Dec. 10, 2003
Positive Effects of Turbulence on Wind Turbines
Positive Effects Of Turbulence On Wind Turbines
Patrick Saris, 14, Newbury Park, Calif.
Department of Commerce Award for Youth Technology, Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge, 2003.
Project background: Patricks interest in aerodynamics and the current importance of renewable energy sources led him to study wind turbines. He contacted a Dutch researcher working on turbulators, which are small strips designed to create a little bit of turbulence at the surface of an airfoil to eliminate premature separation of the airflow. Patrick learned that zigzag shaped turbulators might be more effective than rectangular ones and that riblets are in airplane wings for this reason. He decided to see which was more effective.
Examples of turbulators, small strips designed to created turbulence at the surface of an airfoil.
Tactics and results: Patrick built a wind tunnel and rotor. The rotor had two blades with zero angle of attack. He created six turbulators of equal surface area but different texture/shape combinations involving sandpaper and riblets cut in zigzag and rectangular shapes. He tested each turbulator on the rotating rotor three times for three minutes each. Generated voltage was recorded with Venier probe equipment.
Patrick found that the riblet/zigzag turbulator consistently improved rotor performance the most.
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