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New turbine donation allows Colorado State University to 'make our world a little more sustainable'

CSU using renewable energy to teach students
CSU using renewable energy to teach students 02:09

Colorado State University is now on the leading front of research universities after obtaining a 3.5 megawatt gas turbine donation. The turbine, donated by Solar Turbines, is the largest research turbine of its type on any campus in the United States and is being prepared for installation at CSU's Powerhouse campus in northern Fort Collins.

Bret Windom, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, said the new turbine comes as the federal government has invested billions of dollars into the exploration of hydrogen-based power.

"Traditionally these gas turbines operate on natural gas. Hydrogen is much more reactive," Windom told CBS4's Dillon Thomas.


CSU's Powerhouse campus is located in the old city power plant just off of College Avenue in Fort Collins. Built just along the Cache la Poudre River, the facility now researches the future of solar, wind and hydro powers.

Windom said the new turbine will allow students to study how to bolster renewable energy.

"When we have excess renewable energy like wind turbines and solar panels we can store that energy in hydrogen to be used later. And, we can generate the hydrogen from water. So, it is renewably sourced. And, when it burns, the only emission from hydrogen ideally would be water vapor. So no Co2 emissions," Windom said.

When in operation it will take the turbine only one hour to create enough energy to power the average American home for three months.

"Its life cycle is very green, and it will allow us to use more renewable energy," Windom said. "We can use this water through green electricity, create hydrogen and then burn that hydrogen in a gas turbine when we need power. That is when the renewables aren't keeping up with the demand."

Windom said the goal is to one day have the turbine plugged into the grid to produce energy and export it to residents in Fort Collins.

"It is going to play a big part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making our world a little more sustainable," Windom said.

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