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Illinois Institute of Technology Wind Turbine Project



What is the purpose of this project?


To search for solutions that could ultimately result in the use of wind power as a clean and reliable source of renewable energy in the metropolitan Chicago area.


Why is this important?


Wind power has been an underutilized energy resource in the Midwest because costs were prohibitive. While wind power will never generate 100 percent of the electricity consumed in the United States, it has the potential to reduce our dependence on much more polluting forms of energy. Wind turbines have the potential to create clean and reliable sources of energy on both a large and local scale. 


How was the project organized?


Illinois Institute of Technology assembled an interprofessional team of 10 students from a variety of disciplines -- business, engineering, architecture, and computer science.  The project is overseen by Professor George P. Nassos, director of Stuart Graduate School of Business’ Center for Sustainable Enterprise and the M.S. in Environmental Management program.


Project Advisors are:


Dr. Said Al-Hallaj, Associate Research Professor, IIT

Jean-Charles Poullian, President, TurbodynamX, Inc.



What was the team’s goal?


To examine business, logistical and environmental issues related to the installation of a small wind turbine in Chicago, and to conduct research on the validation of the wind turbine’s performance.


How was the team organized?


The students in the wind turbine project were divided into two groups. One group worked on technical and data analysis aspects of the project while the other group looked at legal and economic issues.


The students gathered data on wind output at various locations in metropolitan Chicago, evaluated the data to predict potential energy output of the wind turbine, reviewed legal aspects regarding the installation of a wind turbine at selected sites, and researched potential markets suitable for small-scale wind turbine technologies.

Who is sponsoring this project?


The wind turbine project is sponsored by TurbodynamX, Inc., a Chicago-based company that owns the U.S. license of the technology developed by Compagnie Internationale de Turbines Atmospheriques (CITA). IIT purchased the 12-kilowatt prototype unit from TurbodynamX. (See attached for specifications.)


Support for the purchase, installation and operation of the wind turbine is provided by the City of Chicago Department of Environment, Exelon Corporation, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, and Meade Electric.


Why was the Field Museum site selected?


The Field Museum site provides the opportunity to demonstrate effectively the feasibility of this particular turbine and energy source as a clean and renewable source of energy. It provides an ideal urban setting and an opportunity for many Chicago area citizens to observe this new technology.


How does wind energy compare to solar energy and other forms on an economic basis?


Wind energy is an economy of scale; a large utility scale wind turbine can cost less than $1000/kW and small wind turbines cost around $3000 - $4000/kW.  However, the average citizen interested in clean, renewable energy cannot acquire the millions of dollars needed to by a utility scale wind turbine.  Small wind power, on the other hand, is accessible by the individual.  Small wind power typically costs $20/kW a year to operate and maintain


Solar power in not an economy of scale; a large solar plant is only moderately cheaper on a per kW basis than a small solar power system for a home.  The typical cost of a solar panel is around $5000/kWp with an annual operations and maintenance cost of $10/kWp.  


How does this technology compare with other wind turbines?


This wind turbine is designed with a fairing around the edge of the rotor blades.  This fairing improves the flow of the air past the rotor blades resulting in 45% more electricity generated for a given diameter, or swept area.  This design also eliminates most of the noise typically associated with wind turbines.  The fairing makes the turbine more visible to birds and reduces significantly the potential of birds flying into the blades. This will be the first one of its kind operational anywhere in the world.


How much will a commercial 12 kW unit made by TurbodynamX, Inc. cost?


The installed cost of a 12 kW wind turbine by TurbodynamX will cost about $60,000 installed.  However, this unit would be eligible for a $24,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and a $6,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, reducing the cost to $30,000.  ComEd has a provision that will purchase back energy generated by the wind turbine that is not utilized by owner of the wind turbine.


Who will use the electricity generated by this prototype unit?


The electricity generated by the prototype will be fed into the Field Museum.  There, a majority of the energy will be used directly, but any energy that exceeds the demand of the Field Museum will make its way into the Chicago power grid. 



Is Chicago, in general, and the lakefront, in particular, a good source of wind energy?


The Chicago lakefront provides the highest annual wind speeds of any region in the Chicago area.  Overall the wind resource in Chicago is moderate: it is better than the resource found in many states, but not as good as states such as California, Texas, and the Dakotas. 


Who would purchase a 12 kW wind turbine in the Midwest?


Currently the market for small wind power is concentrated on homes that do not have access to grid power, individuals and small communities that feel strongly about supporting renewable energy, and government and educational organizations that showcase renewable energy.


A relatively new market that has emerged is that of small businesses whishing to reduce their electricity bills by generating their own electricity with wind power.    



When will the wind turbine be ready for installation?


The wind turbine is scheduled to be unveiled on June 20, 2003.





George P. Nassos,

Director - Environmental Management Program

IIT Stuart Graduate School of Business

565 W. Adams Street

Chicago, IL 60661-3691

(312) 906-6543