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ESTEP: Program Support and Small-Scale Compressed Air Energy System

The ESTEP program aims to educate the Naval Workforce through practical implementation of new and nascent technologies to reduce the cost and increase the security of energy to United States Naval facilities. This exposes thesis students to relevant research in the critical field of renewable energy.

The aim of the current ESTEP project is to offset the costs of charging the supersonic wind-tunnel tank system that is used to support various fluids courses within the Department of Mechanical Engineering. A compressor system with a desiccant air dryer will be run off renewable power to charge the tanks. At present a large high power system charges the tanks requiring planning a day ahead of schedule to run the wind-tunnels. Consuming a total of over 700kW the electricity cost is high.

The parallel system will take on the order of 2-3 weeks to charge the tanks reducing the cost of recharging the tanks and adding a layer of redundancy to the system. The research challenge for the thesis students will be integrating the compressor system with the renewable energy resources available. A control system that only turns the compressor on when renewable power is available will also be developed as part of this project.

This arrangement should result in a robust, un-interruptible e microgrid that can make use of any installed renewable energy in both regular and backup modes. This integrates the backup and renewable energy systems which at present and usually separate.
Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Office of Naval Research