MAE Seminar: World’s Largest Wind Turbine and Compressed Air Energy Storage


12:45 pm-1:45 pm
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World’s Largest Wind Turbine and Compressed Air Energy Storage

Thursday, January 26, 2023, at 12:50 pm
Location: In-Person MAE-A, Room 303

Eric Loth
Rolls Royce Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia

The rapid increase in wind energy has been achieved (through aerospace and mechanical engineers) through improved cost efficiency and larger turbines, leading to the category of “extreme-scale” wind turbines (≥ 10-MW). A new aeroelastic concept was developed based on a downwind rotor with blades aligned by the combination of gravitational, centrifugal, and thrust forces along the blade path, which can allow a turbine as large as 50 MW. To experimentally investigate this novel design, a servo-aero-gravo- elastically scaled wind turbine was field tested at the National Wind Technology Center. The results (the first ever such scaled field tests for a turbine) demonstrated the concept viability and outlined key research issues which will be critical to next-generation wind turbines. However, going forward, energy storage will be needed for deep grid decarbonization. One option for wind energy is compressed air energy storage but a key challenge is round-trip efficiency (current high energy density systems operate at about 50%). To address this, a theoretical analysis was developed and compared to simulations that suggest round-trip efficiencies as high as 90% may be possible, but experiments and higher-fidelity simulations are needed to better understand this highly coupled multiphase flow.

Eric Loth is the Rolls Royce Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia. He is a Fellow of ASME and AIAA and was named a Yip Visiting Fellow of the Magdalene College at Cambridge University (U.K.). Loth’s current research focuses on extreme-scale wind turbines, energy-storage systems, multiphase flow, super-hydrophobicity, advanced aerodynamics, and hypersonic flow. With his students, he has authored over 180 journal papers and six patents and has led more than $16M in research funding in his career. Dr. Loth has given invited talks at several universities (including Harvard, MIT, Oxford, Penn, and Princeton), several national labs (including NETL, NREL, NRL, SNL), and the several conference and events (including ARPA-E Congressional Showcase, MIT A+B, World Energy Storage Conference). He was the panel chair for NAE Energy Research at IMECE and NAE Aerospace Research at AIAA Sci Tech. His research has been covered by several media outlets (including American Scientist, CNBC, Daily Mail, LA Times, MIT Technology Review, New Scientist, Popular Science, and USA Today).

MAE Faculty Host: Bala


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UF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering