To understand how a wind turbine works, it is important to understand how wind energy works on a basic level. Wind is a form of solar energy because the sun is the source that creates wind by the uneven heat on the atmosphere, how irregular the earth’s surface is, and the earth’s rotation. Wind energy is the process where wind is used to create electricity. Wind turbines are used to turn kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical power. An easy way to explain a wind turbine is to use a fan as an example. A fan and a wind turbine are the exact opposite of each other. A fan uses electricity to create wind whereas a wind turbine uses wind to create electricity. This project will allow students to see how this works on a smaller scale with this design. This project can be best used in a classroom or home setting to teach students how wind turbines work on a basic level. This addresses STL16 - Energy through technology.
Materials and Parts
o 1x 5/16” bolt
o 2x ¼” washer
o 2x 8mm bearing
o 7x 5/16” nut
o 1x 7” diameter wooden or plastic disc between 1/8 and ¼” thick
o 3x plastic water bottles with lids o 1x DC motor
· Equipment and tools
o Scroll saw if you cut a disc out
o Can also be used to cut out the holes for the bottles
o 5/16” drill bit
o 1” drill bit
o Plastic that could be used could be a frisbee or a lid from the dollar store
o Wood was just scrap wood used from the lab
o Water bottles were $1.50 each
o Bolt was $0.98
o Washers were $3.50 for a pack of 25
o Bearings were $0.98 each
o Nuts were $3.50 for a pack of 25
o Motor was free
· Approximate Total Cost: $9
Step 1: Prepare the Disk
o You are going to create a 7 in diameter disc, it can be made out of either wood or plastic, but we found that creating the holes was much easier to do with wood as the disk. The plastic would break and was difficult to control sizing with.
o Next necessary step is to make space for the water bottle caps to fit into. The three holes should be spaced 120 degrees apart and roughly 3 inches from the center of the disk. This worked best for us in relation to the size of our bottles.
o Spacing may depend on the diameter of the bottle closely grouped bottles work best so that air does not pass between them
o Use 5/16” bit to cut a hole in the center
o In this order assemble the bolt onto the disk
(Washer)(disk)(washer)(nut)(nut) ---- (nut)(nut)(bearing)(nut)(bearing)(nut)(nut)
Step 2: Prepare the Bottles
o We chose to use Smart Water bottles because they seemed to be sturdier than other options and because they are taller which makes them more efficient than the traditional 16-ounce water bottle. However, any size water bottle will still create effective results.
o Cut off the sides of the bottles effectively creating a scoop of sorts to catch the wind. Apply the same cuts to each of the 3 bottles
o If the lids of the bottles don’t have flip open caps cut a hole in them so that the water may drain out
o Insert the neck of the bottles into the holes cut in the disk with the openings in the sides perpendicular to the edge of the circle the openings should all face one direction around the disk whether that is clockwise or counterclockwise it is your choice
Step 3: Create the Base
o We found another piece of scrap wood to use for the base of our wind turbine to hold it all together. The piece we picked was perfect because it was thick enough to hold everything together.
o We drilled another 1-inch hole that will keep the project in place and steady
Step 4: Install the Motor
o Attach the motor to the side of the mounting block, with the drive shaft parallel to the shaft of the turbine.
o Using either gears or other linkage (we used some high strength bands) connect the shaft of the motor to the turbine. The direct linkage will cause the turning of the turbine to induce a current in the DC motor, which can then be used to power electronic devices. The concept is identical to that of a dynamo.
Step 5: Use the Project
o In a windy spot, mount your turbine in a spot off of the ground, between 5 and 20 feet. Try to find a place that is not near any objects that might block wind, such as buildings, trees, etc.
o Because the turbine is designed to spin only in one direction, the current from the motor should always be the same polarity. Connect the electronic device to the terminals of the motor to capture the current.