Educational Display of a Microhydro/Wind/Solar Power Station in Hickory Hills Park La Porte City, Iowa

Grant #: 05S-06
Principal Investigator: Recayi Pecan
Organization: University of Northern Iowa
Student Support: Six Undergraduates
Technical Area: Renewables

Public Abstract:
This work will present a unique opportunity for UNI to achieve distinction in conducting comprehensive applied technology research in the area of renewable energy generation in Hickory Hills Park that belongs to the Black Hawk County Conservation Board.

At the time of this proposal submission, the installation of the tower was completed and the power house was constructed. The wind generator and the electrical components were ordered and installed. Battery connections were completed and the battery bank is now ready to be charged by wind generator. The boring of the deck area for hydro power generation is completed, a pelton-type micro-hydro turbine and generator was installed.

Student involvement in this project and similar research projects has helped the EIET Program – Iowa’s first and only four-year Engineering Technology Program which was established in 2002. The program had a 17 enrollment increase in the last academic year and a 24 enrollment increase this year. A number of students with AAS degrees in Electronics Engineering Technology from Iowa Community Colleges are now interested in continuing their BS degree studies at UNI rather than leaving Iowa.

The Cedar Falls/Waterloo communities have grown steadily, and unless we implement a number of small or large-scale clean-energy projects, we may anticipate increased air pollution due to the electrical demand and more coal combustion in the area power plants. The micro-hydro/wind/solar are key technologies already deployed in Iowa’s power generating community and a combination of all three in an educational environment will be a unique opportunity for lowans.

Project Objectives:

1) To supply a renewable energy based clean electricity to the Hickory Hills Park, located in 3338 Hickory Hills Rd, La Porte City, Iowa 50651. The electrical load in the park includes cabins, camping area outlets, a park ranger house, park workshop, RV outlets, and one animal shelter protecting many varieties of endangered species in Iowa. The park management has experienced increased electrical utility prices and this renewable system will work perfectly for the park’s some of the electricity needs. In addition to ongoing hydro and wind renewable power system, a 1.2 kW Photovoltaic system must be designed and installed.

2) As of October 2005, more than 13,000 people have visited Hickory Hills Park yearly. The project has an excellent potential to be used as an educational tool for lowans. A combination of micro-hydro/wind/photovoltaic power system will be demonstrated for the general public in all backgrounds. An educational corner in the project area explaining how the overall module as an alternative source of energy works, advantages of the overall system, and impacts to environment will be displayed for the park visitors. Since the PI of the project, Dr. R. Pecen, teaches a general education class, Environment, Technology, and Society (ETS) to about 80 students from all majors yearly; the renewable energy system will be used as an educational tool for these students also.