Dr. Thomas Acker
Dr. Tom Acker is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at
Northern Arizona University, where he has been since 1996 after receiving a PhD
in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University. He is currently the director of NAU’s
Sustainable Energy Solutions Group, and teaches and performs research related
to energy systems and renewable energy.
During 2003-04 he spent a sabbatical year working at the
National Wind Technology Center of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
(NREL) in Colorado, focused on grid integration issues related to wind and
hydropower resources, as well as region-wide transmission planning. He
previously spent three months in 1997 on a faculty fellowship to the National
Wind Technology Center studying wind turbine aerodynamics.
Acting on behalf NREL, he is the “Operating Agent” in charge
of leading an international effort to study wind and hydropower integration for
the International Energy Agency. His recent research activities include wind
power integration, wind flow modeling via meso-scale and micro-scale (CFD)
methods, wind assessment, water/energy projects, Native American applications
of renewable energy, and agricultural/energy projects. He also recently led an
effort at NAU to plan a new Master’s of Science in Engineering degree with an
emphasis in Sustainable Systems Engineering.
- PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Colorado State
University, December 1995
- MS, Mechanical Engineering, Colorado State
University, May 1990
- BS, Engineering Science, Colorado State
University, May 1987
Arizona University - Department of Mechanical
Responsible for teaching courses in Fluid Mechanics, Aerodynamics, Gas
Dynamics, Combustion, Thermodynamics, and Energy Systems. Areas of research
include renewable energy systems, wind turbine energy systems and
electrical system impacts, aerodynamics, combustion instabilities, and
high temperature gas dynamics.
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory,
Golden, Colorado. 9/03 – 4/04
Sabbatical Fellow, 2003- 2004 Academic Year; Studied the feasibility and impacts
of integrating wind electric and hydro electric generation resources on the
utility transmission grid.
- Faculty Fellowship, Summer 1997;
Performed research pertaining to the analysis of dynamic stall on wind-turbine
blades. Studied current analytical models of dynamic stall and experimental
data from an actual turbine rotor that demonstrate dynamic stall.
Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, 7/95 -
Software Engineer: Responsible for implementing modifications to the component
models of an atmospheric global circulation model run on Cray and IBM
supercomputers, to incorporate new capabilities, numerical approximations,
and physical parameterizations.
Systems Analysts of Colorado, Livermore, Colorado, 1991,
Consulting Engineer: Hired as a consultant to assist in modifying and
enhancing computer codes for predicting liquid rocket engine acoustic
combustion stability. Contract work funded by Aerojet-GenCorp and NASA.
Propulsion Laboratory, Tehachapi, California, 1990.
Research Engineer: Performed experimental and analytical investigations
into the operation and performance of advanced electric rocket designs;
special focus on hydrogen arcjet thrusters and an innovative electrostatic
Courses and topics usually taught
- fluid mechanics
- gas dynamics
- energy systems
- thermal-fluid system analysis
- aerodynamics system analysis
- viscous fluid mechanics
- combustion-driven acoustic instabilities
- renewable energy systems
- statistical thermodynamics
- compressible gas dynamics
- wind turbine aerodynamics
Honors, awards, and professional activities
- Professor of the Year Award, College of
Engineering and Technology, 2001-02 Academic Year
- Mechanical Engineering Professor of the Year,
Northern Arizona University, 2000-01 Academic Year
- Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Graduate
Student, Awarded by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1992
- Awarded the Colorado Graduate Fellowship, 1991
- Awarded the Rockwell International Graduate
- Outstanding Student Achievement Award, Awarded
by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1987
- Cumulative research funding awarded at NAU:
$25,500,000 (through 1-09)
- Master’s students advised: 16
- Operating Agent for the International Energy
Agency Annex on the Integration of Wind and Hydropower Systems, on behalf of
the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 5-04 – present
- Director, NAU Sustainable Energy Solutions
Group, 2001-2003, 2005 - present
- Member, Journal Editorial Board, Wind
Engineering, 2007 – present
- Reviewer, ASME Journal of Solar Energy
Engineering, ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, Wind Energy
- Member, ASME, AWEA, ASES, ASHREA, ASEE, AIAA,
- Member, Governor’s Solar Energy Advisory
Council, AZ Department of Commerce (2000-2003)
- Acker, T, Zavadil, R., Potter, C.P., and R.
Flood, (2008) “Wind Integration Cost Impact Study for the Arizona Public
Service Company: Modeling Approach and Results,” Wind Engineering, Vol. 4, No.
30, 2008, pgs. 339-354, special issue on wind integration.
- Holttinen H., Milligan, M., Kirby, B., Acker,
T., Neimane, V., and T.Molinski, (2008) “Using standard deviation as a measure
of increased operational reserve requirement for wind power,” Wind Engineering,
Vol. 4, No. 30, 2008, pgs. 355-378, special issue on wind integration.
- Acker, T.L., (2008) “Special Editorial: Wind
Integration Issue,” Wind Engineering, Vol. 4, No. 30, pgs.iii-iv.
- Acker, T.L., Atwater, C., Glauth, M., Smith,
D.H., and E. Wolf, (2008) “Energy and Water Use in Arizona Agriculture,”
accepted for publication in Energy Sources, Part B, July 2008.
- Williams, S, Acker, T, and M Greve, “Estimating
the Economic Benefits of Wind Energy Projects using Monte Carlo Simulation with
Economic I/O Analysis," accepted for publication in Wind Energy, 2008.
- Acker, T, Williams, S, Duque, E, Brummels, G,
& Buechler, J., “Wind Resource Assessment in the state of Arizona:
Inventory, Capacity Factor, and Cost,” Renewable Energy 32 (2007) 1453-1466.
- Acker, T.L., (2007), Chapter 7: Task 24
Integration of Wind and Hydropower Systems, In IEA Wind Energy Annual Report
2006, Implementing Agreement for Co-operation in the Research, Development, and
Deployment of Wind Energy Systems, PWT Communications: Boulder, CO, 272 pages,
- Smith, D. H., Acker, T., & Jones, C. (2007),
“Energy Planning for Indian Nations within the WRAP: A Field Guide,” American
Indian Culture and Research Journal, 30 (4).
- Acker T., Auberle, W., LaRoche, D. , Eastwood,
J. , Ormond, A., Slack, R., and Smith, D. H., (2006), “Recommendations for
Reducing Energy Consumption and Improving Air Quality through Energy Efficiency
on Native American Lands,”. Energy Sources, Part B (1), 223-234.
- Smith, J.C, Parsons, B., Acker, T., Milligan,
M., Zavadil, R., Schuerger, M., and DeMeo, E., “Best Practices in Grid
Integration of Variable Wind Power: Summary of Recent US Case Study Results and
Mitigation Measures,” Proceedings of the 2007 European Wind Energy Conference,
Milan, Italy, May 2007.
- Acker, T., “IEA Task 24: Integration Wind and
Hydropower Systems,” Proceedings of the 2006 Global Wind Power Conference,
Adelaide, Australia, September 2006.
- Acker, T., Knitter, K., Conway, K., and Buechler,
J., "Wind and Hydropower Integration in the Grant County Public Utility
District, Washington," Hydrovision 2006, Portland, OR, August 2006.