Project 90 club builds their own wind turbine

The theory - how to build a wind turbine

Week 1

South Peninsula Engineering and Project 90 club members have accepted the challenge of designing and building a wind turbine for their school and met for their first session in September. The school has embraced the attitude of becoming more eco-friendly and by utilizing our natural resources we aim to develop a more sustainable institution.

The practical - building starts in the workshop

The afternoon was well structured and firstly a brief of the task at hand was explained as well as a rough diagram sketch drawn so to clarify matters. There after we broke into groups, each team focusing on a specific section of the turbine. Parts such as the brackets, rotors, strata and swivel rod were identified and the team members began their work. Students who addressed the brackets used acid to remove any rust stains prevalent and cut pipes at sizes of 10 and 12,5mm. These were then sanded and smoothed. Those responsible for the strata had the job of creating copper coils for the turbine. Firstly the coil mould would have to be separated in order to remove the coils, and the mould then cleaned. Because of working with metals of different strengths (i.e. aluminum being softer), regular sanding paper would scratch the metal and, therefore, an odd credit card was used to remove any hardened glue left on the mould. This prevented unwanted by-products from disturbing the setting of the new glue and copper molded coils.

Eager learners

Students are to regroup for a few more meetings, also consisting of holiday sessions, to continue the building process. The wind turbine is hoped to be up and running by the fourth quarter and the students will, with no doubt, continue working enthusiastically until its completion.

Week 2 – second building session

The main gist of the work could now be addressed because preparation was already sought to within the first meeting. Groups expanded on their previous knowledge and adjusted well to the task at hand.

learning new skills

The session started with a quick review of Physical Science and Mathematics comprehension (i.e. understanding the concept of alternating current and the use of sine graphs in the construction process). It was then explained in detail the way in which wind made a turbine inside spin, so to create the movement of electrons and thus the generation of electricity. This explanation allowed students to see that building individual parts would eventually develop into one final piece. Although all groups were considered, the work from the team making the strata was emphasized. A coil mould was presented to the group and each member was appointed a responsibility. Of the four team members: one was responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the coil as it spun, one controlled the revolutions, one counted the amount of revolutions (to ensure that each coil made in future would be of identical length) and another mixed 2-parts Epoxy and glued each completed layer of copper wire. The other groups cut and measured the correct sizes of the rotors, and spent much time sanding metal so to later prevent parts of the turbine from rusting.

Faces of a happy and successful team!

At the end of the session techniques had been mastered, initiative taken and (in some cases) students and adults even caught posing for photographs with beloved power tools! The idea of the project had settled and grown significantly and students arranged to meet again for a holiday session.

Kirstin Meiring
Grade 10F
South Peninsula High School

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