Professor Seiler receives NSF CAREER award
AEM professor Pete Seiler has received a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). His award grant is titled “CAREER: Probabilistic Tools for High Reliability Monitoring and Control of Wind Farms” and the award date is from March 1, 2013 through February 28, 2018. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program supports junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. More about the CAREER program can be seen here.
Professor Seiler’s CAREER grant will focus on two innovative methods to reduce the costs of wind energy. First, probabilistic techniques will be developed to detect faulty turbine components in a fast and accurate manner. This will enable preventative maintenance or continued operation after selected component faults. Second, tools from stochastic optimal control theory will be applied to design damage-aware control strategies for the wind farm. Currently each turbine within a wind farm is operated to maximize its own captured power while ensuring that structural loads remain within design limits. Stochastic optimal control will be used to perform this trade-off by coordinating all turbines in the wind farm. This will enable a better trade-off between the revenue from power production and the true financial costs that arise due to structural loads. The research will lead to a significant reduction in operating costs for wind turbines thus improving the economic viability of wind energy. In addition, the research will be applicable to high reliability systems in other domains including aerospace, automotive, and medical devices.
Figure [Left]: Clipper Liberty turbine at the EOLOS Wind Research Field station
Figure [Right]: Vestas V27 Turbine at the Mesabi Range Community and Technical College
Several collaborations were critical to the success of Professor Seiler’s CAREER grant. First, Professor Seiler will collaborate with the EOLOS Wind Energy Consortium to test the proposed algorithms and ensure their relevance to the wind industry. The collaboration enables testing on a state-of-the-art 2.5MW Clipper Liberty turbine installed at the EOLOS Wind Research Field Station (Figure 1 [Left]). Professor Seiler will also collaborate with Mesabi Range Community and Technical College in Eveleth, Minnesota. Mesabi Range offers a two-year technical program in wind energy maintenance and has a Vestas V27 turbine on-site (Figure 1 [Right]). This collaboration will address the need to develop a highly skilled workforce to design and maintain reliable wind turbines. Finally, Professor Seiler is a resident fellow of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE). The resident fellows program supports faculty from many disciplines to address environmental problems. The technical research proposed in Professor Seiler’s CAREER grant was influenced by the discussions with other IonE scholars especially on the legal, policy, and environmental issues that surround wind energy.
Professor Seiler's research abstract can be seen here.
See an article about Professor Seiler's research on the Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory website.