SUNY Oswego wind turbine project to generate power, education

SUNY Oswego has bid out a project to provide wind power by fall for the electrical system of a building regularly exposed to Lake Ontario’s energetic airstream.

The project aims to use a wind turbine with a small footprint to provide an estimated 40,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year from atop the campus heating plant in Lee Hall.

Impact Technologies wind turbine prototype.A prototype of such a turbine exists at Impact Technologies Group of Syracuse, which already has recruited Destiny USA and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry for demonstration projects. The company now wants to team with SUNY Oswego, its professors and students to perfect the powAir Sail’s design.

“They’re looking to optimize their design so they can take it to the next level and offer this as a commercial product,” said John Moore, the college’s director of engineering and sustainability.

Low-wind model

Moore pointed out that most wind turbines need a wind speed of 7 miles per hour to generate electricity. The unit from Impact Technologies, using a vertical-axis design it acquired from Grassman Performance Energy, can produce power in wind of less than 3 mph, and start turning at 1 mph. The blades are designed to harness turbulent winds as well, according to the company.

“The key now is we’ve got to work through the state procurement process,” Moore said. “This is one company we’re looking to partner with, and we’re looking for others.”

He said he hopes to have the turbine installed—including coupling its generator with Lee Hall’s electrical system—by late summer or early fall.

In a proposal to Tom Simmonds, associate vice president for facilities, Moore estimated the turbine would produce enough energy in less than 12 years to pay back the estimated $50,000 initial investment. The college will look for federal and state funding for small wind projects to help make the purchase.

As with the geothermal project that will help heat and cool the college’s future sciences complex, Moore emphasized the educational benefits of monitoring and studying this alternative energy project.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Moore said. “Our earth sciences faculty are excited.” He said Dr. Robert Ballentine, a meteorology professor, helped envision the proposal and the potential learning experiences for students. Moore also anticipates interest from other departments such as physics and technology.

As for the interesting look of the powAir Sail fan blades: “They stepped right out of the box (designing those),” Moore said. “It’s pretty neat.”

PHOTO CAPTION: The patent-pending powAir Sail from Image Technologies Group of Syracuse is the type of small-footprint, vertical-axis unit that may start producing electrical energy atop SUNY Oswego’s Lee Hall later this year.

(Posted: Jun 24, 2010)