Wind turbine generates power to pump water through Beaufort campus lagoon

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Photo: Civil Engineering Instructor Rick Eckstrom helps students build the campus wind turbine in 2010.

 

With the combined forces from TCL students, faculty and staff, a 4-year-old wind turbine is now generating electricity to bring a once algae-infested lagoon back to life.

 

In 2010, TCL received a $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to rebuild and refocus sustainability within the construction courses. Alternate energy was one of the major topics explored during this rebuilding process.

 

In the summer of 2010, ten students enrolled in the generator support systems course and Civil Engineering Instructor Rick Eckstrom led the building and raising of the turbine onto an 80-foot tower. The turbine and tower cost about $7,000 which was funded by the Walmart Foundation grant.

 

The turbine’s original purpose was to simply help train students, and the power generated was simply stored in battery backups. Flash forward to 2014, when Facility Management Director Larry Beckler and maintenance staff member Nathan Rosso decided to use the electrical power to better TCL’s campus.

 

“Since I started here two years ago, I always thought that it would be great if we could use the turbine for something useful on campus,” Beckler said.

 

Rosso and Beckler collaborated and came up with the idea to use the energy from the turbine to pump water through the lagoon outside of building 19.

 

Former industrial technologies student Rosso started the early stages of the project in May and then installed a new pump within the lagoon, which is now powered by the 4-year-old turbine.

 

After years of “wasted” energy, the turbine is now producing electricity to power the pump and help create a clear and beautiful lagoon for TCL’s staff and students.

“We are just happy that the turbine is now spinning and generating power and actually being used to improve the campus,” Beckler said.

 

In addition to the turbine system, the Walmart Foundation grant also funded photovoltaic systems, a tide-powered electric generator and solar powered water heating systems for alternate energy learning tools.

 

Eckstrom hopes that the equipment will benefit the newly approved industrial technology certificate programs being offered this fall; an Applied Science Solar Energy Technician/Photovoltaic Certificate and an Applied Science Solar Energy Technician/Solar Thermal Certificate.