Northern Arizona University (NAU) students chose to participate in the Collegiate Wind Competition to help improve the world’s energy portfolio. The team is made up of students primarily from the United States, Kuwait, and China—all countries with a need to modernize their energy sources. NAU students also hope to build on their experience in wind energy to gain employment specifically in wind after graduating.
The NAU team is developing a three-blade horizontal-axis wind turbine with an active pitching and passive yawing system.
The 10 NAU students participating this year are split into two subteams: a tunnel testing team and a project development team. The tunnel team is divided into an electrical engineering subteam (three students), and a mechanical engineering subteam (four students). The students tasked with developing and testing the testing turbine are doing so as their chosen capstone project to fulfill graduation requirements. The project development team is composed of four students participating in an independent study created by the NAU’s College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences. Both teams are making continuous progress despite being much smaller than in previous competition years. The team is supported logistically by the newly formed Energy Club at NAU with about 15 active club members.
The subteams have stronger leadership than previous years as well and are led by motivated students who aspire to work in the renewable energy sector after graduation. This motivation has inspired students throughout the year to continue evolving the turbine design and developing a full-scale project. Additionally, NAU has a strong presence of faculty that are immensely knowledgeable in renewables and wind energy.
Due to the busy schedules of each team member, it has been difficult to organize meeting times between all students to progress the design. To address these issues, the leaders of the tunnel subteams have met with our PI throughout the year. These leaders have then communicated design strategies to the rest of their subteam to keep moving the design forward.
Collegiate Wind Competition Objectives
As the sixth team competing for NAU in the Collegiate Wind Competition, this year’s team hopes to improve on previous designs while implementing new components. Our team will focus on developing an active pitching mechanism while balancing rotor solidity with turbine performance parameters. This will help the turbine achieve early startup without sacrificing efficiency during testing.
Team NAU along with the Energy Club will have some members volunteering for the Wind for Schools event this spring with Willow Bend, an environmental education center. The team is also engaging local and county officials as part of the community outreach efforts for their wind power plant project development.
This webpage was submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy by the team.