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Small Wind Turbine Basics 2

Small Wind Turbine Basics 2

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Published by gnostication
Learn LOW SPEED wind energy. Make plans and tutorials. Teach others energy self-sufficiency.
Learn LOW SPEED wind energy. Make plans and tutorials. Teach others energy self-sufficiency.

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Published by: gnostication on Jul 23, 2010
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August, 2005
Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter 
Page 17
Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter 
Page 17
Part 2
by Dan Fink
In the first part of this series of articles, I covered how tocalculate the power available in the wind and its relationshipto turbine swept area and wind speed, plus other mechanicaland electrical efficiency losses in a wind turbine. These lossesgive a realistic maximum Coefficient of power (Cp, or effi-ciency) of 35% of the power available in the wind for a smallturbine. This crucial formula is:
Expected power output (in Watts) =Cp ½ air density swept area wind velocitywhere:Cp = % efficiency loss of entire systemAir density = 1.23 kg per cubic meter at sea level(1.0 here in Colorado)Swept area is in square metersWind velocity is in meters per secondSo, a 10-foot (3.048 m) diameter wind turbine rotor gives a7.30 m swept area, and in a 10 mph (4.4704 m/s) wind, wecan expect no more than:Power output (Watts) =0.35 ½ 1.23 7.30 4.4704 = 140 Wattsand in a 20 mph wind:Power output (Watts) =0.35 ½ 1.23 7.30 8.9408 = 1123 Watts
Key concept
:double the windspeed, and the available power increases by afactor of 
Variable pitch blades
The most elegant, efficient and effective way to regulate in-coming power, and also the most expensive and complicatedto build.The blades can rotate in the hub and change the angle atwhich they hit the wind. All large utility-scale turbines use thismethod, regulated by sensors and active controls. Only a fewsmall turbines use variable pitch blades, notably the
.Jacobs has been building the system since the 1920s, and youcan still buy one new! The system is not high-tech, but isextremely effectivethe blade pitch changes mechanically
All wind turbines must have a way to deal with this massiveincrease in available power as the wind speed goes up. InPart 1 of this series (see ESSN July 2005), we discussed thedistribution of wind speeds, and how most wind comes to usat lower speeds. So, manufacturers try for the best perfor-mance between 7 and 30 mph, and design the turbine to sim- ply survive winds higher than that while still producingnear peak power. If the turbine was allowed to keep making power over 30 mph, it would  but only to the maximum power  production rating of its generator or alternator, which cantharvest much more power beyond that rating so the hugeamount of extra power in the wind will cause overheating,overspeeding, and possibly burn out the generator or causethe turbine to shed a blade.
**** ********
Continued on next page
600 kW utility-scale Advanced Research Turbine at NRELs NationalWind Technology Center near Golden, CO, USA. Note how thevariable-pitch blades are positioned so they cant make powertheturbine is shut down and cant spin. Photo by the author.
August, 2005
Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter 
Page 18
Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter 
Page 18
using a flyball governor and centrifugal force. In low winds,the blade pitch is very steep, and at peak output the blade pitch is very flatthis matches the blades angle of attack tothe apparent wind (more on apparent wind later). If windsincrease more, the blades pitch
flat, causing aerodynamicstall to prevent overspeeding.
Furling tail
This is the most common high wind regulation technique insmall wind turbines. The turbine frame is designed with a built-in offset, and the tail or the generator head is hinged bothupwards and inwards. When windspeed starts to approachthe generators maximum power output capacity, the tail or head folds up, yawing the machine at an angle to the wind.Thisreduces the effective swept area and thus the available power to the maximum power output level of the generator, so itcontinues to make peak power while furled. When wind speeddrops, the tail or head drops back into a normal configurationvia gravity and tracks the wind straight on once again.
Twisting blades
Some very small wind turbines use flexible plastic blades that bend, twist and flutter when power input gets too high for thegenerator to handle. This technique is effective, but also noisy.Some of the extra power in the wind is being turned directlyinto noise, and the sound of blades fluttering at high speed isvery distinctive. Its only used on very small turbines, and iseffective only using modern plastic blades that are highly re-sistant to fatigue.
This photo shows a home-built 17-foot diameter 3.5 kW turbine withthe tail in fully furled position. The machine is still making near maxi-mum power, but it facing at an angle into the wind to reduce windinput. Photo by Dan Bartmann.
Mechanical and air brakes
These regulation techniques are no longer used in commer-cial turbines because they are very noisy and prone to me-chanical failure from fatigue, rust, and ice. Nevertheless, Ihave to admit its exciting watching and hearing a 1930s vin-tage Wincharger deploy its air brakes during a gale!
Emergency shutdown
All wind turbines should have some mechanical or electricalway to shut them down (stop the blades from spinning) duringsevere weather events. These can including shorting the al-ternator phases, a crank that turns the tail into fully-furled position, or a mechanical brake. Theres no sense in abusingyour expensive turbine and tower by letting the machine runduring a hurricane, severe thunderstorm, or tornado, since themachine will make no more power in 100 mph winds than itwill in 30 mph winds if it is furling properly.Unless you are working with a tiny science fair project wind-mill thats capturing wind from an electric fan, some sort of regulation is needed or bits
fall off! Beware of any windturbine whose builder claims that it doesnt need to furl be-cause it is built so sturdily (tested to 100+mph!). But howmany times and for how long can it withstand such abuse?Also beware if the builder advises you to lower the turbine tothe ground if high winds are forecastit probably lacks ashutdown system.
Continued on next page
If you are considering buying or building a wind turbine for making electricity, youll almost certainly be comparison shop- ping for a modern, electricity producing, lift-based horizontalaxis machine. But by taking a look at some historical windturbine designs, it gets easier to explain the physics conceptsinvolved.
Drag vs. Lift
Wind turbines are divided into two types, drag machines andlift machines, based on the aerodynamic principles they uti-lize, and two more types - Horizontal Axis and Vertical Axismachines - depending on their physical configuration.Designs that use drag to make them spin are the oldest wayto harvest wind power, and the easiest to understand. The blades or cups push against the wind, and the wind pushesagainst the blades. The resulting rotation is very slow. Andthe blades or cups that are swinging back around after mak-ing power are hurting power output because they are moving
August, 2005
Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter 
Page 19
Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter 
Page 19
 Note the wall thats erected around the half of the machinethat is hurting performance by moving against the wind.
Inany drag-based design, the blades can never move fasterthan the wind
. This turns out to be a critical concept for bothefficiency and the ease of generating electrical power.Lift-based wind turbines are the standard now, but lift con-cepts have been in use for thousands of years. Mariners asearly as 3200 BC used lift whenever they took a boat withsails out onto the water and turned the sails to give the boatmaximum speed. An airfoil shape (just like the cross sectionof an airplane wing) gives lift, and has a curved surface ontop. Air moves over the curved top of the airfoil faster than itdoes under the flat side on the bottom, which makes a lower  pressure area on top, and therefore an upward forcethatslift. The key concept of lift and wind power is that
lift forcesallow the blade tips of a wind turbine to move fasterthan the wind is moving
Continued on next page
Looking down on a Panemone
an early design of a drag-based machine(just like a steamboat paddle)
HAWTs are what most people first think of when someonesays windmill  blades moving perpendicular to the ground.In a VAWT, the blades move parallel to the ground. BothHAWTs and VAWTs can be either drag or lift based, thoughonly lift designs are commonly used as they are reasonablyefficient for electricity generation. Below are some commonlyseen wind power designs, and explanations of the principleson which they work.
Dutch HAWTs
While not exclusively Dutch in origin, these machines were built all over Europe for grinding grain, and the earliest oneswere drag-based.
The Maud Foster grain-grinding mill, Boston, England. Builtin 1819, and still used for grinding grain commercially (and asa great tourist attraction) today. Photo by Ron Fey
The Dutch made major improvements circa 1390 AD by in-corporating lift into the blade design. The machine was pointedinto the wind manually by the operator.in the wrong direction, against the wind. The earliest examplesof drag-based wind power design are grain grinding and wa-ter pumping machines from Persia and China, with recordsdating back to 500-1500 AD.

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