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Blown away: capturing the power of the wind


In 2010, with the support of Dr Les Duckers, Principal Lecturer in Environmental Management at Coventry University, Alcester High School was awarded a Partnership Grant by the Royal Society, to investigate the efficiency of the Savonius Rotor – a kind of wind turbine. In a major collaboration between the Design and Technology, Science and Maths Departments in the school, participants built three Savonius Rotors with varying numbers of blades. Working with Temple Grafton, a local Primary school, pupils are gathering data on wind speed, to determine the efficiency of each rotor and its usefulness as a source of renewable energy.

How does it work?

A Savonius Rotor, or turbine, is a kind of vertical axis wind turbine. The wind blows on the blades of the rotor and makes them turn. The blades turn a shaft. The shaft goes into a gearbox which increases the rotation speed enough for the generator, using magnetic fields, to convert the rotational energy into electrical energy. The power output goes to an invertor which converts the electricity coming out of the generator to 240v AC for domestic use.

In the past, Savonius rotors have been considered poor generators of energy, but this investigation is contributing to recent research which suggests that the Savonius has a useful part to play in creating reliable sources of renewable energy.

See all exhibits from 2011