How to Design Wind Turbine Blades

Written by david mcguffin
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How to Design Wind Turbine Blades
Wind turbines turn as their blades generate torque, which turns the motor shaft. (wind turbine recycle image by redrex from

Wind turbines represent a viable form of renewable energy that homeowners can install as do-it-yourself projects. Typical wind turbine systems require an average of at least 7 to 10 miles per hour of sustained wind on a daily basis. While many do-it-yourself enthusiasts may prefer to construct their own parts from scratch, there are other options for purchasing generators, hubs and blades through a variety of retailers. However, designing your own blades can help to achieve the desired effect that you want with your particular system, as well as save money in building materials for the system.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • PVC pipe
  • Jigsaw
  • Sander
  • Construction paper
  • Pen

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  1. 1

    Measure out the blade length on your construction paper so that each blade is 24 inches long. The construction paper will serve as a model for crafting the blades out of PVC pipes. When selecting PVC pipes, the PVC blades should have a 1:5 proportion of thickness to length. For example, if the blade is 100 centimetres long, its thickness should be 20 centimetres.

  2. 2

    Cut the construction paper into quarters, lengthwise. Ideally, make a life-size model when designing the blades so that the production process is made easier by having a template. The construction paper should be the same length as the PVC pipe, and wide enough that you can wrap it around the PVC pipe section exactly once.

  3. 3

    Mark a horizontal rectangle on the bottom edge of each blade template, starting at one side. Cut out the rectangle. The purpose of the rectangle cut-out is to provide an attachment point for the base of the blades to connect with the generator shaft. The size of the rectangle will vary depending on the design of your generator and generator shaft, thus having your generator next to you while designing the blades will be useful. Some generator designs may call for the blades to attach to a disk or gear, which itself is fixed permanently to the shaft. In order to accomplish this, draw a circle on construction paper to represent the disk template. Place the blade templates in the desired locations around the disk template, and mark where you plan to drill holes through the actual PVC pipe and attach the blades to the hub via nuts and bolts.

  4. 4

    Mark and cut the construction paper blades so that they resemble aeroplane wings. The small "tip" edge of the blade should be flattened. Write with your pen on the template to indicate the leading edge of the blade, which should be tapered and rounded out on the actual PVC pipe. The trailing edge should be marked as well; write a note to remind yourself that the trailing edge should be flattened out with a sander when you actually build the blades from PVC pipes. Writing out notes on which part is the leading edge will help to keep your fabrication process organised. Once you have finished one blade design, you can use it as a template for the others which allows you to fabricate nearly identical blades. Most systems will have three to four blades.

  5. 5

    Cut off and round sharp corners with the scissors so that wind drag is reduced on your design template blades.

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