It began back in August 2015, when a conditional use permit was requested for the construction of a prototype wind turbine for Iowa Lakes Community College Farm on the college farm located west of Emmetsburg.
ILCC partnered with Windtest in the construction of the wind turbine. The concept of the project was to certify a Chava wind turbine prototype that could with stand the diverse weather conditions in Iowa. The main goal was to eventually sell this turbine in Japan, where the ascetically pleasing design would be favored in Japan, where space is limited.
Schematics of the wind turbine seem to fit in with the desires of the public who are tired of the large, horizontal axis turbines that are seen throughout the state. The Chava wind turbine is a vertical axis turbine, meaning that the blade is sits on top of the tower and look similar to an egg beater. The main advantages of this type of turbine is that the wind turbine does not need to be pointed into the wind and has an advantage on sites where the wind direction is highly variable or turbulent. The turbine will also benefit the college farm by supplying all power needed to run the operation. The turbine, which is 102 feet tall, will produce about 20 kilowatts of power.
TRENCHING THE CONDUIT – The Chava Vertical Axis Wind Turbine lies on its side while the conduit for the meteorological tower is trenched into the ground. A special feature of the vertical axis turbine is that the tower is on a hydraulic system, which raises and lowers the tower for maintenance and repairs. The 102-feet tall turbine dwarfs the college tractor and the trenching machine in the background. Safety testing has begun for the fine-tuning that may be needed before the turbine becomes operational. A tentative full operational date is March. Between now and then you can expect to see the turbine raised and lowered and spinning several times as the system is checked out. --Anesa McGregor photo
Hagen Ruff, Co founder and CEO of Chava Energy grew up in Germany and received a degree in Mechanical Engineering and did international consulting with Accenture for several years before becoming an entrepreneur for quite sometime, eventually focusing on his passion, energy. His company has been doing some exotic research into different was to convert ambient energy into useful energy with great results.
"We were contacted by Japan to create a vertical axis wind turbine that is reliable, smaller and astatically pleasing to look at. Japan has limited space and high incentive for the use of renewable fuels so we began researching and creating ideas until we came up with the end product that you see at the college far," Ruff said.
"The specific turbine that we have at the college farm is expandable. The nice thing about this is that it's the baby for what could be larger turbines. So they are going to learn a lot from this project," Dan Lutat, Director of Sustainable Energy Resources and Technologies at ILCC. "A turbine of this size is to big for a single home, however, it is an affordable option for municipalities that may want to create their own power or for agricultural farms. For the Japanese market this turbine is capped at 20 KW but it can actually do 37 KW. So it is something that is scalable. What they will learn during the certification project is huge."
"It will be an affordable option for those areas that are isolated or ag operations that want to be able to do something like this that is affordable. They want to know that as soon as they put it in the ground, they are starting to pay it back."
"The certification period is at least six months from when you start. Six months is the minimum duration for certification," Ruff said.
ILCC plans to sell any extra power not used at the farm at this time, but may, in the future put in batteries to store the power for future use.
Lutat went on to say that this is a great opportunity for the students in the Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program. They will have the opportunity to get hands on experience with a vertical axis turbine and will give them an entirely new look at wind power production for different markets.
"Hopefully this will take the risk out of energy dependency. In this country, there is not a lot of pressure like there is in other countries to be able to get into the renewable energies and go whole hog with it. It's a lifestyle change and in a resource rich country like ours, where we haven't been forced to change the way we do business, it takes something different before it is really embraced," Latut said.
With the completion of construction on the turbine in December 2015, progress continues readying the turbine for operation. Currently, conduits are being put in for the meteorological tower to collect atmospheric data for certification by a third party.
"We will start the testing process hopefully next week. This will consist of safety checks and fine-tuning until we are comfortable that the turbine is ready to operate. So over the next few weeks, you may see the tower being raised and lowered and the blades spinning so that we can cover all systems as thoroughly as possible," Ruff said.
Although wait has been long, the expectation is to be operational and powering the college farm by March.