Wind turbines to teach parametric design

Smitesh Bakrania, Krishan Bhatia, William Riddell, Leigh Weiss, Kevin Dahm

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A project in which teams of students are asked to design and build horizontal axis wind turbine rotors is presented. The goal of each team was to develop the greatest electrical power output given the constraints of wind velocity, swept area, a specified hub and mounting. In practice, the design of wind turbines is extremely complex. Therefore, to make the project tractable to sophomore level undergraduates, significant constraints were placed on the problem statement, which allowed calculations to inform teams' decisions. To evaluate design instances without constructing rotors, the students developed a computer program to predict turbine performance as function of rotor parameters. The faculty gave presentations to provide students with the requisite understanding to predict power output based on blade parameters such as angle, number, twist, shape and dimensions. As the students had differing levels of programming skills, an introductory lecture on MATLAB was presented. Since the design space was too large to systematically explore all the possible combinations, students were forced to develop design strategies that used existing turbine designs as starting points, or to develop their own strategies for searching the design space. The final designs were constructed and tested using a custom built wind tunnel. This paper describes the project implementation in detail; including the requisite theory to develop the rotor performance algorithm, the constraints imposed, materials supplied and details to allow reproduction of the testing apparatus. In addition, key insights in terms of assessment based on the student final reports are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2009
Event2009 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2009Jun 17 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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