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An Energy Assessment of a Large Grain Storage and Transfer Facility in Michigan: An Industry, University, and Public Utility Company Collaborative Effort Resulting in Energy Savings Outcomes

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Energy Conservation and Conversions for Green Buildings

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.154.1 - 24.154.18



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Paper Authors


Robert W. Fletcher Lawrence Technological University

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Robert W. Fletcher joined the faculty of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Lawrence Technological University in the summer of 2003, after several years of continuous industrial research, product development and manufacturing experience.

Dr. Fletcher earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington, in Seattle, Washington, a Master of Engineering in Manufacturing Systems from Lawrence Technological University, in Southfield, Michigan, and the Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering focusing on Electrochemical Engineering, both from the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

He teaches a number of alternative energy courses and is leading LTU's efforts to establish a full energy engineering program that addresses both alternative and renewable energy systems, as well as energy conservation and optimization of traditional energy systems. He also is the Director of the Alternative Energy program at Lawrence Tech.

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An energy assessment of a large grain storage and transfer facility in _________: An industry, university and public utility company collaborative effort resulting in energy savings outcomesABSTRACT: In the spring of 2012 _________ _________ University was approached by________ Energy (the local utility company) with funding to have students and faculty work onan applied research project with the ________ ________ __________, Inc. (_ _ _) to undertakean energy assessment of the _ _ _ ________, __ facilities. The _ _ _ is a private company in thebusiness of buying, selling, storage and distribution of agricultural commodities such as corn,wheat and other grains, dry beans and edible soya beans. Rising utility costs and fixedcommodities prices necessitated the need for a concerted effort by the _ _ _ to reduce theirenergy costs. ______ Energy was also interested in balancing the electric power utilitydistribution load in the predominantly rural area the _ _ _ facility is located. For this projectstudents served as part-time paid employees of the university working directly under thesupervision of university faculty.There were two major phases for this project. Phase 1 concentrated on establishing a reliable anduseful power and energy usage data acquisition capability, and testing grain hopper aeration anddrying fan systems both with and without the use of variable frequency drive power regulators.Phase 2 involved a full energy assessment of the _ _ _ _______ facility including grain receiving,grain drying (which uses electric and natural gas), outdoor temporary grain storage piles, outdoorsafety and security lighting, and office areas.This paper reviews how __________ _________ University engineering faculty brought studentsinto the project, and then how the student and faculty team directed, managed, and carried out allof the major tasks associated with the two major phases of this project. The nature of this projectmade it an excellent educational opportunity for students by providing them a real customer, realneeds, specific timelines, and required deliverables. Also reviewed are how students had multipleopportunities to set up experiments, collect and interpret testing data, and then report the finalresults of those energy usage data, management and savings. Because of the various partiesinvolved, there were several opportunities for students to interact with other business personnel,and technical specialists. Students directly involved in this project provide comments andfeedback that highlight the value of the project, and how they benefited from participating in theeffort. Lastly, a summary is provided for how future similar projects might be created, structuredand managed to assure successful projects with a broader use and application of the knowledgethey generate.

Fletcher, R. W. (2014, June), An Energy Assessment of a Large Grain Storage and Transfer Facility in Michigan: An Industry, University, and Public Utility Company Collaborative Effort Resulting in Energy Savings Outcomes Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20045

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