Blowing in the Wind: Students Raise Wind Turbines and Emergency Tower as Campus Project

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All systems were go Nov. 6 as students from the manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology/packaging science department raised three wind turbines and one prototype wind turbine. The turbines, for emergency power for cell towers, are a result of quarter-long student projects. While the wind did not cooperate as they would have liked, the group of fourth- and fifth-year students made quick work of constructing the 30-foot towers on the bluff behind the Slaughter Building.

The project was part of the Special Topics course in Wind Power. It involved the students designing, building and testing the equipment. An additional project was to develop a software package that matches wind availability when certain areas are in line to be alternative energy resources.

“In an extension of previous research by others one student project developed a prototype of an emergency cell tower power system consisting of a ducted turbine that would integrate with a lifting device—a blimp—which also supports the tower,” says Carl Lundgren, associate professor. The device is a prototype for equipment to use in case of emergencies and natural disasters.

After set up, demonstrations and hibachi lunch, the turbines were dismantled and returned to the Alternative Energy and Materials Lab. In addition to projects developing turbines and systems, a team has developed a novel method to rapidly prototype blades for testing allowing future research on blade optimizations to be conducted, Lundgren adds.