NorTech, in partnership with Crain’s Cleveland Business, has announced the winners of its annual Innovation Awards program, and CSU’s wind tower system has taken a top prize.
In the awards program, which recognizes the top innovations in Northeast Ohio each year, Cleveland State University’s Fenn College of Engineering took top honors in the Advanced Energy, Power & Propulstion category for designing and producing a wind tower capable of harnessing wind energy in urban and low wind speed regions where the use of conventional wind tower systems is not feasible. This innovative design can generate enough energy to power two 3,000 square foot homes.
CSU’s Fenn College was among 12 institutions, including Parker Haniffin and NASA, recognized during the 2010 NorTech Awards Ceremony for their innovations and achievements throughout Northeast Ohio. The Wind Tower was chosen to receive this recognition by a panel of distinguished judges representing academia, venture capital, private industry and economic development. More than 40 nominations were received, a large number of which were submitted in the advanced energy category.
Dr. Majid Rashidi, CSU’s Betty L. Gordon Distinguished Professor of Engineering, is the Project Director and Principal Investigator who led a team that created and built the novel design for harnessing wind energy based upon a unique wind speed augmentation principle. Funding sources for the program include a U.S. Department of Energy $1.1 million grant; a $400,000 State of Ohio Capital Fund Grant; and a gift of $1 million from a private donor.
Click here to watch an interview with Dr. Rashidi and Crain’s Cleveland Business reporter, Christian Hendricks.
Dr. Majid Rashidi, Chairman of CSU’s Engineering Technology Department and Betty L. Gordon Distinguished Professor of the Mechanical Engineering, believes there is a better way to harness the power of the wind, especially at relatively lower wind speeds where conventional windmills stay stagnant. His wind power research has focused on the potential of increasing the wind speed using wind-deflecting structures. Dr. Rashidi has previously envisioned a number of such structures that amplify the wind, from a spiral shaped system to one that resembles a silo. The focus of this research project is on his current patented idea, a cylindrical structure with rotating arms.
Dr. Rashidi’s wind tower system is aligned with the small distributed wind energy systems initiative of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the DOE that is aimed for conversion of wind energy into electricity at geographic sites where the wind speed is relatively low. One of the particular aims of this work is to reduce the cost for generating electricity by reducing the cost of a suitable structure that amplifies the wind speed. As the result of the unique modular attributes of Dr. Rashidi’s design, the system can be scaled up in a vertical direction, while keeping the footprint size and the size of its individual turbines the same for different targeted power ratings. Another unique feature is its flexibility of construction and use — for example, in farms where there are existing silo-shaped structures that can be retrofitted with his design.
Dr. Rashidi’s tower atop the Plant Services building has captured the attention of passers-by. He is not just interested in figuring out how to harness low speed winds to create power; he is also interested in ensuring its commercial viability. An idea is only as good as its potential use, and Dr. Rashidi is passionate about creating an alternative energy source that can actually become a reality.
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