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Construction of a wind turbine drivetrain testing facility at Clemson University's Restoration Institute will achieve another milestone today, as engineers from Choate Construction pour 1,900 cubic yards of concrete into a pit in order to form the 15 MW test rig foundation.

The building's foundation is almost the equivalent of seven stories deep, and the pit already has approximately 450 tons of reinforcing steel weighing roughly the equivalent of 250 midsize cars, Clemson says, adding that there will be about 3,500 tons of concrete poured into the foundation base. The massive pour will last through the night to take advantage of generally calmer weather conditions and minimize traffic congestion, and is expected to take up to 12 hours.

The operation has taken months of planning and thousands of hours of preparation and field work. Engineers must consider environmental conditions and other factors that could cause an inconsistent flow of concrete. In May 2012, the engineering team from Choate poured the foundation for the smaller test rig. The pour for the 7.5 MW test rig required 750 cubic yards of concrete.

The project involves completely redeveloping an 82,000 square-foot warehouse on the former Navy base. The engineering design was performed by Minneapolis-based AEC Engineering.

In November 2009, Clemson and its partners were awarded a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, which was combined with $53 million of matching funds, to build and operate the large-scale testing facility for next-generation wind turbine drivetrains. When complete later this year, the facility will have the capability for full-scale, highly accelerated testing of advanced drivetrain systems for wind turbines in the 5 MW to 15 MW range.

It also will have 50 Hz and 60 Hz testing capability, which means it can accommodate test specimens destined for anywhere in the world, according to Clemson.


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