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E10 Introduction to Engineering

Wind Turbine Design Project

Spring 2008

Humans have harvested energy from the wind for centuries. Sails for ships, windmills for grinding grain or pumping water are a few examples. There is renewed interest now in harvesting energy from the wind, because it offers a pollution-free means of generating electricity on a significant scale. The system that accomplishes the conversion of wind energy to electricity is called a wind turbine.

This semester you will design and construct a wind turbine and explore some of the engineering principles involved. The project will consist of four major activities:

  • Designing and fabricating the turbine rotor blades

  • Designing and fabricating the support tower

  • Determining the power output by your turbine

  • Measuring the stiffness of your support tower

Grading of the project will be carried out using the following criteria:

  • Power generated (45%) Your wind turbine will be tested at two wind speeds, high and low. The higher the power output in both regimes, the better.

  • Stiffness of support tower (25%) Your support tower will be loaded transversely (simulating wind loading), and its deflection will be measured 18 inches above the base of the tower. The less deflection, the better.

  • Weight of structure (20%) Your structure will be weighed. The lighter, the better

  • Creativity (10%) This aspect will address innovation and creativity used in your design.

  • Presentation on the design and its performance You will make a 5 to 10 minute presentation describing your design and the results of its performance. (See the guidelines for the presentation below).

  • Report on the design and its performance You need to document your design and performance results in a written report. Your report will be assessed on the quality and completeness of your documentation. (See the guidelines for writing the report below and the rubric that describes how your report will be evaluated).


Bonus points will be given for the wind turbine that generates the most power, is the lightest, and has the highest stiffness.

Details on Activities for the Wind Turbine Project Lab Assignment 3 – Learning How to Design with Solid Modeling Software

In this laboratory period, you will get some training in three dimensional computer-aided design using Inventor 2008, a leading-edge solid modeling software. You will begin to apply what you’ve learned to design the blades for your wind turbine.

[Note: the Inventor 2008 software is available for students to download and use for free. Follow the instructions for how to download Inventor 2008 that are given on the Blackboard site for E10. Look under the Laboratory organizer, then click on ‘How to Download Inventor 2008]

Lab Assignment 4 - Designing And Fabricating The Turbine Rotor Blades

Building on what you learned from the previous lab assignment, in this laboratory, you will design and fabricate your turbine rotor. Before you come to lab, you should do some research on wind turbine blades to decide on the best cross section, how the blade should be shaped, how many blades, etc.

Lab Assignment 5 - Designing And Fabricating The Wind Turbine Support Tower

The goal of this assignment is to design and fabricate a support tower for your wind turbine. You will be given a base and upper support plate between which you need to design a supporting structure. The dimensions and orientation of the support plates and their required spacing is shown in Figure 1 below. Important note: find out from your laboratory instructor what restrictions will be imposed on the materials that may be used for the support structure. You may attach your structure to both support plates as needed, but they may not be otherwise modified (i.e., hollowed out, etc.)

Lab Assignment 6 - Performance Testing of the Wind Turbine and Tower

In this laboratory period, you will demonstrate the power output from your turbine and stiffness of your support tower. Your team will make a 5 to 10 minute presentation describing the design and results of performance testing. (See the Guidelines for the Project Presentation below). A report documenting your design and its

BJ Furman | E10 Introduction to Engineering | WindTurbineDesignProject.doc | 11FEB2008

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