The students’ tower has a circular collector constructed from a surplus trampoline frame covered with transparent Mylar. The chimney is a length of ABS pipe and their generator is a tiny cell phone motor modified to run in reverse. The motor originally powered a vibration alert mechanism in the phone.
A cone at the base of he tower helps to direct the airflow so it doesn’t meet a 90-degree bend at the junction of the horizontal collector surface and vertical tower. "We tried to keep the flow as efficient as possible," [senior engineering student Andy] Lovelace said.
While experiments at this point haven't produced the expected wind speed of 6 mph within the tower, the students already have opinions on what changes will be needed to reach maximum efficiency. This model represents only the first effort by a student team, and Professor Hermann Fasel plans to sponsor another team next Fall to build an even larger scale model and continue the work. :: innovations report via Hugg