2009 Spring Speaker Series

Campus Bioenergy: Greening MTU Infrastructure

Mike Reid, COO LíAnse Warden Electric Co. discussed logistics of implementing CHP on MTUís campus. The LíAnse Warden Electric Co. went online in October 2008 with an 18 MW biomass cogeneration facility that produces electricity and heat from a variety of fuels which include both industrial wood waste and forest biomass. The talk addresses the barriers and benefits to combined heat and power, the performance of the plant to date and how MTUs carbon footprint could be reduced through a similar power production strategy.[Contact for a Copy of Presentation]

A Systems Approach to Studying Sustainability of Infrastructure Systyems

Dr. Amlan Murkerjee, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil and Env. Engineering
The integration of sustainability into investment and operating decisions of civil infrastructure systems (transportation networks, water supply networks, sewer systems etc.) poses the challenge of redefining the boundaries of the problem at hand to include the context within which it is situated. Traditional engineering approaches to problem solving tend to be mechanistic and exact, rooted in reductionist analysis methods that do not consider the contexts within which the engineered system is operated. Sustainable decision-making, on the other hand, demands a paradigm shift that requires the inclusion of socio-economic-environmental contexts. It involves an understanding of how available resources are invested across different agencies and stakeholders. The use of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) in the design of transportation systems is a significant first step. However there remains the need to enhance it by further involving metrics and measures of how available resources are invested across different stakeholders to best meet societal demand, mitigate environmental impact while maintaining economic vitality. This effort extends existing research (Muga et. al 2008, 2009) that has focused on specific components of transportation decision-making, to an integrated systems framework that defines relationships critical to guiding sustainable decision-making in transportation systems. The research uses a system dynamics approach in conjunction with existing life-cycle approaches to investigate the relationships between sub-system metrics and system level metrics, and understand critical trade-offs that inform long term decision-making. The goal of the research is to develop a decision support system that helps decision-makers in public and private agencies consider intermodal interactions, environmental and socio-economic impacts across different temporal and system scales.
[Contact for a Copy of Presentation]

Integration of Electric Generation Resources for the Nexxt Generation Utility: Bringing High Penetrations of Wind Energy onto the Electric Grid

Jonah Levine, Research Faculty, UC Boulder
The de-carbonization of the electric utility grid and the move to greater penetration of renewable energy generation are underway. Variability in renewable generation is a challenge to integration, wind energy starts, stops, and ramps relative to wind speed. That variability is a challenge in light of the supporting system resources on the electric grid to manage that variation. As the amount of variable generation increases relative to dispatchable generation this challenge become more acute. Electric energy users demand reliable, economically effective, and now environ mentally sound electric energy supplies. How can the above goals of reliability, economics, and environmental rigor be met? These goals will be met by the "tiling" of traditional and renewable sources of energy to meet the user's loads and goals. Further topics include:

  • Modeled wind energy generation in multiple locations, highlighting overall production and rates of change
  • General information and simple models of traditional electric generation
  • A listing and discussion of flexible system resources that will allow for high penetrations of wind energy generation, to include; spatial diversity, demand response, and energy storage.

The talk concludes with Michigan-specific integration via energy storage options.[Contact for a Copy of Presentation]