Renewable Energy Center


Redfield Campus

From the moment when the Redfield Campus was conceived in the mid-1990s, the notion of the campus becoming a center for research and renewable energy development was not far-flung.

Access to one of northern Nevada’s most active geothermal areas was located close to the Redfield Campus in south Reno. Couple favorable geography with the brainpower of some of the University of Nevada’s top renewable energy researchers, and today Redfield’s Renewable Energy Center stands to make a profound impact on the future of the state’s renewable energy portfolio.

The Renewable Energy Center’s rapid development could not come at a more opportune time. The grand challenge of this century has become providing sufficient energy to meet the needs of a growing world population now numbering in excess of six billion; yet, somewhere between 1.5 to 2 billion people today have no real access to energy services due to cost and the world’s narrow reliance on oil-based energy resources. Finding clean sources to power and heat the world, with minimal impact on the environment, has become a must.

Just one example of such research is work currently being conducted by one of the University’s most respected engineering professors, Dr. Kwang Kim. Kim’s research at Redfield has focused on novel heat transfer enhancement techniques in condensers for use in geothermal power plants, as well as thermal compression of hydrogen utilizing geothermal energy.

In both instances, Kim’s work is helping close the gap between the reality and the possibility of geothermal energy, with the ultimate goal to make geothermal a more viable, less costly source than other forms of energy.

“The Redfield Campus is located near a significant geothermal resource, the ‘Steamboat Hot Springs,’” Kim explains. “From the beginning, I’ve been impressed by Redfield’s classrooms, its research space and its location.”

The Redfield Campus could become one of the nation’s truly unique learning/research centers for renewable energy, combining undergraduate and graduate renewable energy instruction with cutting-edge research and invaluable community outreach interaction.

“It is a great location to work with private companies on research projects since Redfield provides space both inside and outside of the building, and it provides great classrooms for educating students on renewable energy,” says Ted Batchman, the curriculm group lead. “Having renewable resources available at Redfield will be a great educational tool. We’re also looking at developing a renewable energy visitors center at the campus to educate both adults and K-12 students about what we can all do to solve the energy and environment problems of our world.”

Given that Redfield Campus was conceived as a collaborative and flexible learning environment, it shouldn’t be surprising that Batchman has already brokered some unusual – yet attractively successful – educational partnerships.

Since 2008, Batchman has team-taught a cross-listed introductory course through the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts’ Department of Political Science on renewable energy. The course is part of the University’s new interdisciplinary renewable energy minor.

The collaboration, says Christopher Simon, associate professor of political science, is indicative of the potential that Redfield represents.

“Redfield serves as a great location for community and industry outreach aspects of renewable energy,” says Simon, a nationally recognized expert on alternative energy. “Redfield in many ways is a perfect location for renewable energy study, education and research. In terms of teaching, Redfield is well-situated for possible educational access to developed geothermal energy sites at Steamboat. Wind and solar patterns in the area would make it feasible for demonstration of wind and solar energy systems. From a research perspective, Nevada’s high-quality geothermal resources could make the campus a center of excellence, attracting national and international scholars.”