For thousands of years, people have been harnessing wind energy to do work—from traveling around the world on sailing ships to milling grain using windmills. Today, wind is becoming more common as a renewable energy source through the use of wind turbines.
Wind turbines have four basic parts–a tower, turbine blades, a gear box, and a generator–that function together to convert kinetic energy from the wind into electrical energy. As the blades turn, they cause the gear box to turn, via a shaft. The turning gear box causes the generator to turn via a second shaft. The turning of the generator generates electricity.
The amount of electrical power that can be generated by a wind turbine is affected by many variables. In this experiment, you will explore variables that affect how a turbine turns. You will then use data-collection equipment to quantitatively investigate the effect of fan speed on the power output of a wind turbine.