We’ve all felt the wind on our face. Maybe it was at the beach, or maybe it was just a rare windy day in your neighborhood. But we’ve all felt that invisible energy rushing past us. With the rising search for clean and useful energy, wind turbines are becoming more common, capturing the energy created by that rushing breeze. Many may see them on the hills, or even a little off the coast, sticking out of the ocean. Perhaps a wondering thought has come to mind:
How exactly does a wind turbine create usable energy?
It’s actually not too complicated to understand. When a nice, windy spot looks right for a wind farm, aerodynamic modeling is used to design the right wind turbine for that area. The perfect tower height, control systems, number of blades and the shape of the blades is determined by using a little physics. So, the wind turbine in an earthy area may differ quite a bit from the wind turbine off the coast.
After a suitable turbine is designed, built and ready to go, it converts the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical power. While this mechanical power can be used for smaller chores, like grinding grains or pumping water, it can also be converted into electricity through a generator. The wind turbine works rather simply:
The wind turns the blades
As the blades turn, the shaft connected to them—which is also attached to a generator— will turn
As the shaft turns, the generator produces that precious electricity
But to truly capture this electricity, a wind turbine will usually have a gearbox that converts the low speed incoming rotation to something a little speedier that’s better for generating electricity.
Quicker Gearbox = More Efficient Electricity Production
The smaller wind turbines that are used for grinding grain are simply called windmills, while those used to pump water are referred to as wind pumps. Some actually charge batteries and are understandably named wind chargers. Wind turbines make the most of the wind, which will never run dry since it’s a renewable energy. As long as the heat of the sun is around to warm the atmosphere, there will always be wind, making wind turbines quite useful both now and in the future.
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