DIY Windmill Project Kicks Off Earth Week
Earth Week 2013 started off at Greenovation on East Main St with the meeting of a new Group called DIY Renewables. The initial group consisted of 15 people working in conjunction with another project known as In the City Off the Grid. "The Grid" refers to the private, centrally controlled electrical distribution system; in Rochester's case that's RG&E. "We re at the end of an empire that has built itself on consumption and commodification of human lives. Poverty is not an accident and control of energy has a lot to do with it."
Plans are to convert a permanent magnet motor such as this one from an electric wheelchair into an electrical generator
The goal is to construct a wind powered generator from materials that are commonly available to the general community for free or at low cost. It needs to be replicatable so that others can construct identical or similar units easily. Information has to be shared and open source. It needs to make a difference. We need to raise awareness and establish community support.
The final outcome may or may not resemble this home made wind turbine
Most people are familiar with the wind turbine design, which usually resembles a large airplane propeller mounted atop a tall tower. But that is not the only option. There is also a vertical axis design which resembles a giant eggbeater. Vertical axis has the advantage of not having to be pointed into the wind every time it changes direction. Another design called ground effect was discussed as well. Think of a playground swing set blowing in the wind. Its advantage is that it captures wind near the ground and doesn't require a tall tower.
A conventional wind turbine design. The final project may resemble one of these. The tail fin acts as a sail to point it into the wind.
Another challenge is what to do with the power generated, and how to store it for times when the wind isn't blowing. Batteries, compressed air and flywheels were some of the contenders. Then there is the question of what type of electricity to produce. AC, to feed surplus back into the power grid or share on a local "microgrid" (think of a local area computer network)? AC could power existing electrical appliances. Or DC which can be used to charge batteries and power electronics and high efficiency lights like LED's.
The vertical axis design has the advantage of not having to be kept pointed into the wind
We need to do some research, our goal is to know how to build something in the next 10 weeks. We want to say "We built this and it is currently powering this room." For those interested in participating the group plans to meet on Tuesday nights at 7pm at Greenovation 1199 East Main St.