By Eric Lanke
I recently attended the June 2019 Summit of the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) at Purdue University. This was the second of two meetings in our last fiscal year where the fluid power research projects supported by our new NFPA Research Supplement Program were presented.
In our efforts to increase the number of university students educated in fluid power, the NFPA Education and Technology Foundation provided ten $10,000 research supplements to ten academic faculty members working on fluid power research at six universities. This helps to engage current and build the careers of future university faculty who are and will be in a position to teach fluid power to undergraduate engineers on their campuses. The research supplements provide travel support so that each faculty member and one of their graduate students can attend to present their research at designated industry conferences and research summits like the one hosted by the CCEFP.
One such faculty member is Professor Kim Stelson of the University of Minnesota, whose graduate student, Biswaranjan Mohanty, presented on their project, “Understanding the Transient Nature of Wind Turbine Response to Create Advanced Controls to Improve the Efficiency of a Hydraulic Drivetrain Wind Turbine,” at the CCEFP Summit. The goal here is well described by the project title: using advanced controls to improve the efficiency of hydraulic drivetrain wind turbines.
Working with funding provided by the National Science Foundation, Mohanty and his team have been able to build a test platform in which they have replaced the wind turbine gearbox with a hydrostatic transmission. This has allowed them to conduct several tests in a wind tunnel where they have tried to harvest and re-use energy by dynamically pitching the turbine blades with the wind. So far their best results have been 59% of the kinetic energy of the wind captured (compared to about 45% in best-in-class, real-world wind turbines). Several more tests are planned, and the hope is to demonstrate even greater efficiencies with this technique.
A copy of Mohanty’s presentation slides can be accessed here.
Collectively, the research projects supported by NFPA Research Supplements represent more than $4.9 million in funding from a variety of organizations, including the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP). They are an excellent sample of the growing body of fluid power research being funded by the federal government and other research organizations.
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