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Lab to feature renewable energy sources

Oregon Tech’s Wilsonville campus announced recently it has received the funding needed to construct and equip a new, state-of-the-art energy lab for its renewable energy engineering department.

The money will come from the M.J. Murdock Trust, a legacy of Melvin “Jack” Murdock, a co-founder of the Tektronix Company that still casts a large shadow over the American tech industry. The size of the grant was not announced.

The new lab is essentially a package deal. The Heliocentris New Energy Lab allows students to work directly with solar, wind, hydrogen and grid energy systems, according to the university. It combines energy generation and storage from those energy sources and adds a central management unit and system controller.

The lab typically produces enough power to run a household appliance, allowing students to compare various sources of energy.

The lab will feature a small solar array, hydrogen fuel cells, a small wind turbine and more. This allows each technology to be studied separately or in combination.

It can be connected to the wider energy grid or used off-line. In either case, the monitoring and control software allow for extensive data collection and analysis, helping students understand the nature of each technology and how they interact under different weather or other variable conditions.

Oregon Tech was the first university in the United States to offer an undergraduate degree in renewable energy engineering.

Today, it is home to the Oregon Renewable Energy Center, where students and professors work in collaboration with industry.

Upon completion of this project and the 2.0 MW solar array project with Solar City, Oregon Tech may become the first university in North America to reach a major goal to generate most - if not all - electrical power needed for its campus.

For more information, visit oit.edu.

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