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Graduate Helps ONU Building go ‘Green’

Mar 6, 2008

Ohio Northern University's transition to conserving energy and going "green" took a major step forward after the installation of a combination wind generator and solar panel system on the roof of Taft Memorial Building.

Robert Slater, who graduated from ONU in 2007 with a degree in technology and an option in advanced manufacturing, spearheaded the project. In September 2007, Slater, of Apple Creek, Ohio, began an independent study in the design of alternative energy systems. This led to the design and installation of a hybrid wind/solar system that can power an electrical load. It also can charge a battery bank that can power a load when the sun is behind clouds and the wind is not blowing.

"This project gave me a great hands-on experience with new technology that is growing with popularity everywhere," Slater said.

The design incorporates an Air Breeze small wind generator from Southwest Windpower and a 150-watt solar panel made by Sunwize Technologies. The setup is controlled by a Maximum Power Point Tracking system from Outback Power Systems. Both alternative energy generators can simultaneously charge a 105-amp-hour, 24-volt battery system and power an electrical load through a 1000-watt pure sine wave inverter.

"It's not a large-scale installation by any means, but we'll be able to study wind and solar technologies at a level not possible without the equipment," said Dr. Adam Stienecker, Slater's advisor on the project and a professor in the Department of Technological Studies.

Stienecker plans to implement the technology into his courses so that students will have the opportunity to peek inside a system that is talked about in the classroom. Other students will design systems to record wind and solar data and analyze the results.

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