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RMU Students Generate Electricity from Abandoned Mine Drainage

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pittsburgh -- Students from Robert Morris University recently installed a small water-driven turbine at Allegheny Land Trust’s Wingfield Pines Conservation area. The turbine is driven from abandoned mine drainage (AMD) that flows from abandoned coal mines under the South Hills.

The turbine was installed inside the AMD overflow pipe that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The team of senior RMU engineering students, Eric Balent, Chris Chavez, Ben Schermerhorn, and Brian Bevilacqua are led by advisors Yildrim Omurtag and Tony Kerzmann. 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 Wingfield Pines," says Balent.

The energy generated is to 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” says Roy Kraynyk, the trust’s director of land protection.

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. To learn more about Allegheny Land Trust visit or call 412-741-2750.

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.