The 2016 competition helped the team gain further insight about optimizing the design of WiscWind’s wind turbine by being able to interact with and observe other teams and members of industry. The first significant design update that the team has decided on this year was switching from a vertical axis wind turbine to a horizontal axis. This switch took place due to observing the difference in power output, efficiency, and rotational velocity between the horizontal and vertical axis wind turbines at the competition, which showed that a horizontal axis wind turbine is more suited for laminar flow in a wind tunnel. Although the vertical axis has major advantages for multi-directional wind, something that will be tested in this year’s competition, the team believes that with a well-designed yaw system the horizontal turbine will perform just as well with changing wind direction.
For the upcoming competition, the mechanical team has integrated their design process with the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Mechanical Engineering Senior Design course. This has allowed the team to increase their resources as well as the time students are able to work on the design and manufacturing. With this addition, the team has used new analysis techniques such as ANSYS flow simulation and physical small-scale testing of multiple blade designs before developing the full-scale prototype. Both of these new test methods have increased the number of designs and factors the team can test, ultimately making the final design an optimal version of the small-scale models.
A new strategy was implemented in the electrical design. In the past competition, the generator was not sized physically or electrically for the turbine. This was a design hurdle that the team had trouble getting around. This year, the electrical team designed an axial flux generator in order to customize it to the properties of our wind turbine. WiscWind’s wind turbine will be able to reach its full potential with a generator that is designed to work with the system the team has designed.
With valuable knowledge gained from the 2016 Collegiate Wind Competition, WiscWind plans to create a further developed wind turbine that is efficiency and innovative.
When asked about the reasons for joining the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition 2016, students expressed a common interest in renewable energy. Those engaged with the engineering side of the competition expressed an interest in the design process, as well as the opportunity to build something and gain hands‐on experience to complement academic coursework. Those involved with the business and market research component expressed interest in entrepreneurship, particularly in the renewable energy field. In both cases, students want to gain valuable experience with renewable energy and the wind industry and diversify their résumés.
After significant research and coordination with University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty, WiscWind will be pursuing a helical blade vertical axis wind turbine that utilizes a three-phase permanent magnet synchronous machine for electricity generation. A vertical axis wind turbine was chosen to reduce the number of mechanical/moving components (blade pitching and gear reduction). This will lead to a more robust and maintenance-free design and a more marketable product.
Currently, the turbine is being designed for a battery that will be capable of powering electrical loads for several markets throughout India. India was chosen as an ideal market for off-grid wind because parts of India experience some of the strongest global wind resources and 21.3% of India’s population is without access to electricity, according to a 2012 study compiled by The World Bank.
Off‐grid wind turbines would be an effective electric solution for three major markets:
- Health clinics (lights, vaccine refrigerators, and health-care machines)
- Rural village homes (lights, electric stoves, and heat)
- Cellular towers (corresponding with a push for more widespread cell-phone availability).
Further research is being conducted by the business subteam related to each of these markets, including marketable and deployable loads specific to each. In the health clinic and rural village market, an important load would be a reliable and safe lighting system, so consideration is being given to designing for this product.
It is also important to note that the team spent substantial time and resources pursuing a different market completely, aiming to power sensors and other electronic equipment associated with precision agriculture. However, research and communication with potential customers led to the decision to move the team in this new direction.