Designing Wind Turbine Blades
A sustainable energy design challenge: working in teams, students design the shape, number and pitch of of the blades of a wind turbine that will produce the maximum power possible. Developed by teacher Kent Lewarne, in a project supported by The Winnipeg Foundation.
Time Required: 1 to 2 periods
Students will use materials provided / available to design the shape, number and pitch of turbine blades to produce the maximum power possible. Blades are designed and mounted on wood doweling. The blades are then inserted into a “hub” and placed on a table top turbine made out of 1”PVC pipe. A small electric motor is used as a generator. Sustained output is measured using a multimeter. Design features to include an opportunity to explore:
- Blade width
- Blade length
- Number of blades
- Blade composition
- Blade design
- Blade pitch
This activity can also be adapted to add an economic and social component that addresses issues for one’s local community as well as in a developing country context as well. Students are shown short videos that demonstrate wind generation models currently in use in large production fields as well as small localized wind generation models that are designed for a small community or family. Their task would be the same as above – to develop a wind turbine or generation design that maximizes sustained output but with the added layer of budgets and economics including social setting. Each team would be provided a budget for the design and construction of a working wind turbine. The materials assembled for their use would have a value added to them so that students would have to research design opportunities given the materials provided. The materials would include items that could be found in scrap yards such as old tins, cardboard etc as well as materials such as Styrofoam, balsa wood, sand paper sheets, construction paper, poster paper or coroplast with each item having a price attached to the product materials to be used in the construction process. Teams have to put together a design that includes the best use of materials within their budget. The sustained output is then measured against the cost per sustained output.
This activity generally requires one class for design of blades and one class for testing. The opportunity exists to assign this as a study activity with the students being introduced to the activity on day one. The students then are given a number of days to research and assess design options as a homework activity thus further informing them for their construction day tasks. Depending on the length of the class period, this activity could easily require an additional class for the testing and analysis.
Class generally creates a rubric for assessment based on Performance, Time on Task, Prototypes/Revisions. Other assessment areas can be added as needed.
- PVC Pipe and fittings, precut is nice but students could due the cutting. (additional time and tools required to cut pipe if necessary)
- Exacto Knife/ scissors to cut out blades.
- Variety of blade materials (card board, balsa wood, Styrofoam Plates etc)
- Glue gun to attach blades to doweling
- 1/4 - 3/8 doweling. (again, precut is best – Size depends on hubs purchased)
- Multimeter (at least one for test day, a few is better)
Resource Type:Lesson Plan
Subject(s):Technology and Skilled Trades, Environmental Studies, Physics, Environmental Science,
Topic:Air, Atmosphere and Climate, Energy Generation, Renewable Energy,
Level:Intermediate / MiddleSecondary
Web Pages Used
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