Wind energy is an affordable source of renewable energy, beating out even solar photovoltaic in terms of cost per kilowatt hour. To promote wind’s possibilities as a growing energy source, the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, holds a yearly competition called WindENG to which students across the country submit their designs for a wind generator operating off a DC (direct current) motor.
One of the competitors in the last competition was Aeroflux, which submitted (under the auspices of Mississauga Secondary School student Mhamad Salih) a 1,600-frame video covering a time span from October 2010 to April 2011 showing how some Mississauga students labored to design, build, test and document the process in a way that highlights the structural process without being boring. Check it out:
Direct current electricity, if you remember your high school physics classes, was the form of power favored by early electricity companies as well as inventors and power financiers (and Thomas Edison, inventor of the electric light bulb). Nikola Tesla’s brainchild, alternating current (AC), never gained a foothold as a result. When it comes to renewable energy resources, both solar and wind produce DC power, the wind turbine as a result of an inclusive DC rectifier.
The Aeroflux, which improves on a 2009 symmetrically rotating design in terms of the gear structure and gear ratio (from 64:1 to a lower 16:1), also capitalizes on students’ increasing video skills, notably stop-motion techniques. The video, set to the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, offers an interesting and lively counterpoint to the technical nature of the frames.
If asked to grade both the video and the attendant music, I think most adults would give them an A. These middle-school students are a far cry from my generation, at least, which seemed skilled only at faking illnesses, copying homework and skipping class. Mississauga Secondary School finished first out of 40 teams from 30 different Ontario schools with its wind turbine build and documentary. No surprise there, since both are in a class with the Eco-marathon 2012 green car challenge we reported on early in April.
By the way, there are some great photos of the AeroFlux team building the turbine on the Behance site.