3D printed WiscWind turbine could power cell towers

31 May

3D printed WiscWind turbine could power cell towers

India may be the Economic growth story of the last decade however all this growth came with a huge cost. The ageing government bureaucracy system and slow paced decision making has proved to be a complete failure to upgrade the country’s infrastructure to cope with the new age demands. If India needs to grow any further, a huge focus has to be put on improving its infrastructure which includes better roads, transportation system, and continues electricity.

Out of the 1.4 billion people in the world who have no access to electricity, India accounts for over 300 million. In the age of complete connectivity these people, keeping so many people out of the reach of mainstream population should be accounted a violation to the Right to Live.

So is everything so gloomy? , things are changing quickly in India, the new government has made policies to improve the general situation by adding newer power plants and investing huge amount of money into renewable energy sources like Mega Solar Power Projects.  But the issues with these measures is that they take long time to be executed hence there is a call for micro solution which can be delivered quickly to the people.

WiscWind turbine?

The solution comes from unexpected sources - A team of students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s a classic example of how the people can ignore the boundaries of the countries and be a part of the one true global village.

The teams of students were building the turbine for a national competition run by the American Wind Energy Association. The team was up against a challenge to create a device that was affordable and easy to install at remove off-the-grid areas. They designed a wind turbine which they call the “WiscWind”, the students focused its project abroad: on rural areas of India, to be precise.

Scott Williams, WiscWind leader and research & education coordinator at the Wisconsin Energy Institute, told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. "If you can replace the diesel generators with renewable energy, that's a big cost savings to the customer,"

The design for the WiscWind is pretty unconventional to the normal wind turbines we see, it has vertical axis with helical (spiral) blades. It has fewer moving parts than most wind turbine. This design makes it more efficient to its counterparts, and can be easily installed at poles and telephone network towers.

The 1st edition of the WiscWind was created using 3D printing with the help of a flashforge 3d printer they got access to at a 3D printing area of Sector67, a workspace/hackerspace/makerspace in Madison, Wisconsin. The earlier version was made into small parts however they soon got help from Midwest Prototyping, a professional 3D printing service provider. They donated a set of full-scale 3D printed nylon blades to the team, printed with an SLS 3D printer.

The Final test of their invention will happen at The U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition is taking place this week, May 23-26. But the team is quite confident as their project has already been awarded the “People’s Choice” and “Best Prototype” awards at UW-Madison’s Qualcomm Innovation Competition.

We sincerely hope these guys win the competition as it’s not just a victory for the team and the 3D printing technology but it’s a victory for the thought that we are all a part of a global village with just imaginary boundaries drawn around us. If ever we can break these boundaries this the world would be such a better place to live in.