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A fourth wind turbine capable of producing 2 kilowatts (kW) of electricity has recently been added on the roof of Ball Hall in the North Campus. This brings the total wind-energy generating capacity of the building to 4.3kW ߝ enough to power four room air conditioners, 35 CPUs and monitors, 170 laptops, or more than 100 fluorescent lights.
“Wind energy is clean and sustainable,” says Electrical Engineering Prof. Ziyad Salameh, co-director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Electric Car and Energy Conversion. “It does not emit greenhouse gases.”
In 2008, Salameh received grants of $16,000 from National Grid and $8,000 from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to study the 2kW turbine from Southwest Wind Power. “This particular turbine is noise-free and has DC-to-AC inverters inside the unit,” he says. “It has only two wires that can be directly hooked up to a residential building.” Salameh is using the grant to test the turbine’s operational reliability.
The new unit joins the 1.5kW, 500W and 300W wind turbines and the 13kW photovoltaic arrays already in place atop Ball Hall. “These facilities are excellent not only for generating electricity but also for teaching our engineering students and doing research,” says Salameh.
In the future he plans to install vertical-axis (freestanding) wind turbines on the campus. Unlike current units that pivot on a pylon to follow the prevailing wind direction, these upright turbines will be omnidirectional, that is, their blades will turn regardless of where the wind blows.
Large wind farms are already in operation in California and Iowa, and similar facilities are planned for Nantucket Sound. Wind already provides enough electricity for about 2.5 million homes in America, and much more wind power is on the way.
- Edwin Aguirre