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STELR

WIND
TURBINES

11th to 16th October, 2013


EEI Term 4

Abstract
This extended experimental investigation set out to find the
most efficient number, length and angle of blades on a STELR
Wind Turbine. It was concluded that the most efficient design
consisted of six 20 cm blades on an angle between zero and 15,
almost completely flat.
This conclusion was reached through testing the power
produced by three blade lengths, four blade angles and five
different number of blades.

Disha Katiyar
SCI102J

Contents
STELR Wind Turbines .............................................................................................................................. 2
Introduction and Background Research ............................................................................................. 2
Wind Generators............................................................................................................................. 2
Renewable Energy........................................................................................................................... 3
Michael Faraday and Electromagnetic Induction ........................................................................... 4
Electric Circuits ................................................................................................................................ 5
Aim ...................................................................................................................................................... 6
Hypothesis........................................................................................................................................... 6
Materials ............................................................................................................................................. 6
Method ............................................................................................................................................... 6
Table 1: Angle of Blades .................................................................................................................. 8
Table 2: Blade Length ...................................................................................................................... 8
Table 3: Number of Blades .............................................................................................................. 8
Graph 1: Angle of Blades................................................................................................................. 1
Graph 2: Blade Length..................................................................................................................... 1
Graph 3: Number of Blades............................................................................................................. 1
Discussion and Analysis....................................................................................................................... 2
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................... 2

Disha Katiyar

Brisbane State High School

STELR Wind Turbines


Introduction and Background Research
Wind Generators
Wind is the air motion created by the Earths rotation and sunlight; scientists have tried to harness
the winds energy and use it as an alternative renewable power source (Donahue, 2013).

The creation of lift and drag.


Source:
http://science.howstuffworks.com/environ
mental/green-science/wind-power.htm

Windmills and sail boats are the earliest forms of


harnessing wind power. Now however, in the case of a
wind-electric turbine, wind can create energy; this is
because the blades of a wind turbine are designed to
capture the kinetic energy in wind. They do this
through the creation of lift and drag due to the shape
of the blades. Lift occurs when the wind travels over
the curved surface of the blade and has to move faster
to reach the end of the blade in time to meet the wind
travelling over the flat face of the blade; this creates a
low-pressure pocket that sucks the blade in a
downward direction, spinning it. The drag is created
and helps propel the blades more. The spinning of the
turbine, or rotor, spins the shaft as well, which it is
connected to; the mechanical, rotational energy is
transferred to the generator, which uses this motion
to create electricity. (Layton, 2013).

Wind generation has many advantages and the


foremost of those is that it is a clean and renewable
energy source. Wind turbines are also available in
different sizes, making them available to a wider range of people. Another positive point about wind
energy is that there is minimal processing required; after the production and erection of the turbine,
the electricity is created at the source and
passed on directly into the grid. There are
also disadvantages to wind generation and
wind farms. Wind generation relies on the
wind, which unlike the sun, is not constant
and can range from zero to a very
destructive speed. Also, there is a lot of
space required for wind farms and the noise
they create can be very disruptive to nearby
Albany Wind Farm
properties. The destruction caused by a wind
Source:
turbine can be another hazard. (Ryan, 2009).
http://www.rainbowcoast.com.au/area
s/albany/albanywindfarm.htm

Disha Katiyar

Brisbane State High School

Renewable Energy
Non-renewable energy comes from sources that are non-renewable; that is, they will run out and
not be replenished for many generations. The three main non-renewable energy sources are coal,
petroleum and natural gas; they are also knows as fossil fuels and are created in a similar manner:
during the Carboniferous Period, plant and animal remains were buried and kept under pressure for
thousands of years, the resulting product being the carbon rich fossil fuels used today. (National
Geographic, 2013).
The main advantage of using nonrenewable resources for energy is that it is
relatively cheap. It can also be easily
transported. However, these benefits are
counteracted by the many disadvantages:
the burning of these fuels result in a
release of gases which increase the
greenhouse effect, unbalancing the Earths
carbon budget. Nuclear energy is also
considered non-renewable because of the
material used in the power plants;
although rather clean, nuclear energy is
Coal mining in Australia
highly radioactive, dangerous and volatile.
Source: http://topnews.net.nz/content/228929-coalAnother disadvantage is that they will
miners-enter-final-grief-stage
eventually run out, leaving us to rely on
renewable energy sources. (National Geographic, 2013).

Solar Farms in Australia


Source:
http://infotainmentnews.net/2013/07/08/g
reat-facts-about-solar-energy/

Renewable energy is obtained from natural resources


that can be constantly replenished. Some popular
examples of renewable energy are solar energy, wind
energy and hydropower. Solar power is captured
when the suns energy is turned into electricity; it can
also be used to heat air or water. Australia has the
highest average solar radiation per square meter in
the world. Wind and hydro power use the force of
wind or water, respectively, to rotate turbines that
rotate shafts which drive electrical generators that
produce power. (ARENA, 2013).

