BP Annual Gift to Support Wind Lab, Students
December 14, 2009
Lindsay Lewis

As part of an annual contribution to the University of Houston, BP representatives presented a $85,500 check to Dean Joseph Tedesco last week in support of Cullen College of Engineering educational initiatives.

The largest portion of the gift will support the college's Wind Energy Undergraduate Laboratory Experiment. BP has committed $50,000 to the UH Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering to construct a wind tunnel for students to learn the fundamentals of converting wind energy to electrical power.

"The undergraduate laboratory is a critical aspect in the undergraduate learning experience in chemical engineering and having experiments that are relevant to current topics of interest is an important aspect of their training," said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, Dow Chair Professor and chair of the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering. "The gift from BP is significant because it allows the department to develop teaching laboratory experiences that go beyond the traditional petrochemical industry relevant experiments."

Through the project, students will test the different variables contributing to the overall challenge surrounding wind energy conversion. A variety of experiments will be carried out to test wind velocity, air density, and the impact of the wind turbine blade's geometry and configuration.

"The experiment allows students to study the intricacies of an important alternative energy source that may contribute as much as 20 percent of the electricity needs of the U.S. by 2030," said Charles Rooks, research and instructional professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and director of the wind energy undergraduate laboratory. "UH is poised to lead in the efforts of alternative energy, especially in wind energy with the ongoing establishment of the national wind blade testing center on campus."

Of the remaining funds, $27,500 is allocated for unrestricted departmental support and $8,000 provided to several engineering students organizations to help with travel expenses and annual social and community service events.

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