The mission of the energy group is to improve accelerate the uptake of renewables and energy efficiency technology, as a means of reducing carbon emissions, increasing energy security, and improving access to sustainable energy for the poor worldwide. The focus of our activities is on sun, wind and water as renewable sources of energy and transmission. The leading research areas framework concerns with renewable energy systems development and testing, with emphasis to wind energy, hydropower energy and hydrogen energy vector. The task is to collaborate with industry to further renewable energy technology and to accelerate their commercialization in the marketplace. The turbomachinery Lab research has contributed to many wind industry success stories and the development of commercially successful small scale and utility-scale wind power plant. The energy research capabilities experiences staff, unique research capabilities, and specialized state-of-the-art equipment provide industry partners and stakeholders with technical support from the design table to the marketplace.
There are four main research and application areas of the energy group:
- energy converting systems and renewable energies,
- energy efficiency,
- public lighting,
- environmental sustainability and tackling climate change.
1. Energy converting systems and renewable energies
Wind energy research area was established in 1994 and is a pioneer area in Italy. Te activity covers different aspects, from wind assessment to new component development and wind turbine design and testing. Proprietary numerical and experimental tools have been developed for these aims. Topic research areas are small wind turbines conceived for low wind sites, wind energy exploitation in cold climates, anti-icing systems, wind turbine concept design, wind turbine testing. International running collaborations are with the Politechnik of Copenhagen (DTU-MEK) - Denmark, and the Porter School of Tel-Aviv (Israel), while a long cooperation in Italy was established with the Politecnico of Milano. The cutting edge activity is the recent establishment of a experimental Open Wind Turbines Test Field for community and small wind turbines. The project targets the monitoring of a pilot wind turbines, with the objective of this farm is to create a reference in research on wind energy deployment in Italy and Europe. It provides the necessary equipment for analysis and comparison of structural and functional characteristics of mini and micro wind turbines. In particular, the extensive use of such turbines, their technical and “economic” efficiencies, their environmental and acoustic impact and the problems during installation and removal are experimentally assessed in the farm.
This research area concerns with applications of minihydro technology. The turbomachinery Lab owns a rig for testing and development of small hydro turbines and reversible pumps for not conventional applications. Recently a new research line on the use of variable speed electric generators has been established. This solution allows a better efficiency on variable water flow plants. Some experimental outdoor solutions are currently monitored.
Hydrogen fuelled power plants
The activity in this field is concerned with two main activities:
- The analysis on the principles of safety in hydrogen and in designing secure systems and the definition of technical guidelines that extend the content of those rules on the basis of experience of the research group in the specific area. The expertise relies on technical standards for the design, construction and facilities management based on the knowledge of American ANSI/ASME, NASA and Canadian NFPA standards, considering the level of detail in the industry and experience in the aerospace field.
- The development of a model for an integrated pre-dimensioning of gas-steam turbines operating in Hydrogen fuelled power cycles. A novel solution of a Ljungström-type radial-flow cooled turbine, equipped with thermal barriers (TBC) was explored for such an application, investigating stress, cooling and thrust-balancing aspects.
The research group was involved in the pilot project on the costruction of a 11 MWe hydrogen-fed gas turbine able to couple high efficiency (fuel utilization) with low nitrogen-oxide emissions at Enel’s coal-fired Fusina Power Plant. The aim of a first demonstrative phase is to verify the correct operation of the gas turbine supplied by pure hydrogen and to acquire know-how of hydrogen combustion, safety aspects and control technologies in gas turbine cycles.
2. Energy efficiency
Research regarding optimization systems for the energy efficiency of buildings and energy consuming facilities, in order to reduce energy consumption and costs. Feasibility studies and energy efficiency projects in the civil and industry sector. Development of Energy Plans for Public Administrations, leading to more energy efficiency as well as creating a greater awareness of energy consumption and management. Study of cogeneration and tri-generation biomass and / or gas plants, including large heating and cooling distribution systems. Development of innovative contract methodologies with third-party financing procedures, EPC (Energy Performance Contract) methodologies and ESCo systems. (Energy Service Company). Study and development of software for calculating energy efficiency in residential and industrial areas.
3. Public lighting
Study and development of innovative power systems with constant current for public lighting. Analysis and development of software procedures for the management of automated maintenance of plants and the verification of existing systems to the scope of drafting municipal lighting regulation plans (PRIC). Research and definition of technical procedures for the verification of the upward light emission (light pollution) of public lighting systems. Drafting of the implementing regulations of the provincial law Oct. 3, 2007, No 16 (energy saving and light pollution).
4. Environmental sustainability and tackling climate change
Development of protocols for the accounting of CO2 emissions in accordance with ISO standards and guidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Assistance in the certification of CO2 emission reductions as a result of energy efficiency measures, renewable energy and reforestation. Neutralization of GHG emissions credits and management of so-called VER (Verified Emission Reduction), resulting from the CO2certification.
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- DTU MEC Mechanical Department of Politechnik of Copenhagen (Denmark)
- Porter School of Tel Aviv (Israel)
- Risoe (Denmark)
- Politecnico of Milano
- Università Roma 3
- IBM Italia
- HDE – Hydro Dolomiti Enel
- IMQ – Istituto per il Marchio di Qualità
- APE – Agenzia per l’Energia della Provincia Autonoma di Trento
- AEEG – Autorità per l’Energia Elettrica e il Gas
- Associazione degli industriali di Trento
- Regione Emilia Romagna
- Municipality of Padova
- Municipality of Ferrara
- Leitwind S.p.A.
- Tre Renewable Energies S.p.A.
- ENEL Ricerca
- PRAMAC S.p.a.
- SISVEL S.p.A.