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What if you could power your vehicle by bolting an energy-storing, rotating, and flapping device to your roof? The device could generate the energy, pump it to the engines, and store the extra amount for later usage too.

While this might be an idea from the future, a group of four BNMIT students recently demonstrated a wind turbine prototype that can recharge your smartphone, tablet, headsets; all this, while you are on the move. The prototype has been developed by Aditya Sunku, Omkar N Kashyap, Sankarshan S, and Vighnesh Nandavar, four recently graduated students from the department of Mechanical Engineering, BNMIT, under the guidance of Dr. D Shivalingappa, professor, BNMIT.

(From Left) Omkar N Kashyap, Aditya Sunku, Dr. D Shivlingappa, Sankarshan S, Vighnesh Nandavar.

The prototype works as follows.

The portable wind turbine can be installed on the top of a vehicle. Once the vehicle is set in motion, it generates wind energy which in turn leads to the rotation of the turbine blades producing electrical energy that can be used to charge auxiliary devices.

According to Dr. Shivalingappa, the idea is the reverse of the system in western countries where turbines are installed on the road and are rotated by the wind generated by moving vehicles, thus converting kinetic energy of the wind to electrical energy.

To test the efficacy of the prototype, the team went around the campus with the turbine mounted on the college vehicle, and result were encouraging. ‘At a speed of 30 km/h, a power of approximately 12 W was generated, with the turbine rotating at 1000 rpm. On highways, the turbine can rotate much faster and thus higher power can be produced,’ said Omkar N Kashyap, one of the team members.

A vehicle’s average speed (80-110 km/hr) on a highway creates a wind speed of around 22-26 m/s. When this strikes the blades of the turbine, the turbine starts rotating. This in turn rotates the DC generator which produces sufficient voltage that can be used to charge the battery through a voltage amplifier and a regulator.

It was clear from the test that with little modifications in the design of the prototype, the turbine can generate enough power to charge multiple auxiliary devices when on the move, on highways.

‘The efficiency of the prototype can be improved by changing the blade profile and using a higher rating generator. Even the frame can be changed, to make it aesthetically more pleasing,’ added Vighnesh.

The wind turbine prototype mounted on a vehicle.

Wind power in urban setting

The team zeroed in on this project with the aim to improve the efficacy of some of the existing compact wind turbines that can be used in the urban settings.

‘While various types of compact turbines are available, there is a need to optimize the power generated by changing blade profiles. In this case, we selected the Savonius Wind Turbine model and after careful analysis and computation, we deduced that the blade profile used by us is comparatively more efficient than the original,’ said Sankarshan S.

According to Aditya Sunku, although wind energy is the most reliable and constant form of renewable energy, it is not being utilized to its full potential in the urban settings.

‘One cannot tap solar energy on cloudy days and at nights, and water is not available everywhere to harness. But the wind energy, to a point, is free from these limitations, it is not being utilized fully. Apart from exploiting the wind energy generated by a moving vehicle, these compact wind turbines can also be installed at various locations in an urban environment such as balconies or open areas where consistent and good wind speed is ensured. The power generated thus may be used as secondary source of energy,’ said Aditya.

The project is currently under industrial design registration process and is a NewGen IEDC project of BNMIT supported by DST, Government of India.