There are many advantages to using renewable


energy. First and foremost, renewable energy doesnt
run out because the resources for renewable energy
are part of the earth. It is clean and produces no greenhouse gases once produced and running. Even
though it is expensive, the long term cost is less due to the reduction of carbon emissions. There is
however one drawback to renewable resources, it is justified by the benefits, but the physical
environment is sometimes harmed by the placement of the farms for wind or solar energy, and
sometimes so are the wildlife; people living in the area also tend to find the renewable resource
farms as inconvenient and they also tend to ruin the landscape.
Disha Katiyar

Brisbane State High School

Michael Faraday and Electromagnetic Induction


Michael Faraday was born on the 22nd of September, 1791 and died in 1867
at the age of 76. During his lifetime, Faraday made a crucial discovery of
electromagnetic induction, making him a world renowned experimental
scientist (BBC, 2013). His great discovery of electromagnetic induction came
about in 1831 during one of his experiments in which Faraday used an
induction ring. Electromagnetic induction is the generation of electricity in a
wire by the means of an electromagnetic effect in another wires current
(Bellis, 2013). Faradays other experiments lead to the creation
of the modern electric motor, generator and transformer.

Michael Faraday
Source:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/histo
ric_figures/faraday_michael.shtml

The generator principle, or Faradays Law, explains how


electricity is generated. It states that any change in the magnetic
environment of a coil of wire will cause a voltage to be induced
in the coil; this change could be produced in several ways such as changing the strength of the
magnetic field, moving the magnet into or out of the magnetic field or rotating the coil relative to
the magnet (Hyperphysics, 2000). In the case of the generator in a wind turbine, the shaft rotates
the coil around the magnet within the magnetic field, generating electricity in the coil.

Faradays Law: the movement of the magnetic field


generating electricity in the coil of wire, and causing a
voltage
Source:
http://www.upwithscience.up.ac.za/archive/projects0
8/physics.htm

The motor principle states that when a current-carrying conductor is located in an external magnetic
field perpendicular to the conductor, the conductor experiences a force perpendicular to itself and
to the external magnetic field (Oracle Think Quest, 1999). This means that a coil with a current
running through it, when wrapped around a rotor sitting in a magnetic field, will create mechanical
energy, or movement, and the rotor will move.

The motor principle in work in a DC


motor
Source: http://hyperphysics.phyastr.gsu.edu/hbase/magnetic/motdc.html

Disha Katiyar

Brisbane State High School

Electric Circuits
There are two types circuits used today, series circuits and parallel circuits. Series circuits are circuits
where each of the resistors or power consuming components, like a light bulb are place
consecutively. In a series circuit, if one of the components stops working, the entire circuits will stop
because the circuit is broken. Also, the amount of energy given to each component is reduced. In a
parallel circuit, the components are parallel to each other, placed in a new branch of the circuit.
They are not next to each other so if one is broken, the circuit still works; unlike a series circuit, the
components each receive the same amount of energy. (BBC, 2013).

A series circuit with two light bulbs.


Source:
http://www.engquest.org.au/studentsglossary.cfm

A parallel circuit with two light bulbs.


Source: http://www.engquest.org.au/students-glossary.cfm

Resistance is the obstruction of the current of electrons; it is a measure of how much an object
opposes the passage of electrons. It is measured in ohms and is represented by (Valdivia, 2008).
Resistance is calculated by the formula R = V/I and on a diagram is represented by a zigzag line.
Examples of resistors include light bulbs and different types of wire or material. In the industry, a
colour code is used to show the amount of resistance a certain substance provides (Valdivia, 2008).
Capacitors, previously known as condensers, are devices used for storing charge. Generally, a
capacitor is made of two plates separated by an insulating material; one plate is positively charged
and the other is negatively charged. The charge within the capacitor is proportional to the difference
between the two plates. (Boston University, 1999). There are formulas to find the charge within the
capacitor, which is called the capacitance. The insulating material within the capacitor is called a
dielectric and causes the electric field inside the capacitor to be reduced an amount equal to that of
the charge of the plates. The energy within the capacitor is equal to the work required to build
charge on the plates. Capacitors have many uses, like storing computer memory, but in circuits they
are used to minimize voltage fluctuations. (Boston University, 1999).

Disha Katiyar

Brisbane State High School

Aim
To investigate the properties of wind turbines and find the most efficient design.

Hypothesis
If the blades of the wind turbine are altered in length, number and angle, then there will be different
amounts of power produced.

