Wind Turbine Blade Design

Published: 26th June 2009
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Wood is most often used for homemade wind turbine blades and sometimes metal or fiberglass are used. Some turbine blades are also cut from pieces of PVC pipe. Today's giant commercial wind turbines most commonly have fiberglass blades because it is long lasting and very light and it does not succumb to stress fatigue.

Wood is easier to work with than fiberglass or metal and it is lighter than metal, so this makes it the logical choice for home DIY turbines. The most common design has 3 working blades, although there are also 1 and two blade designs. Three blades will spin the rotor at a higher speed in lower winds, which is why it is considered best. Another consideration is that 3 blade turbines are quieter and easier to balance than are one and two blade turbines.

All horizontal axis wind turbines share basically the same design style. In order to create lift and help maximize efficiency, wind turbine blades are airfoil shaped like airplane wings. Since the blades move faster at the outer ends and slower in the middle, they usually have a twist to their shape. This twist optimizes angle of attack along the blade. In addition, the blades are tapered for improved aerodynamic performance.

Although wind turbine blade design is fairly consistent from one turbine to the next, several dimensional factors must be tailored to the overall machine design and location. The speed and torque at which a wind turbine rotates must be manipulated to optimize aerodynamic efficiency in light winds.

Once the turbine's maximum speed for energy generation is reached, it must be slowed down. Therefore, the generator must be kept within its speed and torque limits and be prevented from spinning faster than its maximum capacity. Diameter blade size and weight are all involved in this equation. If the blades are too big or too small for the alternator the turbine won't work properly, if at all. Likewise, if the tail assembly isn't the correct weight and size, the turbine won't turn into the wind, or furl to a slower speed when it is supposed to.

Grabbing a set of instructions for the entire turbine where the blade specifications are consistent with the other parts is a smart idea for all the reasons stated above. This is preferable to just finding a blade design template because the dimensions may not be sized relative to the other components being used. Readers can click here for more on wind turbine blade design,


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