Around the Rivers: RMU Students Generate Electricity from Mine Drainage

The turbine created will generate energy from mine drainage to run an air pump or water fountain to improve the habitat of a pond in Wingfield Pines.

Students from Robert Morris University are installing a small water-driven turbine at Allegheny Land Trust’s Wingfield Pines Conservation area in . 

The turbine will be driven from abandoned-mine drainage that flows from abandon coal mines under the South Hills.

The turbine is located inside the AMD overflow pipe that runs 24/7.

Advisors Dr. Yildrim Omurtag and Dr. Tony Kerzmann led the team of senior RMU engineering students, Eric Balent, Chris Chavez, Ben Schermerhorn and Brian Bevilacqua. The team has worked on the turbine design and fabrication since early January as part of their senior project.

"It’s very rewarding to work on a project that has real life implications, and to help Allegheny Land Trust improve the ecology at ," Eric Balent stated.

The energy generated will be used to aerate one of the ponds on the south end of the property that has low dissolved oxygen levels during the dry and hot months.

Duquesne University students have been monitoring the ponds for several years.

"Turning one of our region’s most visible and polluting industrial scars—abandon mine drainage—into a source of energy that improves the ecology of Wingfield Pines is exciting," said Roy Kraynyk, the trust’s director of land protection.

Wingfield Pines is located across Mayview Road from the .

Allegheny Land Trust has protected 1,500 acres in 22 municipalities since incorporating in 1993.  The mission of Allegheny Land Trust is to help local people save local land that contributes to the scenic, recreational, educational and environmental well being of our communities. 

What do you think about the RMU students' project in Wingfield Pines? Tell us in the comments.


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