Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have designed a wind turbine that will be entered into a national competition in New Orleans. The turbine could help those in rural areas who need more power at their cell tower sites.
The team, dubbed WiscWind, is comprised of 15 engineers and business students, and will bring their idea to “solve remote power needs” to the American Wind Energy Association competition, sponsored by the Department of Energy, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Teams were tasked with writing a business plan, setting up a deployment strategy for their plans and then building and testing their designs in an on-site wind tunnel. Late last week, WiscWind was working on the finishing touches on campus before heading to Louisiana.
The team told the Journal Sentinel that it wants a “renewable power source that doesn’t require its own bulky and costly wind tower.” The model being tested is a cylindrical wind turbine with vertical axis helical blades that measure six feet in height and three feet in diameter. The blades’ spiral shape is similar to the DNA double-helix. The style is efficient in capturing wind and has fewer moving parts, and is designed to convert the wind into electricity along with solar panels. Batteries will ideally then be used to store the renewable electricity generated from the sources, which can be a big cost saver to consumers and businesses in rural areas such as India, where the team hopes to succeed first.
The prototype was difficult to manufacture, the Journal Sentinel noted, so the team reached out to prototyping facility Midwest Prototyping in Blue Mounds, which used 3-D printing technology to print the blades.