iowa State Climate Science Program. His research involves climate modeling and high performance computing.

    For Iowa NSF EPSCoR, Takle served as leader for the resource characterization plank. His inquiries considered micro-climate effects on, from, and within wind farms.  

  • James Buchholz
    Associate Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
    University of Iowa
    James Buchholz
    Associate Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

    For Iowa NSF EPSCoR Buchholz explored the unsteady aerodynamics of wind turbine airflows. His broader IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering program includes unsteady flows in a variety of air and fluid contexts.

  • Pablo Carrica
    Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
    University of Iowa
    Pablo Carrica
    Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

    For Iowa NSF EPSCoR Carrica modeled the airflow around wind turbines. His broader research agenda includes characterization of bubbly flow dynamics in a variety of fluid contexts.

  • Yong Chen
    Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
    University of Iowa
    Yong Chen
    Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

    Chen helped lead a team in investigating smart grids for centralized wind energy production for Iowa NSF EPSCoR. His research interests include the reliability of sensing systems for a variety of contexts as well as creating robust quality monitoring and fault diagnosis algorithms.

  • Hongtao Ding
    Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
    University of Iowa
    Hongtao Ding
    Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

    Ding performs research about laser-manufacturing techniques to repair composite wind turbine blades.

    Iowa NSF EPSCoR helped Ding develop a laser research lab. He later received an additional $300,000 grant from NSF to continue his research and examine other applications.

  • Baskar Ganapathysubramanian
    Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering
    Iowa State University
    Baskar Ganapathysubramanian
    Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

    Ganapathysubramanian leads a curiosity-driven research group that specializes in computational science and engineering. This research group has two parts – developing novel techniques and applying those methods to solve energy-related problems.

    Ganapathysubramanian worked with both the wind energy and energy utilization platforms. His research helped translate and compress wind and flux measurements from wind turbines to create models that provide location, season, and diurnal variations.

  • Raghuraman Mudumbai
    Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
    University of Iowa
    Raghuraman Mudumbai
    Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

    Mudumbai’s research covers energy demand response techniques and green energy grids. He leads the Wireless Research Laboratory with Soura Dasgupta.

  • Andrey Petrov
    Assistant Professor, Geography and Geospatial Technology
    University of Northern Iowa
    Andrey Petrov
    Assistant Professor, Geography and Geospatial Technology

    Petrov used GIS and remote sensing technology to create unique data sets that model existing Iowa wind farms. His research is geared towards creating site-specific decision-making tools for locating turbines on the landscape.

  • Anupam Sharma
    Assistant Professor, Aerospace Engineering
    Iowa State University
    Anupam Sharma
    Assistant Professor, Aerospace Engineering

    Sharma’s research for Iowa NSF EPSCoR looked into the interplay between aerodynamics and machinery noise. He is a Walter W. Wilson Faculty Fellow of Aerospace Engineering and Director of the Iowa State Computational Aerodynamics and Aeroacoustics Lab (ISU CAAL).

  • Hiroyuki Sugiyama
    Associate Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
    University of Iowa
    Hiroyuki Sugiyama
    Associate Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

    Sugiyama’s research interests for Iowa NSF EPSCoR include wind energy drivetrain modeling and simulation. His broader area of research covers vehicle dynamics for a variety of contexts.

  • Andy VanLoocke
    Assistant Professor, Agronomy
    Iowa State University
    Andy VanLoocke
    Assistant Professor, Agronomy

    The primary goal of VanLoocke’s research program is to develop and refine estimates of how ongoing and future changes in land use will affect agro-ecosystems.

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Infrastructure Investments

The Iowa NSF EPSCoR program made substantial investments in infrastructure, both in the laboratory and in the field. This equipment, instruments, computers, etc., help Iowa researchers to conduct new types of research, to achieve results faster and more accurately, ultimately allowing them to continue their research and better compete for future grants. Here are just a few examples.

Click on an image to learn more about the equipment and how it improves research.

