University of Windsor establishes first wind and renewable energies research centre in North America

The University of Windsor recently announced an agreement with Brüel & Kjær (B&K), the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer and supplier of sound and vibration measurement apparatus, to establish North America’s first Wind and Renewable Energies Centre of Expertise (WRECE) in the Centre for Engineering Innovation.

The agreement will provide $1.4 million in research equipment to UWindsor’s Noise Vibration and Harshness-Sound Quality Group (NVH-SQ), led by Assistant Professor Colin Novak. A graduate level course using the equipment has already been developed and will be taught this summer.

The centre will be located in the Industrial Courtyard of the University of Windsor’s $112 million Centre for Engineering Innovation, currently under construction – the University’s largest capital project to date. WRECE and B&K will jointly be the Industrial Courtyard’s first occupants and will move into their new space later this year.

Equipment will include a large-scale wind turbine model and supporting software for teaching and research that will allow the group to study the generation of low-frequency wind turbine noise; practices to quantify wind turbine noise and sound power, as well as design and vibration testing of turbine components.

“We have had an excellent partnership with the University of Windsor, working closely with Dr. Novak and the NVH-SQ group to provide the engineering faculty with access to the latest NVH technologies for both advanced education and application to industrial projects,” says Clinch. “When combined with the expertise available from the University of Windsor, I believe we will achieve major research advancements while being mutually beneficial to both partners.”

Dr. Novak says because wind turbines are now an integral part of the landscape and an important source of future power generation, ongoing research on noise, vibration and efficiency is essential.

“If we carefully monitor the vibration and noise wind turbines generate we are well-positioned to minimize their impact on people. Wind energy is a constantly evolving technology that will have an impact on the lives of everyone – not just in our immediate community but around the world.”

As well, Novak says, advanced study of the turbines’ gearboxes and blades will also be part of the research.

“These are huge structures with gearboxes the size of an automobile,” he says. “We want to find ways to monitor the conditions inside these gearboxes with the goal of making them more efficient. It is also important to find efficiencies in the shape and function of turbine towers and blades.”

Once completed, the Industrial Courtyard will provide a venue for companies, researchers and students to work together to test ideas, solve problems, and develop strategies for translating research into commercially viable processes.

“Our international relationship with B&K and the research opportunities it will present for our students makes it an ideal first occupant of the new Industrial Courtyard,” says UWindsor president Alan Wildeman. “With the new Centre for Engineering Innovation, the University of Windsor is uniquely positioned to provide an outstanding research environment, linking industry with the innovative ideas of our faculty and students.”

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