Harnessing Wind Power Isn’t Actually A New Idea
Long before there was electricity, humans realized that you could harness the power of the wind. Both Europeans and Early Americans used wind to run the mills in which they ground flower. In later years windmills were used on farms as a way to pump water out of the ground.
In more recent years we have seen wind “power” come back into play, by way of “wind farms” along predominantly the west coast. These farms use wind turbines to generate electricity. With fossil fuels becoming ever scarcer we are looking for alternative ways to power our homes and factories. Naturally we turned back to wind as a viable option, after all, humans have been using wind as a way to generate energy, and make otherwise back breaking jobs easier.
Today we are going to take a look at one of the simplest forms of wind energy. We are going to construct a windmill; we will then harness the power of the wind to lift an object that is much too heavy for the wind to move by itself.
Materials you will need
- ¾” PVC or CPVC pipe (approximately 6 feet long)
- 2 – ¾” pipe caps
- 4 – ¾” elbows
- 4 – 3/4 “ tees
- 1 – 8” x 11” piece of thick card stock (for the rotor blades)
- 1 – 3/16” diameter dowel rod (approximately 18” needed)
- 3-6 – Popsicle sticks
- Fishing line or string
- Hot glue gun and approximately 3 sticks of glue
- A small saw or pipe cutter to cut the pipe
- A drill and 3/16” drill bit
- Sand Paper
Terms you might want to be familiar with (or look up) before you start
- Wind power
- Wind turbine
The first thing we need to do is assemble the foundation of your wind turbine.
- Using a saw or pipe cutter cut 4 pieces of the 3/4″ pvc pipe at 5″ lengths
- Cut two longer sections of 3/4″ pvc pipe (approximately 7″ lengths) for the two solid legs of the foundation.
- Assemble the outer rim of the foundation with pvc fittings as needed as shown in the above photo
- Measure the length you will need to span across the middle of your foundation then subtract approximately 2″ to allow for the “T” fitting and cut this piece of pipe as well.
- Cut the cross member in half and finish assembling the foundation of your wind turbine as shown in the above photo.
Now we need to assemble the “Nacelle” of the wind turbine.
- Cut one piece of your 3/4″ pvc pipe approximately 12″ long
- Then cut a piece about 2″ long off that
- Connect these two pieces with a tee in the middle as shown above
- Put the pipe caps on each end
- Then drill a 3/16” or slightly larger hole through each of the end caps … and be sure to get them as close to center as possible since this will be where the axle of your rotor will be
Now we need to assemble the rotor and axle.
- Take your three Popsicle sticks and tape them together on top of each other
- Using the drill, make a 3/16″ hole through all three of them with the center of the drill point at about 3/8″ to 1/2″ distance from one of the ends
- Cut your 3/16″ dowel to a length of about 18”
- Attach the three popsicle sticks through the dowel holes drilled (adjust as needed but these should be a tight fit)
- Make sure that the popsicle sticks are positioned in a Y formation as shown above, each one equal distance from the next. Then apply some hot glue to hold them in place.
Next we need to construct the rotor blades.
- Take the sheet of card stock and measure out three 4” x 8” rectangles
- Cut them out
- Using clear scotch tape fold each rotor section in half long ways and tape where they meet, ensure that you do not crush the paper (you want the end of the rotor blade to look like a tear drop)
- Do the same with all three rotor blades
- Using hot glue fasten the blades to the popsicle sticks that are serving as the frame work for your rotor (the popsicle sticks go inside the blade to keep them aerodynamic)
- Cut another piece of the PVC pipe approximately 24” long (this will be the tower of your turbine
- On one end sand down the PVC pipe approximately 1” from the end (this will ensure that your nacelle will be able to rotate freely to face the direction the wind is coming from)
- Place the axle of your rotor assembly through the holes you have drilled in the ends of the nacelle
- Place the nacelle atop the tower
Let’s use the wind power now
- From here you are going to want to tie the weight you are going to be lifting to the back end of the axle that is sticking out of the nacelle. (make the string a little longer that the length of the tower so the weight is lying on the ground to start)
- Wait for the wind (if none is present you can use a box fan to simulate the wind)
Now observe your wind turbine in motion. Notice how the wind alone would not be able to lift the weight you have tied to the axle of your rotor, but when it is harnessed correctly the wind can lift the weight. In fact if you experiment a little in windy conditions you will likely find that your turbine will be able to lift things that are quite heavy when you consider the scale of the experiment.
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