The Bayonet

Tuesday, Jun. 17, 2014

Wind turbine device could save thousands

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A new technology could provide Fort Benning with thousands of dollars per year in energy savings, according to Directorate of Public Works officials.

The energy savings come from new wind turbine devices placed on top of previously existing cooling towers that are used to provide air conditioning across post.

"These cooling towers continually exhaust air into the sky and our wind turbine sits on top to capture that energy and put that energy back into the electrical grid," said Kirk Ticknor, chief of DPW's Operations and Maintenance Division. "It's like getting 20 free light bulbs powered for free every day. You're capturing energy that would have otherwise gone to waste."

There are currently a total of eight wind turbines on post, though not all of them have been installed.

Eventually, there will be three turbines at Building 3250, two at Building 398 and one each at Buildings 4105, 5215 and 5500.

"We chose these cooling towers because they operate almost year-round," Ticknor said. "We chose cooling towers that were of differing services so we could as broad an experience as possible."

Ticknor said the turbines can save roughly 1 kilowatt per hour, which translates to roughly five to 10 cents per hour.

"If you start to think about it, you're getting that savings every hour of every day every year for the next 20 years," Ticknor said. "That really adds up over time."

Using the five to 10 cents per hour savings estimate, each turbine can provide savings of between $430 and $875 per year, meaning all eight turbines could save up to roughly $7,000 per year.

The wind turbine, called the XT9000 System, is a product of EXnergy Technologies and was invented by Imad Mahawili, EXnergy's president and CEO.

EXnergy partnered with Contubernium Incorporated to market and develop the device, which led to the partnership with Fort Benning.

Contubernium officials reached out to deputy garrison commander George Steuber, and the device was tested and improved at Fort Benning since the partnership began in October 2012.

One such improvement has seen the device improve its operation during various weather conditions.

"The device has truly become an all-weather device," said Karl Muehlheuser, Contubernium's vice president of marketing and sales. "It's stainless steel encased in a polycarbonate housing and it also has a central hub filled with ceramic ball bearings. That drastically reduces the needed maintenance because there's no oil to be maintained. This will stand up to all kinds of weather."

Ticknor said DPW officials will monitor the devices over the next year before making a decision on the potential to install the turbines postwide.

However, the device is already starting to catch on elsewhere.

"We are already in consultation with a number of other military bases and this device is also already on a number of hotels in Las Vegas, and we plan to continue to pursue hotels, hospitals or any other major building or system of buildings that requires commercial air systems," Muehlheuser said.

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