Juracán Energy (JE)
In Puerto Rico, there is a high dependence on fossil fuels to produce electricity at high costs, but there are not enough backup generators to sustain the island after a power collapse occurs. The entire island could be impacted for hours or even days. There is where renewable energy offers an attractive solution: micro wind turbines are seen as a feasible option to power essential loads in remote places where the power grid is more fragile. With the combination of PV panels and energy storage devices, a DC microgrid could be implemented in those areas, helping to soften the damage or even resolve the problem by improving its resiliency in the wake of natural disasters.
The team is developing a horizontal three-bladed direct-drive wind turbine. The team’s goal is to make it strong enough to sustain high wind speeds, but more importantly, able to power essential low-voltage loads such as powering lights in a house or charging a cell phone. It also must have a control system that can keep the turbine protected in a disaster scenario.
Our strategy has been to implement a systems engineering approach to tackle this complex and multidisciplinary project. The team has grouped students to work on different subsystems. The electrical team continues its work of the past year to improve its designs, while the mechanical team is creating a new version of the turbine that uses some functions of the previous design while upgrading the rest.
The team’s strengths are our past experience and unity to each other and Puerto Rico. We are trying to correct previous failures and improve upon them, and some of the past members have provided us back up and lessons learned to get us started. We have been working to create a system that will work well enough to help Puerto Rico, and that gives us motivation to complete the job.
Our main obstacle is the topography in Puerto Rico, which is not favorable for wind turbines. The areas with more wind velocity are natural reserves or landmarks. It has also proved difficult to practice when we don’t have the correct wind tunnel to test our turbine.
Collegiate Wind Competition Objectives
The JE Team believes the greatest asset that can be obtained from the Collegiate Wind Competition is the experience that we can build in wind energy, and the networking opportunities from working with wind energy professionals. Our objective this year is to achieve better result through a strong performance in the technical category. The renewable energy industry is just beginning and it will keep improving, so we are looking forward to being part of it. As individuals, we could build a background for our future and use the acquired knowledge to better implement wind energy on the island.
JE is engaging with the community by working directly with children who are interested in renewable energy. We’re offering classes to help them become conscious of the power options that exist and motivating them to keep studying. We’re also hoping to come out of the competition with a viable high-efficiency micro wind turbine and control system that will provide more power options for our community.
This webpage was submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy by the team.