A giant egg beater at ILCC’s farm?
EMMETSBURG – It’s called a vertical axis wind turbine and is being marketed as a more appealing design for the small green energy market.
Iowa Lakes Community College’s farm, west of Emmetsburg along U.S. Highway 18, is preparing to turn its “egg beater” 20 kilowatt turbine on soon to begin a six-month certification study for the device’s manufacturer Chava Wind LLC, based in Florida.
According to Dan Lutat, director of Sustainable Energy Resources and Technologies, for ILCC, the turbine if part of a sustainable farming model the college is developing.
Currently, the college is verifying the device will be safe when it begins to operate.
The vertical axis turbine is designed to provide energy for the entire farming operation, with any excess electricity sold on the grid.
However, in the future, he said, plans call for storing excess energy in batteries for the farm for when the wind does not blow.
The seamless, carbon fiber Daerrius rotors, Lutat said, are designed to operate in lower-speed winds than propeller-type horizontal axis turbines.
It also does not have to face the wind, nor adjust the blades for pitch and yaw, as horizontal designs.
The main advantages of this type of turbine is on sites where the wind direction is highly variable or turbulent.
In fact, Lutat said, Palo Alto County’s usual turbulent windy conditions is why ILCC was chosen for the certification test by Chava Wind.
Chava is set to sell vertical axis turbines to Japan, which is attracted to the aesthetic design. Lutat said he thinks municipalities will find this design more appealing than the horizontal axis turbine design.
ILCC’s turbine stands 102 feet tall, including the lightning rod at the top, and has a blade width of 30 feet. It will turn at 82 rotations per minute.
“The turbine we have at the college farm is expandable,” Lutat said. “The nice thing about this is that it’s the baby for what could be larger turbines. So (Chava) is going to learn a lot from this project.
“A turbine of this size is too big for a single home, however, it’s an affordable option for municipalities that may want to create their own power, or for agricultural farms.”
For the Japanese market this turbine is capped at 20 KW, but it can actually do 37 KW. “So it is something that is scaleable,” Lutat said.
During the certification process, ILCC students will learn about collecting and interpreting the certification data.
The certification data will be the responsibility of windtest-na. Chava Wind provided the turbine.
ILCC received a $20,000 grant from the Iowa Energy Center for the infrastructure work.
Everything about this turbine, Lutat said, “is as off the shelf as you can get, except for the blades which are the most exotic piece.”
“The tower is just a utility pole. The air brake (to shut down the turbine in dangerous winds) is off an over-the-road semi truck. The turbine can be lowered to the ground for repairs rather than having to climb.
It’s all designed to take the risk out of energy dependency, he said.
The Emmetsburg News contributed to this article.
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