Wind Turbines Explained
As the price of oil continues to rise, more and more people are turning to alternative and renewable sources of energy to power their everyday lives. One of those alternative energy sources is wind power. In order to harness the power of the wind, the wind turbine is put into use.
Introduction to Wind Turbine
A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. In order to understand what this means, one has to understand the definition of both kinetic and mechanical energy. Kinetic energy, in layman’s terms, is the energy of motion. Its opposite state is known as potential energy. When a car is parked in a parking lot, this is an example of potential energy. When a person gets into that car, starts the engine, and drives it out of the lot, this is kinetic energy. Mechanical energy is the sum of both kinetic and potential energy that is present in a mechanical system. The turbine is the mechanical system.
Wind turbines vary in both size and type. There is the vertical axis turbine. One unit, the Darrieus, looks like an eggbeater. The horizontal axis turbine is more widely used.
Small Turbines are Used to Save Money
Smaller turbines are often used by individuals or businesses as a way to save money on their electric bills. The larger units are the ones used on wind farms and can be as high as 80 feet tall. The tower can weigh up to 9.5 tons (19,000 lbs), the nacelle, or the unit that houses the mechanical parts, can weigh as much as 11 tons (22,000 pounds), and the blades can be as long as 33 yards.
What is the working principle of a wind turbine?
Wind turbines run on a simple principle involving three main parts. The wind causes the turbine’s blades to spin around a rotor. This rotor is connected to a shaft which in turn, spins a generator. The spinning of this generator is what creates energy. The generator is encased in a hollow unit called the nacelle.
The nacelle contains other parts important to the turbine’s operation. One of them is known as the blade pitch control. The purpose of the blade pitch control is to control the angle of the blades to reduce drag and ensure that the blades are furled properly. The yaw drive is also contained in the nacelle. Its purpose is to keep the rotor facing the direction of the wind. Both the blade pitch control and the yaw drive are necessary to ensure the turbine works efficiently.
How wind turbine is made – material, manufacture, used, parts, components, machine, Raw Materials
Turbine’s Utility Box
Another important part of the turbine is the utility box. The utility box is located at the base of the wind turbine’s tower. The purpose of the utility box is to convert the wind energy into electricity. The utility box is connected by different cables to the nacelle. Other cables connect a single turbine to other turbines and in turn, connect a group of turbines to a transformer.
Requirements for Wind Turbine
Before the turbine is manufactured, the exact location of the turbine must be determined. Wind turbines are normally placed on wind farms, which are located in areas where the wind is consistent and the speed is normally around 15.5 mph or 25 kph. Wind farms tend to work the best when they are placed in open areas of land, such as the Great Plains area of the United States or parts of California. Turbines are also being built off-shore.
Once the location is determined, site preparation begins. The land is leveled and graded. Then a concrete foundation is laid and a series of underground cables are installed. The purpose of these underground cables is to connect the turbines together and subsequently to a control center where the wind farm is monitored and the electricity generated is then sent to the power company.
A steel tower is then built upon the concrete foundation. Most turbines use a hollow steel tower that contains a ladder so workers can climb up to the nacelle if need be.
The other parts of the device are manufactured offsite in a factory. The unit is made from a variety of materials, including steel and fiberglass. Most blades are made from fiberglass, but some can be constructed from aluminum. The nacelle is made from fiberglass. The components are then transported by truck to the site where the unit is assembled and then put into operation.