Before I moved from Minneapolis to Kansas City, Missouri, to participate in the Teach for America program, I had never gone on a road trip longer than an hour by myself. I quickly became used to the seven-hour drive between KC and Minneapolis. The hardest part was the middle four hours through Iowa. I always knew I was getting close to Minneapolis when I passed the field of windmills near the Iowa-Minnesota border!
A research project currently underway at the U of M reminded me of that long drive...and also reminded me of how happy I am to be back in my home state again. A team of researchers led by Perry Li, professor of mechanical engineering, recently won a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The team will be studying how to store energy produced by off-shore wind turbines.
A problem with wind energy right now is that it is inefficient. More energy is created at night, when wind is stronger, but the energy is needed for use during the day. The goal of this research project is to find a way to compress and store air for use during the day.
Currently, only 2 percent of the nation's energy comes from wind power, and the Department of Energy has made it a goal to have 30 percent of our energy created from wind power by the year 2030. Hopefully the research taking place at the U of M will make that a reality!
Photo courtesy College of Science and Engineering.