Vertical axis wind turbine
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The objective of this project was to design and simulate a turbine capable of effectively harnessing wind energy into a viable and practical source of consumer electric energy. This was done by the optimization of three different portions of the design. First, restraint of the column that transferred the physical energy to the generator was optimized. This took into consideration the weight of the turbine portion of the structure, the torque seen due to the rotation of the blades, and the bending caused by the wind and other transverse loads upon the column. Second, the propeller design was optimized. This was done by designing and testing blades that had a low coefficient of drag on one side and a very high coefficient on the opposite side. Finally, the generator was optimized for the maximal electric output due to our expected revolutions per minute of the transfer column. The optimizations of the column portion of the project were done by an initial analysis of the structure by methods of strength of materials. Once broad dimensions were decided, they were further narrowed down by the help of analytical computer software, in this case, the Mechanica add-on for Pro/Engineer. The expected RPMs of the blade portion were determined by methods of fluid mechanics and also by simulation in Fluent, a fluid flow simulation software package. The generator was then optimized in the ELE lab for maximum electrical output from the resulting RPMs we expected the generator to see. What this project resulted in was a fully functional design of a vertical axis wind turbine that is capable of producing a significant amount of electrical energy.