  • CNC Laser Cutter
    CNC Laser Cutter

    A laser cutter slices materials such as steel, aluminum, plastics, and wood into precise shapes. CNC stands for computer numerical control, which allows the machine to be run automatically from computer models.

    Models of turbines need a CNC machine to construct their blades. This is because the laser cutter leaves a high-quality edge on even heavy materials, allowing better modeling of airflow around those blades.

  • Computer Servers
    Computer Servers

    High-end computers store, manage, process, and share large amounts of data.

    Used for research into software scheduling techniques, known as demand response, which may help reduce a mismatch between power generation and consumption.

  • Equipped Classroom in the UI Communications Center
    Equipped Classroom in the UI Communications Center

    Classroom was equipped with engineering materials to demonstrate hands-on learning.

    Dedicated teacher training classroom hosts teachers for professional development to learn how to incorporate cutting edge STEM concepts and practices into their pedagogy.

  • Laser Peening Machine
    Laser Peening Machine

    Laser peening uses a high energy, pulsing laser beam to send shock waves through materials. These shockwaves strengthen materials by affecting their micro crystal structures.

    Laser peening was experimentally used to manipulate turbine components in order to make them more resistant to wear and tear.

  • Meteorological Sensors
    Meteorological Sensors

    Sensors were installed near wind turbines that provide live meteorological data.

    The data stream that sensors provide is used to investigate micro-climates that are formed from or impact turbines and wind farms.

  • Miniature Wind Turbine
    Miniature Wind Turbine

    Miniature version of a modern wind turbine that can be run indoors or outdoors.

    The miniature turbine is used to show students the internal parts of a turbine as well as for measuring performance parameters.

  • Mobile Museum
    Mobile Museum

    RV equipped with wind energy materials.

    The Mobile Museum RV travels to local Iowa events to provide outreach, STEM education, and attract interest in UI research. Inclusion of wind energy materials broadened the impact of and increased interest in EPSCoR’s wind energy research.

  • Raw Materials and Small Engines for Model Turbines
    Raw Materials and Small Engines for Model Turbines

    Model wind turbines were built using various materials at a small scale.

    Researchers experimented with different materials to better optimize the results of a wind tunnel

  • Tall Towers
    Tall Towers

    Two, 394 feet tall towers were installed, supported by Iowa NSF EPSCoR. One tower was built within a wind farm and one away from the wind farm to act as a "control."

    The tall towers allow researchers to place sensors from ground to wind turbine nacelle and blade tip height in order to better understand how wind farms might create micro-climates, or unique temperature, wind speed, or humidity patterns.

  • Wind Tunnel
    Wind Tunnel

    Wind tunnels use fans to precisely control airflow for research purposes.

    The new UI wind tunnel has a transparent portion to allow for lasers and cameras to capture how air flows around model wind turbines. The relatively large scale of this tunnel allows more accuracy in modeling.

Broader Impacts

[Image] boys visit Kirkwood facilities during WindStep campK-12 Teacher Workshops through the Center for Energy and Environmental Education, UNI. 2012-2016.

Faculty development through the American Society for Engineering Education, Virtual Community of Practice Program. Fall 2013 and Spring 2014. 

Relationship with ISU NSF IGERT in Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy. Through 2015. After funding loss, students reinvented group as a wind energy student organization.

Conference Speakers at Iowa Wind Energy Association’s Iowa Wind Power Conference/Regional Job & Education Fair. 2012-2016.

Symposium for Wind Energy Industry, Ames, IA, September 29, 2015.

Symposium for the North American Wind Energy Academy, August 2013, June 2015, Iowa State University will host September 2017.

For More Information

[POSTER]Iowa NSF EPSCoR wind energy platform
This poster highlights a few of the success stories from the Iowa NSF EPSCoR wind energy platform.
This page represents only a few highlights of the Wind Energy Platform. See the Wind Energy main page.Contact researchers who worked on the Iowa NSF EPSCoR Wind Energy Platform.