Monday, June 14, 2010
K-STATE GRADUATE STUDENT PLACES THIRD IN POWER AND ENERGY COMPETITION
MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University graduate engineering student took third place in a recent Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers competition.
Viet Nguyen, master's student in mechanical engineering, Phillipsburg, received a $500 monetary award and an internship opportunity in the industry's energy sector for his third-place finish in the graduate student poster session of the competition. The event was a part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Power and Energy Society's Transmission and Distribution Conference in New Orleans.
Nguyen's entry examined the effects of turbulence caused by trees and buildings on wind turbines. To better understand these effects, Nguyen performed a variety of wind simulations on a computer-generated model of trees and buildings and analyzed the resulting data.
"The research is to study the atmosphere around environments, such as cities or open country sides, to pick the optimal location for putting up a small-scale wind turbine, such as those found in backyards or around industrial sites," Nguyen said. "Some of the difficulties are finding weather history specifically related to a certain site on a map, and justifying the accuracy of a method to visualize the airflow at a certain place."
Determining a more effective site for wind turbines would help diminish the adverse effects of turbulence on the hardware and lead to an increase in energy production and a decrease in the noise level. Nguyen's project also has the potential to predict the overall power generation of wind turbines, which would assist private consumers and utility administrators in determining whether small turbines are a sound investment.
The next step in Nguyen's project will be comparing his computer model research with the anemometer data from the Kansas Wind for Schools' project turbines. This comparison will provide guidance in Nguyen's research and the future implementation of his results.
According to Ruth Douglas Miller, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at K-State and co-researcher on the project, Nguyen's success in the institute's competition also could lead to further development of a wind energy program in K-State's College of Engineering.
"The more such awards and notice we receive, the more likely the wind industry will recruit K-State students and the healthier our fledgling program will grow --not to mention the benefits to the industry if our research is successful," she said.
In addition to Miller, Nguyen's research also was conducted in collaboration with K-State's Bala Natarajan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Charlie Zheng, associate professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering.