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Wind

Earth and Space Science


For the Teacher
– Content Standard D:
“Earth in the solar system”
The use of fossil fuels is
Science and Technology
projected to decline during the lifetime
– Content Standard E:
of your students. Renewable energy is
“Abilities of technological design”
energy that can, during our lifetimes, be
“Understandings about science
renewed, typically with additional
and technology”
energy from the sun. Of course we
Science in Personal and Social
teach, and it is true, that energy cannot
Perspectives
be created. So we are not creating
– Content Standard F:
energy, we are simply making use of
“Science and technology in
energy that is sustainable. Drilling and
society”
digging fossil fuels out of the ground is
not a sustainable activity in the long
term. Examples of renewable energy Technology Description
include wind, solar, biomass and hydro-
electric. Wind energy is another source of
This unit focuses specifically on energy that has been used for
wind power. The wind blows due to thousands of years. Since earliest
differences in pressure and temperature recorded history, humans have been
between regions. The sun primarily harnessing the power of the wind.
drives these differences; therefore the There is evidence that sailing vessels
sun is even the source of wind power. operated along the Nile River as early as
Teachers should use this guide to 5000 B.C. And within several centuries
give ideas to students for science fair before the birth of Christ, simple
projects. Or this can be used in the windmills were used in China, Persia,
classroom to generate interest in hands and the Middle East to pump water and
on experimentation or as extra credit grind grain.
during an energy unit. In the American West, millions of
windmills were erected during the late
Science Content Standards: 5-8 nineteenth century, supplying water for
Science As Inquiry farms and ranches. By 1900, small wind
– Content Standard A: systems were developed to generate
“Abilities necessary to do direct current (dc) electricity, which was
scientific inquiry” stored in banks of batteries. Most of
“Understandings about scientific these wind systems were abandoned
inquiry” when inexpensive electricity was
Physical Science extended to rural areas under the rural
– Content Standard B: electrification programs during the
“Transfer of energy” 1930s.
Interest in wind power was
rekindled following the energy shortages

198
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of the 1970s. Since then, wind economics and performance of wind


machines have evolved into a reliable machines. By developing new, more
technology that can supply energy cost- efficient blade designs, engineers are
effectively in several regions of the helping extend the usefulness of wind
nation. Today’s machines use one of technologies into geographical regions
two designs: Horizontal-axis and with untapped wind resources. And by
vertical-axis. Horizontal-axis machines analyzing the wind flow patterns within
use propeller-like blades on a gearbox a wind farm, scientists hope to make
and generator, mounted atop a tower. predictions of wind farm performance
Vertical-axis machines look like two- more reliable.
bladed eggbeaters that rotate around a
central, vertical column. Resources:
The most common use of wind
turbines is in large groups called wind American Wind Energy Association.122
farms, which can provide enough C Street, NW, Suite 380Washington, DC
electricity for small cities. These 20001 phone (202) 383-2500 Fax (202)
applications now provide about 1500 383-2505
MW of electricity, mainly in California windmail@awea.org
and Hawaii. http://www.awea.org/
Wind technology has advanced
significantly since its initial Free Publications available online
implementation. In addition to aesthetic http://www.awea.org/pubs/compliment
improvements, the new megawatt-class ary.html
wind turbines produce higher quality,
utility-grade power and can be Wind Power Today and Tomorrow.
connected directly to conventional grids. (2004). 36pp.
These turbines supply enough power for http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/3491
300-600 homes and produce as much as 5.pdf
30 times the power of wind turbines of
the 1980s. Small Wind Electric Systems: A U.S.
Consumer's Guide. (2004). 27 pp
http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/3589
3.pdf

Picture of wind turbines located at the


National Wind Technology Center,
Boulder, CO.
Researchers are studying several
issues that could help improve the

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Project Ideas
mt/publist/400series/430310-
1.pdf, retrieved July 28, 2004
1 Calculate wind power
Special Safety and Environmental
potential in your city and
Concerns: None
compare to a typical solar
power of 1kW/m2.
Hints: Compare the sun’s average
peak power = 1 kW/m2 to the wind
Learning Objectives: Understand
that energy can not be created or power available in your area. Calculate
destroyed, but can be changed in form. wind power (1/2ρAV3) from turbine (ρ =
Appreciate the interaction of science air density, A = swept area, and V =
and technology and community. Create wind velocity). Record wind speeds
and use a mathematical model. over two week period from your local
weather reports and convert them to
Variables: Speed and duration of their average velocity in m/s. Calculate
wind, types and size and numbers of the swept area based on wind turbine
wind turbines. sizes you can find in resources in meters
squared (m2). Find air density values in
Special Equipment: None. This is a a reference book. Graph power created
mathematical model. versus number of turbines or average
wind speed. Compare this to how much
Specific Resources: land you would need to absorb the
(1) Lecture Notes from University of same amount of sun energy.
Oregon
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/ph162/l Other Ideas: Compare the cost of a
14.html given parcel of land used for collecting
(2) Clean Energy: How Solar Energy energy (wind and/or photovoltaics)
Works, versus other possible uses.
http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_en
ergy/renewable_energy_basics/h 2 Design and construct a wind
ow-solar-energy-works.html , vane and an anemometer.
retrieved July 29, 2004 Use them to measure and
(3) Melody, Ingrid, Photovoltaics: A compare wind direction and
Question and Answer Primer, speed at various sites.
HealthGoods,
http://www.healthgoods.com/Edu Learning Objectives: Understand
cation/Energy_Information/Rene how scientific measurements are done
wable_Energy/photovoltaics_Q_a and the importance of units and
nd_A.htm, retrieved July 28, accuracy.
2004
(4) July 1987, Photovoltaics: Sunlight Variables: Wind direction, wind speed,
to Electricity in One Step, British sites selected for comparisons
Colombia Ministry of Agriculture
and Food,
http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/resmg

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Special Equipment: Wood, nails, (2) What Makes an Airplane Fly,


plastic, cardboard, ping-pong balls, Aeronautics Learning Laboratory
Popsicle sticks, jar lid, pen for Science, Technology, and
Research,
Specific Resources: Search for http://www.allstar.fiu.edu/aero/flt
“Building an Anemometer” in your web midfly.htm
search engine. (3) Encarta Encyclopedia, 2004,
“Aerodynamics,”
Special Safety and Environmental http://encarta.msn.com/encyclope
Concerns: None dia_761557396/Aerodynamics.htm
l
Hints: Calibrate the vane with a (4) FIOLSIM II, NASA Glenn Research
compass. Calibrate the anemometer Institute,
(could be done through the window of a http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K
car with a parent). Compare different -12/airplane/foil4.html
sites for collecting wind energy.
Special Safety and Environment
Other Ideas: The design and Concerns: Take care when working
construction of a wind vane and/or an with electricity and fans.
anemometer for efficiency could be an
engineering project. Hints: Compare wings of different
shapes and sizes. Design a method of
3 Determine lift and drag
measuring lift, such as suspending
airfoils and using sensitive spring scales
forces of various airfoil
to measure drag and lift.
(wing) designs.
Other Ideas: Advanced students could
Learning Objectives: Recognize that
construct a wind tunnel and measure
design is a complex process that
the drag and lift forces on various airfoil
involves tradeoffs such as strength
designs. What are the effects of bugs
versus weight in airfoil design.
or ice on lift and drag forces?
Variables: Airfoils, lifting force, drag
force 4 What propeller size is the
most efficient in producing
Special Equipment: Multi-speed fan, electricity?
cardboard or Styrofoam. For advanced
projects: wind tunnel (can be Learning Objectives: Understand
homemade). that design is a complex process that
involves tradeoffs such as strength
Specific Resources: versus weight in airfoil design.
(1) Beginners Guide to Aerodynamics,
NASA Glenn Research Center Variables: Propeller size and materials
http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K
-12/airplane/bga.html Special Equipment: Fan (2-3
speeds), 1-1/2-V dc motor, voltmeter

201
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(0-5 V), 100-ohm resistor, insulated Other Ideas: Advanced students could
wire, propellers (model airplane or one investigate the solidity (high versus low)
of own design), wind tunnel for and number of blades by comparing
advanced students (See Figure 2). efficiency and tip speed ratios of
different blades. Also, the efficiency of
Specific Resources: dynamic inducers and cones can be
(1) Wind Energy Basic, Wind investigated.
Energy Development,
http://windeis.anl.gov/guide/basi
cs/index.cfm, retrieved on July
5 Can wind energy be used to
power a boat into the wind?
29, 2004 Will a boat powered by the
(2) Propeller, http://www.fact-
wind travel faster than a
index.com/p/pr/propeller.html, sailboat with the same swept
retrieved on July 28, 2004 area? Will a boat powered by
wind travel faster than the
wind?

Learning Objectives: Understand


Special Safety and Environmental
that design is a complex process that
Concerns: Take care when working
involves tradeoffs such as buoyancy,
with electricity and fans.
drag, stability, and weight.
Hints: Wind tunnels can be
Variables: Wind speed, windmill and
constructed of cardboard. Wind speed
propeller diameters
can be reduced to determine effects.
To measure the electricity produced you
Special Equipment: Anemometer,
will need to measure the volts and the
model boats made of wood with
amps.
propeller blades and shaft

Warning: Keep fingers


and faces away from
spinning propellers and Propeller must be snug
fan blades. enough on motor shaft
to turn the motor!

Splice in 100 Ohm resistor


DC
Motor

Note: If the voltmeter


reads backwards,
reverse the leads on
the motor

202
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Specific Resources: 6 What propeller design is


(1) Sailboat Glossary, Seadercraft, most efficient in producing
http://www.seadercraft.com/sai electricity?
ling_glossary.html, retrieved
July 29, 2004 Learning Objectives: Understand
(2) Search “Building an that design is a complex process that
Anemometer” in your web involves tradeoffs such as strength
search engine. versus weight in airfoil design. Energy
transfer always involves loss of energy
Special Safety and Environmental to heat.
Concerns: Take care when working
with electricity and fans.
Variables: Propeller diameter, power
developed, wind speed
Hints: Calibrate vane with compass.
Calibrate anemometer (could be done Special Equipment: Fan (2-3
through the window of a car). speeds), 1-1/2-V dc motor, voltmeter
Attach a string, fishing pool and line, or (0-5V); 100-ohm resistor, insulated
some kind of device to your boat so that wire, materials for propeller, wind tunnel
you may retrieve your boat from the for advanced students.
water. The propeller used to propel a
boat through water should be smaller Specific Resources:
than the wind propeller (turbine). See (1) Wind Energy Basic, Wind Energy
Figure 4. Development,
http://windeis.anl.gov/guide/basic
Other Ideas: A similar idea could be s/index.cfm, retrieved on July 29,
applied to a model car. Advanced 2004
students could use a large prototype (2) Propeller, http://www.fact-
with a system of bearings on the shaft index.com/p/pr/propeller.html,
and propellers. retrieved on July 28, 2004

Special Safety and Environmental


Concerns: Take care when working
with electricity and fans.

Hints: Set up your experiment as in


the sketch for project #4

Other Ideas: The angle of the blades


Wind can be varied and compared. The wind
Wind Propeller Diameter (calculate sweep area) speed can be varied and tested. The
number of blades can be varied (1, 2, 3,
Boat Motion etc.). The materials used in
constructing the propellers can be
varied.

Propeller
Diameter
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7 What is the most efficient


Hints: Set up each turbine as
illustrated in Projected #4 and the
spacing of wind turbines for
previous picture. A simple wind tunnel
“farming” wind in a given
could be constructed of cardboard. This
unit of space?
would decrease any variations of airflow
generated by the fan. Students may
Learning Objectives: Realize that
need to use clay, Lego trees, or other
design is a complex process. Compare
materials to model desired terrain.
a model to actual results. See how
Measure the power output to see which
technology interacts with society.
spacing is best.

