Case Western Reserve University is serious about wind power research—serious enough that one wind turbine wasn’t going to meet its needs. Nor were two, actually. No, the university needed—and recently got—a third wind turbine, a 1-megawatt model that gives Case and its institutional and industry partners a utility-scale power producer to go along with midsize and small models.
“By having three different sized wind turbines, researchers and companies can ‘right-size’ their efforts, depending on what information the researchers are interested in and what market the companies are developing products for,” said David Matthiesen, professor of materials science and engineering and faculty director of the Wind Energy Research and Commercialization Center, part of the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case.
The new turbine, rising 230 feet into the air, resides on the east side of Cleveland on the grounds of William Sopko & Sons, which proudly bills itself as “America’s largest manufacturer of precision ginding wheel adapaters and spindle accessories.” The company is an industrial partner of the university, and donated the parcel of land to further the school’s wind energy research. A midsize research turbine was previously installed on the same property, while the its smallest turbine lives on the Case campus, where it produces power.
Once installed and tied to the grid, all three turbines will be used as working laboratories for researchers at both nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies, eliminating the large expense of having to buy or build their own turbines.
The university says that the ultimate goal is to develop better products for the wind power industry, as well as more efficient wind turbine management technologies, and establish a wind-energy supply chain in Northeast Ohio. Last September we reported on a prototype blade developed at Case made from polyurethane reinforced with carbon nanotubes that is said to be lighter and tougher than those now in use.