University of Iowa researcher K.K. Choi used to study military vehicles, now he’s looking at improving wind turbines.
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Improving wind turbine reliability has become a national priority in recent years. The U.S. Department of Energy highlighted reliability in its July 2008 report on increasing wind generation to 20 percent of the nation’s electricity supply by 2030.
If the nation is to reach that goal, it’s believed that the number of costly, unplanned repairs to wind turbines will need to be reduced, which will bring down the overall cost of wind power.
“To beat or to be competitive with fossil-fuel based energy sources, the biggest challenge in wind energy is reliability,” said Choi, whose research revolves around fatigue analysis using computer modeling technology.
Choi’s computer models have been applied to everything from the Ford Taurus to Stryker tanks. A tool he developed for the U.S. Army predicts how slight design changes would affect the cost, durability and reliability of vehicles and their components.
The modeling tool created by Choi is more advanced than others because it takes into account uncertainties such as tiny variations in the materials and manufacturing precision, as well as the conditions in which the vehicles are driven.