Other Ideas: The total amount of


Variables: Wind direction, number electricity produced could be determined
and design of the wind turbines, for the model land area. Mathematical
topography calculations could determine total
electricity produced for a larger area by
Special Equipment: Fan (2-3 extrapolation.
speeds), 1-1/2-V DC motor for each
turbine, voltmeter and ammeter for 8 What area in your community
each turbine, 100-ohm resistors,
is the most favorable for
insulted wire, turbine propellers, wind
using wind as an energy
tunnel for advanced students.
source to generate
electricity?
Specific Resources:
(1) Haley, Jay, Landowners
Learning Objectives: Understand the
Frequently Asked Questions
value and usefulness of mathematical
about Wind Development,
models. Understand the conversion of
http://www.eere.energy.gov/win
units into common forms.
dpoweringamerica/pdfs/wpa/346
00_landowners_faq.pdf, retrieved
Use the cost information and power
July 28, 2004
curve for the Bergey Excel 7.5 kW
turbine given below to model cost of
Special Safety and Environmental
power given wind speeds in your area.
Concerns: Be careful when operating
blades.
Cost Information for Bergey Excel 7.5kW
Turbine $ 18,400.00
Tower and Grounding $ 11,628.00
Installation $ 5,200.00
Shipping $ 2,000.00
Total $ 37,228.00
O&M per year $ 200.00

204
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Other Ideas: Does the height above


Bergey 7.5 kW Output ground surface have any effects on wind
speed in a given locale?
8
Output (kW)

6
4 Output 9 Is solar, wind, or solar and
2
0
wind the best method to generator
0 10 20 30 electricity?
Wind Speed (m /s)
Learning Objectives: Recognize that
design is a complex process that
Variables: Wind Speed requires tradeoffs. Understand that
energy can be transferred to other
Special Equipment: Anemometer (a forms but always involves the loss of
recording anemometer for more some energy.
sophisticated research)
Variables: Load size and type(s) of
Specific Resources: renewable resource(s).
(1) Topozone,
http://topozone.com, retrieved Specific Equipment: Solar Panel,
July 28, 2004 blade (plastic propeller blade), wiring
(2) Evaluating Your Wind Resource (preferably with clamps on the end),
and Sitting Your Turbine, motor (1 or 2), buzzer, light (Christmas
Department of Energy, bulb), and any other load sources
http://www.eere.energy.gov/co desired.
nsumerinfo/makeelectricity/eva
l_wintrb_eval.html, retrieved Specific Resources:
July 29, 2004 (1) “Circuits,” Encyclopedia,
(3) Search “Building an retrieved on July 13, 2004,
Anemometer” in your web http://encyclopedia.thefreedictio
search engine. nary.com/Circuit.
(2) “How Solar Cells Work,” How
Special Safety and Environmental Stuff Works, Retrieved on July
Concerns: None 13, 2004,
http://www.howstuffworks.com/
Hints: Track wind information in your solar-cell.htm.
area for several months. Read the
power curve and find how much power Special Safety and Environmental
is being generated over time. Divide Concerns: Take care when working
the total cost of the wind turbine by the with electricity and fans.
power created for 10 years and
calculate the cost per kW. Compare this Hints: When working with both solar
to your electric bill. and wind, check the individual pieces.

205
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Other Ideas: Do series or parallel


circuits work better in the solar/wind How does wind vary with the height
configuration? above the ground in your neighborhood
or school?
More Project Ideas
What is the relationship between wind
speed and the electrical energy
Compare the efficiency of vertical-axis produced?
versus horizontal-axis wind machines.
Can a wind turbine run on thermal
How does changing the number of updrafts?
blades on a windmill affect the amount
of energy it can produce? What sail designs are best for boat
speed and power?
How does the number of blades on a
wind machine affect the number of Credits:
revolutions per minute?
Picture taken at NWTC, May 2004
How does the shape of the blades on a
windmill affect the energy it produces? http://www.sea.edu/k12lessonplans/k12
MadeToSail.htm
At what angle should windmill blades be
set for maximum efficiency? Communications with Ian Baring-Gould
(National Wind Technology Center),
Find the windiest spot on your school 6/25/04
playground. Make a map of measured
wind versus location, time of year, and Bergey Wind Power
time of day. http://www.bergey.com/

How well do paper windmills of different


designs work? Which turns with the
least wind?

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