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Twice Area Misconception
This is one of the biggest misconception about an action type VAWT. It is a well known fact that
VAWTs use half the area exposed to the wind to generate power. However, it is also a misconception
that a HAWT uses the full area it sweeps to generate power. When someone states that a VAWT needs
twice the area of a HAWT to generate equal power (s)he immediately assumes that the area swept by
a HAWT is a solid surface and that all the air particles that have passed through that area have
touched the blades and generated power. This is not the case, some air particles do in fact pass
through the HAWT without ever touching a blade. This is not desirable, which causes efficiency
of the HAWT to drop.
Before the Jet age, propeller type military air crafts were firing their machine guns through the
propeller blades. Picture this: a propeller is rotating at 2000 rpm and a machine gun is firing
at 400 rounds per minute, but none of the bullets ever touch a blade. Of course this is the desired
effect, if it were touching the propellers you would be shooting yourself instead of the enemy.
But why were the bullets not touching the propellers? Because the machine gun was synchronized
with the rotating blades...a simple concept!
You may ask what does this simple concept has to do with HAWT? In fact it has a lot do with it.
Imagine if you will that a zillion air particles are coming toward a HAWTs blades and that these
blades are rotating at their optimum rotation speed. One way or another many of the air particles
will make contact with the blades and this will cause the air particles to come in contact with
the blades to transfer a portion of their kinetic energy to the blades. At the same time, some
air particles, just like the machine gun bullets, will be in sync with the blades and will
naturally pass through them without ever touching the blades. The natural synchronization of
air particles and blades is not desirable and can not be eliminated. One may assume that by
putting more blades on to the HAWT (like the old American Windmills) that this problem can be
eliminated. Unfortunately, the solution is not this simple and putting more blades could be
problematic (this will be explained later somewhere in this site).
To demonstrate the air particles passing through the blades of a HAWT I made the following flash animation.
In this animation the blue bubbles moving from left to right represent air particles with their full
kinetic energy. The green bubbles represent the air particles that have made contact with a blade and
therefore have passed some of their kinetic energy to the the blades. By moving the slider next to
the air stream up or down you can change the location of the air stream, with respect to the blades.
You can also move the stream closer or further away from the rotation center by moving the slider down
or up respectively. The red dots on the blades represent where the air particles will hit the blades.
Notice that these red dots also change their positions when you move the slider. The black dot represents
the air stream when you are looking at the air stream from behind the rotating blades. It is assumed
that when the red and black dots are in contact the air particles are hitting the blades and the blue
color will change to green. However, when the red and black dots are not in contact there is no color
change and this means that the air particles are passing through the blades without ever touching a
single blade. The second slider changes the rotation speed of the propeller however it does not change
the speed of the air particles. When you move this slider you will observe that the interaction behavior
has changed, however there are still some blue air particles passing through the blades even though the
blades are rotating faster.
The actual interaction between the blades and the air particles is a much more complex phenomenon than
what is described above and shown in this simple flash animation. In any case, this animation
demonstrates that air particles will pass through the blades without ever touching a blade no matter
how fast the blades are rotating. The slower the rotation of the blade, the more air particles pass,
while faster rotation reduces the number of freely passing air particles, there are still some that
This means that a VAWT does not require twice the are of a HAWT. In actuality during low wind speeds
the HAWT may require more area than a VAWT to generate the same amount of power and that is why HAWTs
are much more inefficient than VAWT during very low wind speeds.
By designing flaps and restricting their rotation to 90 degrees one can produce power from flapturbine
even when the sail making negative motion ( please read about my conventions in
here). This power generation might
not be comparable with positive motion of the sail, but still it is not a negative power as it would
be in Savanius type turbines. To test the idea I mounted only one sail to my flapturbine which had airfoil
shaped plastic flaps. I arranged air flow such that it is concentrated upper portion of the sail due to
small size of wind source for my test. It showed that the sail would move against the wind due to its
arrangement and it was possible to obtain continuous rotation. Even it is stopped a couple of
times it would start rotating when it is released. Notice that Hasan Usta
(experienced mechanics are called as Usta in my native language) the first person in the video was stopping
and releasing the sail when the flaps where in full open position.
In one instant our mechanic Hilmi Usta the second person in the video,
give small push to the sail that I warn him not to do that, and second time Hilmi Usta was more gentle.
Even Hilmi Usta who does not know anything about wind turbines showing me in the video that lower flaps were not
operating, and he was saying that it would be much better if they were working. Unfortunately my wind
source was not covering all the area. Later I tested the turbine outside with wind blowing and it worked
beautifully, unfortunately I do not have a video of it, please just trust my words for it and Enjoy the video