There are plenty of places outside where you may like to have a project requiring electricity that may not get enough sun for solar power to be viable. Perhaps wind power could be used instead? [Greg] has a project to create a platform for using a small wind turbine to generate the power for your projects.
The wind turbine that [Greg] designing is a Savonius-style wind turbine that would put out between 5 and 12 volts. In a Savonius turbine, blades are mounted on a vertical axis allowing for a smaller, less complicated build than traditional horizontal axis wind turbines. The design is named for its inventor, Finnish engineer Sigurd Johannes Savonius.
After doing some research, the design will have a 2:1 height to blade ratio and use three pairs of overlapping curved blades stacked on top of each other, each pair offset by 120 degrees. This design, [Greg] figures, will come within a few percentage points of the efficiency of more exotic blade shapes while making the windmill easy to design and implement. Being half cylinders, the blades can easily be made from existing objects cut in half – pop cans, for example, but there has been some designing the blades in Fusion 360 for 3D printing. The stator board has been designed and the initial prototypes of it and the rotor have arrived, so the testing can now commence.
Once the design is finalized and the prototype working, it’d be interesting to see some projects start showing up using wind power instead of solar power. Take a look at this design for a vertical wind turbine, and this design for a simple, straightforward turbine.
As a civilization, we are proficient with the “boil water, make steam” method of turning various heat sources into power we feed our infrastructure. Away from that, we can use solar panels. But what if direct sunlight is not available either? A team at MIT demonstrated how to extract power from daily temperature swings.
Running on temperature difference between day and night is arguably a very indirect form of solar energy. It could work in shaded areas where solar panels would not. But lacking a time machine, or an equally improbable portal to the other side of the planet, how did they bring thermal gradient between day and night together?
This team called their invention a “thermal resonator”: an assembly of materials tuned to work over a specific range of time and temperature. When successful, the device output temperature is out-of-phase with its input: cold in one section while the other is hot, and vice versa. Energy can then be harvested from the temperature differential via “conventional thermoelectrics”.
Power output of the initial prototype is modest. Given a 10 degree Celsius daily swing in temperature, it could produce 1.3 milliwatt at maximum potential of 350 millivolt. While the Hackaday coin-cell challenge participants and other pioneers of low-power electronics could probably do something interesting, the rest of us will have to wait for thermal resonator designs to evolve and improve on its way out of the lab.
We humans are becoming more aware every day that we need to reduce our fossil fuel dependence and move to more renewable methods lest we make the earth a less-desirable place to live. The sun is here today, and it will be tomorrow, harness that energy is one solution. There are places that are commonly windy, we can harness that energy too. [Jonathan] and [Ellen] set out to harness that wind energy but not in the traditional wind-turbine way. Wind creates ocean waves and the pair set out to recover some of that wave energy. They built a proof of concept and they did it on a budget with a side of DIY-style, to boot!
The device consists of a raft, with magnets attached to a sheet metal ruler standing on end. As you would expect, this ruler is flexible and the mass of the magnets easily sways back and forth as waves pass. The magnets move through stationary wire coils and as they do, creating an electrical current in the coils. The output of the coils is AC, which is then rectified to pulsed DC using several diodes and smoothed even further by some capacitors. The two DC outputs are then connected in series to double the voltage to 5 with a max current of about 20mA.
For this experiment the generator powers a modified smoke alarm which keeps burglars away from a coral reef. But the team could see this powering lights on buoys or low-power sensors. What would you use it for?
This vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) uses five 3” PVC pipes cut in half for blades rotating on three kids bicycle wheels to spin an Ametek 38 volt motor or a wind blue alternator. The whole thing spins in a frame that is a 12 feet high and 2 foot square box that is able to sit on his deck. In total it cost him about $125 plus time, a bit more if you use the wind blue alternator.
Video of the vertical turbine in action after the break.
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