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ODU in Proposed WindSTAR Research Center Coalition of Universities and Industry

WindSTAR, a national wind energy research center that aims to harness the expertise and resources of higher education and industry, is being planned by a partnership of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, James Madison University, Old Dominion University and the University of Texas at Dallas.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) gave the universities a $40,000 planning grant in 2009 and invited them to apply jointly for an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) grant. That application, with UMass designated as the lead university, must be submitted by Sept. 25.

Currently, the university partners are recruiting industries and government agencies that want to get in on the ground floor of the project. A total of 18 firms and agencies, each willing to pay $30,000 per year to help support WindSTAR, are required by NSF to be original members of the proposed center.

WindSTAR will promote education programs and research aimed at the development of wind farms on land and offshore. Chief goals are 1) collaboration in high-performance technology development between center members; 2) wind energy research and development that is of direct relevance to the industry; and 3) education of a cadre of diverse undergraduate and graduate students who can support and eventually lead in the design, manufacture, installation, operation and maintenance of wind energy systems.

James Manwell, director of the UMass Wind Energy Center and one of the chief architects of the I/UCRC application, said the university partners, under the direction of an industry advisory board, intend to engage in a program of research and education that focuses on environmental factors related to wind farms; on rotor blade design and manufacture; on wind farm/grid system management; on aerodynamics and mechanics of wind turbine design; and on site layout, operation and maintenance.

"Our proposal is for a virtual center, with activities spread between the members," said Larry Atkinson, the coastal climatologist who has led ODU's scientific studies pertaining to the potential placement of wind farms off the mid-Atlantic coast. Atkinson is among the scientists and engineers at ODU and JMU who have taken part in the offshore wind energy initiative of the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium (VCERC).

Other than Manwell and Atkinson, the faculty members leading the center planning are Jonathan Miles of JMU and Mario Rotea of UT Dallas. Both are mechanical engineers.

The UMass Wind Energy Center, established in 1972, has one of the oldest and most respected programs internationally in wind energy engineering research and education programs. UMass is the only institution in the United States offering master's and doctoral-level engineering programs specializing in wind energy.

The Massachusetts center joined with VCERC to win the NSF planning money last year for the I/UCRC project.

Earlier this year, VCERC released a 67-page feasibility study identifying sufficient potential for offshore winds to provide 10 percent of Virginia's annual electricity demand in high-wind zones 12 miles or more off the coast on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

Within 10 years, the report stated, wind turbine projects off the coast of Virginia could produce electricity at competitive costs and create thousands of jobs. Wind farms in these zones would have minimal conflict with other ocean uses, the researchers said. (For a copy of the report, visit www.vcerc.org/report.htm.)

Work by WindSTAR would help the United States meet its goal of getting 20 percent of its electricity from wind energy by 2030, Atkinson said. Pertinent research projects identified by the member universities include:

• "Advanced Composites Technology for Wind Turbine Blade Design and Manufacturing," Robert Hyers, UMass

• "Assessment of Geological Setting for Wind Turbine Foundation Sites," Jennifer Georgen, ODU

• "Comprehensive Layout Optimization for Offshore Wind Farms: A Synthesis of Recently Developed Tools," James Manwell, UMass

• "Electrical System Design Tools for U.S. Offshore Wind Projects," Shirshak Dhali, ODU

• "Geospatial Tools for Offshore Wind Siting," James Wilson and Remy Luerssen, JMU

• "LIDAR-based Techniques for Wind Turbine Inflow Characterization and Advanced Control," Jonathan Miles, JMU

• "Oceanographic and Meteorological Inputs to the Design of U.S. Offshore Wind Turbine Arrays," John Klinck, ODU

• "Soil and Support Structure Selection Methodologies for Offshore Wind Turbines Within Arrays," James Manwell, UMass

• "Wind Power Based Methodologies for Fuel Production," Jon McGowan, UMass

• "Wind Turbine Active Structural Control," Mario Rotea, UT Dallas

• "Wind Turbine Condition Monitoring and Prognosis," Robert Hyers, UMass

• "Wind Turbine Passive Control and Structural Control Modeling," Matthew Lackner, UMass

This article was posted on: July 21, 2010

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