Illuminated snow falling around a spinning turbine (Credit: Jiarong Hong and Michele Guala, University of Minnesota)
University of Minnesota researchers have harnessed the power of a blizzard to study airflow around large wind turbines, according to a university press release.
The Minnesota researchers braved a blizzard to set up a searchlight next to a 130-meter-tall wind turbine. The searchlight illuminated the snowflakes against the night sky, making it easy to observe and film airflow patterns around the turbine. The video was then digitized and synchronized with data from sensors on the turbine.
The wind energy industry is growing quickly, but interaction between airflows around many large turbines at wind farms leads to an estimated 10-20 percent energy loss. Many wind turbines are greater than 100 meters in height, making field research difficult.
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Top image: Illuminated snow falling around a spinning turbine (Credit: Jiarong Hong and Michele Guala, University of Minnesota)