Serving the High Plains

Mesalands official says he has lead on hub

The director of Mesalands Community College's wind-energy program said last week he had a lead on acquiring a hub to go with a donated wind-turbine nacelle that wind-technology students use in classes.

Jim Morgan, who also is vice president of campus affairs and external relations, said during the board of trustees meeting July 20 a former FieldCore wind-energy trainee at the college who acquired the nacelle for Mesalands two years ago also has acquired a hub from a wind turbine from the Minco Wind farm in Oklahoma.

The hub connects the blades to the main shaft and to the rest of the drive train of a wind turbine. The nacelle is a cover housing that houses all of the generating components, including the generator, gearbox, drive train and brake assembly. Mesalands in 2019 transported the donated nacelle from a wind farm in Kansas for about $47,000 and set it up in a shop in its North American Wind Research and Training Center.

Morgan said the hub might be ready to pick up in as soon as two months.

"Boy, do I want to go get it," he said. "I don't know how much it will cost, but it won't be as much as the nacelle was."

Once Mesalands has acquired the hub, Morgan said officials would attach it to the nacelle in the shop. The hub would have stubbed blades only about 1 1/2 feet long.

Morgan said Mesalands would be able to teach wind-turbine technology students in the relative safety of the shop, compared to real-life repairs of the hub that occur more than 250 feet in the air.

"We would be able to train them on one of the most dangerous evolutions they have to go through," he said. "That's going to be an enormous improvement to our shop-area wind training program."

Morgan said the college also is a participant in grant program by the U.S. Department of Energy, New Mexico State University and National Renewable Energy Laboratory to determine how to reuse or recycle wind-turbine blades.

He said most turbine blades are buried in landfills once they reach the end of their useful life, which irks federal officials.

The grant program aims to determine through microfiber studies how close a wind-turbine blade is to requiring replacement.

The program also wants to develop ways to reuse spent blades. Morgan said one possibility being considered is grinding up the blades to be used as fill for road or building construction.