Thanks to a joint venture between Washtenaw Community College and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States, Canada and Australia [UA]the college will soon house a micro-turbine – the latest in cutting-edge technology for power generation and electricity savings.
Approximately the size of a refrigerator, micro-turbines offer a number of advantages compared to other technologies for small-scale power generation. These advantages include a small number of moving parts, a light-weight compact size, greater efficiency, lower emissions, lower electricity costs, and opportunities to utilize waste fuels.
The micro-turbine is expected to be up-and-running in August 2014 and will be located in room 141 in the Larry L. Whitworth Occupational Education building. WCC students will be able to observe its installation and see first-hand how the micro-turbine works.
Using natural gas, the micro-turbine will tie into the college’s electrical distribution system, enabling the college to generate its own clean, reliable power [onsite] in a very economical manner, diminishing the need for outside electricity the college must purchase. It will also provide the college greater control over the cost, quality and availability of its current power supply.
“When completed, the proposed combined cooling, heating, and power system (micro-turbine) will provide an important instructional and teaching tool as a functioning system to the UA and WCC, while providing energy and cost savings, as much as $60,000 annually, directly to the College,” said Damon Flowers, associate vice president for Facilities Development and Operations.
Flowers continued, “Having a great partner like the UA to invest not only in its own training program, but also in the College and the community we serve, speaks volumes to their commitment to continue to provide cutting-edge training opportunities for their members and our students as well.”
The micro-turbine is strongly endorsed by the WCC Environmental Committee, the Climate Action Task Force, Sustainability Literacy Task Force and the Facilities Management department. Each organization is a consortium of WCC faculty, staff and students who are committed to improving how the college uses its resources to positively impact the natural environment that surrounds it. President Bellanca demonstrated her support by pledging her commitment to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment organization.
The installation of the micro-turbine coincides with the 25th year WCC will host the annual UA Instructor Training program (ITP) in early August. This innovative program allows members of the UA – which includes plumbers, pipe fitters, sprinkler fitters and service technicians from across the United States – to be trained at the college’s Great Lakes Regional Center – enabling them to become better educators and to enhance their skills and craftsmanship – which in turn, contribute to a growing and vibrant economy by providing the highest levels of competence for highly sought after skilled trades jobs.
“I could not be more proud to see how our ongoing and evolving partnership with the UA will bring this remarkable micro-turbine technology to our campus,” said Bellanca. “So many constituencies will benefit from the energy and cost savings the micro-turbine will bring, including our students, faculty, staff, administration and community members. I remain committed to having WCC continue to focus our efforts to be a good steward of the earth’s natural resources. We all have a vested interest in preserving the natural resources that surround us, and this forward thinking will assure that future generations are able to enjoy the vibrant, healthy campus experience that we all enjoy today.”