Electricity is vital to every American household and it somehow becomes one of our basic needs, like food and water, whether we are conscious of it or not. However, with decades of utilizing coal as the primary source of electric production, we have released an enormous amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Since carbon dioxide is known for its adverse effects on the environment such as global warming and for intoxicating humans in large quantities, scientists are working diligently to search for a better source of energy, one that is just as efficient as coal but with less CO2 emissions. Even though a tremendous amount of research on green energy is emerging, and while natural gas seems to be a very promising fossil fuel to date, much more research is needed to discover even better, greener sources of electricity without causing opposition to the production of such sources.
With that in mind, Colorado State University will build a new steam power plant for the purposes of training and accommodating the study of energy for the years to come. Steam turbines are heat engines based on thermodynamics. CSU’s steam plant will include a steam boiler, turbine-generator, and system controls. It is anticipated to produce as much as 20 kilowatts of electricity. Even though this is a small-scale plant, it will provide abundant opportunities for students and research and training purposes.
CSU has long been a pioneer of emerging energy technologies. Faculty at CSU has helped propose energy policy solutions and explore the impacts of energy use on the environment and humans. In addition, the CSU Energy Institute, launched by the Engines and Energy Conversion Lab at CSU and operated by the Office for Vice President for Research, helps make CSU’s work known to the community by collaborating with both public and private energy entities. As a result, students and faculty will gain new research opportunities from the birth of this Institute.
The Powerhouse Energy Campus was established to promote even more energy research for CSU with a nearly 100,000 square feet LEED certified green research complex. Located at 403 North College Ave, Fort Collins, this promising campus will be an academic structure specializing in green energy research and will house the new power plant.
Students now have the opportunity to further their understanding of energy with the new facility while energy technicians can develop their working skills using this construction. Moreover, students enrolled in courses such as thermodynamics, heat transfer, and so on will be offered hands-on experience within this addition.
Besides the steam turbines, the new plant will also have natural gas turbines, which can be used to produce even more electricity. The wasted heat in this operation will be transferred into electricity using steam turbines.
As efficient and renewable energy is crucial to every aspect of civilized life, such a facility aimed to educate students about practices of energy conservation will reap benefits for CSU’s College of Engineering as well as the rest of campus and even the Fort Collins community.