This is a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine which uses wind energy to drive things like air and water pumps for cooling, irrigation and similar, or an alternator/generator for producing electricity.

Note: this tutorial is also available at http://solarflower.org/tutorial.php?lang=en&tut=vawt with a slightly more usable layout.

The turbine uses the 35-40% mechanically efficient Lenz2 lift+drag design. It is made entirely from scrap materials except for the bolts and pop rivets, and should cost about $15-$30 for the six vane version, which can be made by two people in six hours without much effort.

The three vane version has been successfully survival tested to 80 km/h sustained winds and the six vane version to 105 km. Both will do more, but exactly how much has not yet been ascertained.

Full power curves have yet to be calculated for this particular build, but according to Mr Ed Lenz's calculator (http://windstuff.org/calc/calc.php) a six vane at 0.93 meters diameter and 1.1 meters high with a 90% efficient alternator should produce at least 135 watts of electricity in a 30 km/h wind, and 1.05 kilowatts at 60 km/h.

The materials listed in this tutorial are to make the three vane version. Double everything except the bike wheel for six vanes.

Step 1: Tools and Materials


Power drill

4mm metal drill bit

Craft knife / scalpel / exacto

20mm x 20mm angle aluminium
About 1 meter long, an extra ~30cm length can also be handy. To be used for ruling and bending.

Tape Measure

Pop Riveter

Probably 7mm, 15mm and 17mm - to fit your M4 nuts and the nuts on the bike wheel axle

Bike Cone Spanner

Marker Pen

Sticky Tape

4 Clothes Pegs
Springy or the other kind.

A small bit of wood
For drilling into.

Computer and printer
Low quality black and white is fine.

2 pieces A4 paper


12 Aluminium lithographic offset printing plates
These are pure aluminium sheets used in a printing process fairly common with newspapers and magazines. A medium sized printing company may scrap hundreds of plates every week, so it's usually easy to pick them up cheap. Ring around any local companies offering offset printing.
This tutorial is for plates which are 67cm wide by 56cm tall. There doesn't really seem to be any size in particular which is standard, if you can only get plates which are larger than 67cm then either scale up the measurements (though that is the size which best fits a 27 inch bike wheel, which is generally the largest you can get) or trim the plates down to that size. If you can only get smaller than scale the design down and use a smaller wheel.
The 56cm length really doesn't matter at all. The taller the vanes the more energy you'll get. The relevant steps in the tutorial will tell you how to accommodate other lengths.

126 4mm diameter pop rivets
About 5mm long.

18 M4 bolts and nuts
About 15-20mm long

18 spring washers
To fit the M4 bolts

42 washers
4mm inner diameter to fit the pop rivets, about 10-15mm outer

27 inch bike wheel
Exactly how bike wheels are measured is slightly complicated, basically you want one which is 64cm total outer rim diameter. You can use other sizes for smaller turbines, adjust the other dimensions accordingly.
It doesn't matter if it's a bit rusty but needs to run smoothly and not wobble. You don't need the tire or inner tube.

6 bike wheel spokes
Any length. Some kind of thickish wire or similar would also suffice.

The two construction drawing links don't work. (On solarflower.org, they end in "pdf", not "jpg".)
<p>Cheers, fixed now.</p>
<p>Very cool and detailed instructions. Did you ever test it out to see how many watts was produced? Did you try it with a car alt? Thanks. </p>
<p>It's in the process of being field implemented and tested.</p>
<p>Really great stuff. I'd like to try to hook this up to a car alternator, did you end up trying that ?</p>
<p>Not yet but it's definitely on the list of things to try soon. Car alts need to be revved fairly high (at least 1200 - 1500 rpm before they come in) which with this turbine is achievable as you can lash a chain around the bike rim and effectively get a 60cm sprocket. They're also not very efficient at about 50%, but given how cheap and common they are, and that they usually have a charge controller built in, it can be well worth it as an option in some circumstances.</p>
<p>Ok me too, after I get the turbine built. I read this http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~nathan/nepal/ghatta/alternator.html , which talks about hooking up ohms in series to reduce the amount of revs needed from car alts, but I can't figure out _where_ to put them!</p>
<p>I started a FB group for stuff like this, there's a few electrical engineers in there:</p><p>https://www.facebook.com/groups/makers.without.borders/</p>
I wonder if a belt/cord would work better when wrapping around the wheel for higher rpm. Lower weight and friction and potentially less slop than a chain.
<p>I tried for a while to get a rope drive to work with no luck, a belt would probably be workable but would need to be pretty long and require quite a bit of tension. Some people in Argentina were trying to get that to work with the turbine but struggled. </p><p>A bike chain with a little bit of tension should be ok in terms of friction and rattle. They're quite efficient.</p>
<p>Very impressive. The construction video was so cool to watch as each piece came together. </p>

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