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Testing of the FolksWind 1.5kW vertical axis wind turbine

Williamson, Bethany (2011) Testing of the FolksWind 1.5kW vertical axis wind turbine. Internship Report, Murdoch University.

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In recent years the small wind industry has shown exponential growth; however there have been growing concerns over the safety and reliability of small wind turbines on the market. The International Electrotechnical Committee and the International Energy Agency are working to rectify these issues by introducing stricter requirements on small wind turbines; firstly through amendments to international standards and secondly with the introduction of a Standard Labelling Program to increase consumer awareness. In Australia, since commencing operation in 2008, the National Small Wind Turbine Centre has been working to improve the safety and performance of small wind turbines by providing independent testing services to manufacturers.

Pure Engineering Pty Ltd in conjunction with Tromes Design has engaged the National Small Wind Turbine Centre to test their 1.5kW FolksWind vertical axis wind turbine in accordance with the international small wind turbine standards contained within the international series of standards IEC61400. The prototype turbine is currently in the development phase. Over the course of this project the intern has assisted the centre with the testing of the FolksWind turbine. The majority of work undertaken has involved monitoring the power performance of the turbine to allow the manufacturers to make changes in an attempt to reach an optimal system configuration. Based on the data collected, changes have been made to the turbine power curve programmed into the system’s inverter in order to achieve an optimal tip speed ratio for the system. At the conclusion of the project, improvement has been made although a definite configuration for the system has not yet been determined.

In addition to power performance testing, measurement of significant vibrations present in the system has been undertaken. Vibrations consistent with the turbine’s rotational speed and the frequency of blade passing have been observed. Based on this data it has been found that, as well as posing a safety threat, the vibrations are detrimental to the system’s performance. The manufacturer aims to significantly reduce the magnitude of these vibrations through modifications to the system’s structural components.

The manufacturer has also requested that the National Small Wind Turbine Centre measure the strain in the uppermost guy wires to allow the thrust on the rotor to be calculated and an overall thrust curve for the system to be determined. This will allow the manufacturer to determine the required strength of a free standing tower for future production. As the final configuration of the system has not been determined this analysis is not yet complete however some preliminary data has been produced and the National Small Wind Turbine Centre will continue the process of determining the thrust curve for the final system configuration.

Item Type: Internship Report (Bachelor of Engineering)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Energy
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