Unlike large open windmill farms, extracting wind energy in an urban scenario is challenging because of the tight space constraints and turbulence of the wind profile. Although small-scale Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs) appear to be the first choice, they suffer from certain drawbacks such as extreme sensitivity to magnitude and direction of wind and large spacing requirements.
The goal is to conduct foundational research towards developing a revolutionary vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) with dynamic blade pitching (unlike the traditional fixed-pitch ones), which is proven to be more efficient, self-starting at extremely low speeds, self-adjusting to rapid fluctuations in wind speed/direction and achieves high efficiencies at low tip speed ratios (rotational speeds).
Envisioned are applications involving small roof-top farms of such small-scale wind turbines, which could be the solution for efficient wind power generation in urban environment, where energy needs are very high and wind-conditions are extremely unpredictable.
We believe that the present turbine could revolutionize wind-power generation, especially in space-constrained urban environment. Note that this idea of dynamic-pitch VAWT proposed by Dr. Benedict was the Grand Prize (25K) Winner of the Lockheed Martin 2012 Innovate the Future Global Challenge where the winning idea was selected out of 500 global entries.
Lab collaborator Zachary Adams with a large-scale VAWT