Lab explores energy alternatives

Argonne is currently meeting renewable energy goals through purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). The laboratory has also met the requirement to have one renewable energy generating system on site.

Extensive work has been done to evaluate use of biomass for steam production. A series of production-scale test burns was performed in FY 2009 using wood and agricultural by-product pellets mixed with coal. Although both biomass mixes posed challenges with respect to their handling, the emissions results were positive.

Biomass test

Agricultural byproduct pellets were used in test burns at Argonne's Steam Plant.

The southwest quadrant of the Argonne campus was identified as the area best suited for wind turbines. Engineers also evaluated the feasibility of installing roof-mounted wind turbines. The laboratory is currently meeting with vendors to forward the discussions on the feasibility of installing new high-conductance wind turbines.

Current wind and solar technologies have payback periods of up to 75 years. However, with the ongoing advances in technology and materials, Argonne is reassessing the feasibility of solar and wind systems, especially to offset planned growth in high performance computing. Due to its leadership in energy storage systems, Argonne is well-positioned to couple intermittent renewable energy generation— such as solar and wind — with technology that can store the energy to meet load demands.

Posted Feb. 24, 2011