Vertical axis wind turbines
“Can we make wind turbines to be placed on another axis?”
Wind turbines are famous for their horizontal axis rotor design, looking like giant fans in the distance. However, do things have to be this way, and could it be possible to shift the turbine onto another axis? Well, let’s think about it. We know that the wind is always blowing perpendicular to a post in the ground. We also know that this wind can exert a pushing force on objects in its direction and that if such an object was freely attached a solid post a torque would be induced that would cause it to move around said post. Now, what if we were to take this torque and have it spin a generator to make electricity? Well, this turns out to be the operating principle behind a vertical wind axis turbine. The symmetric design of vertical wind axis turbines (also known as VAWTs) allows them to not need to “track” the direction of the wind (as the machine would be affected equally in all directions), place less fatigue on the gearbox, and can possibly be more efficient than traditional wind turbines. However, VAWTs are also more failure prone, which could prove to be burdensome on a company’ economics.