Materials
-

STELR testing station

2 x STELR multimeters

5 x connecting leads

STELR model wind turbine

Retort stand and clamp

12 x each type of turbine blades (yellow, red and blue)

Three speed fan

Ruler

Method
1. Set up the circuit as shown Figure 1: the two multimeters should be connected to the testing
station and the wind turbine, which should be secured to the retort stand.
2. Position the fan 50 cm away from the hub of the model wind turbine. This is how to set up
should remain throughout the experiment.
3. The first variable to test is the angle of the blades. Prepare a table of results to record the
angle of the blades, the voltage, current and power. The formula used is P = VI where P is
power in mW, V is voltage in V, and I is current in mA.
4. Set up 6 red (15 cm) blades facing left (so they will turn clockwise) and adjust them so they
are evenly spaced out and are almost flat. The hub must be tightened. Turn the fan on the
highest setting and record the voltage and current, and use to formula to find the power.
5. Repeat this process with 3 other blade angles of shallow, medium and very steep (almost at
a right angle). Record all the measurements and dont move the equipment too much so as
to keep the data as accurate as possible.

Disha Katiyar

Brisbane State High School

6. The next variable to test is blade length. Once again, be sure to keep the set up the same
throughout. The blades should be facing the same way and put them at an efficient but safe
angle (refer to your results).
7. Test and record for all three blade lengths.
8. Set up the wind turbine with the most efficient blade and a safe angle and test for the
number of blades.
9. Test for 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12 evenly spaced out blades; record the results and find the power
produced.

Figure 1

Disha Katiyar

Brisbane State High School

Results

Table 1: Angle of Blades


Angle size

Voltage (V) (V)

Current (I) (mA)

Power (P) (mW)

Almost completely flat

20

30

60

Shallow

1.65

10

16.5

Medium

Steep

0.02

Spine (bumpy) side out/

Using 6 x 15 cm blades

Using buzzer

Distance from fan approx. 15 cm

Table 2: Blade Length


Blade Length

Voltage (V) (V)

Current (I) (mA)

Power (P) (mW)

7.5 cm

20

60

10 cm

21

63

15 cm

12

24

Spine (bumpy) side out/ moderate


angle

Using buzzer

Using 6 blades

Distance from fan approx. 25 cm

Table 3: Number of Blades


No. of Blades

Voltage (V) (V)

Current (I) (mA)

Power (P) (mW)

2.5

7.5

2.7

8.1

3.5

3.2

11.2

4.6

27.6

12

5.8

8.6

49.9

Spine (bumpy) side out/ moderate


angle

Using 10 cm blades

Distance from fan approx. 25 cm

Using LED

Disha Katiyar

Brisbane State High School

Graph 1: Angle of Blades

Graph 2: Blade Length

Graph 3: Number of Blades

Disha Katiyar

Brisbane State High School

Discussion and Analysis


The experiment consisted of three phases in which we tested the efficiency of different variations of
the variables. The first variable tested was the angle of the blades and how they affected the power
produced; we found that the blades went the fastest when they were almost completely flat. This
could be because there was an increase in the surface area that the wind could hit the blade. Real
wind turbines wouldnt have blades at an angle like that because then they would go dangerously
fast and probably get spoiled more quickly.
The second variable tested was the blade length and we found that the middle size 10 cm was
the best length. Similarly to the real wind turbines, we put all the blades at a safe angle, to try to
keep the experiment safe and as life-like as possible. There were some inconsistencies in the data,
however. Firstly, the distance between the fan changed from the first part of the experiment and the
second; also, since this experiment was done by hand in a large group of students, small errors
would have affected the amount of power created and the data.
Finally, we tested how the number of blades affected the power produced. Instead of using the
buzzer to test if energy was being produced, we used the light so there may have been another
inconsistency in the data. I was expecting that 3 would be the most efficient number of blades,
however it was the opposite; as seen on the last graph, 12 blades generated the most energy.
Overall it was found that twelve 10 cm blades on a very flat angle produced the most energy.
However, these are the specifications for when the different variables were tested separately. To
save time, not every single combination of blade number, length and angle was tested and so the
results reflect that. The combination we found may not actually be the most efficient when
compared to the numerous others that are possible.
The hypothesis was proved all the different variations change the amount of power produced
however the results were slightly unexpected as they do not match the wind turbines used across
the world today: three very long blades on an approximately 45 angle. This may be for several
reasons, first of which would be safety. The faster the wind turbine goes, the more energy it
produced; this is very dangerous, however, and must be changed. The other reasons may have to do
with size and ease of production and assembly.

Conclusion
Through the research conducted, this report has covered wind turbines, renewable energy, electrical
circuits and two principles whose development can be attributed to Michael Faraday.
Overall, the experiment was a well conducted, with a few inconsistencies that were all accounted for.
The results matched the hypothesis, but were unexpected compared to the current designs of wind
turbines which have three very long blades at a 45 angle. We found that, theoretically, twelve 10
cm blades on a very shallow angle should produce the most energy.

Disha Katiyar

Brisbane State High School