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Wind Turbine

Design Project

Stresses Worse.JPG
Hotter Flange.PNG

Class: Introduction to Computer Aided Engineering (ME 408)

Year: Fall 2018

Goal: Design, test, and validate a wind turbine to optimize the tower structure for minimum cost, cross sectional area, and weight, while adhering to all the design requirements/requests


  • Tapered beam of consistent thickness of 0.45 ft

  • Tested for deflection, stress, factors of safety, natural frequencies (eigenvalue analysis), and changes in height due to temperature

  • Tested for both normal conditions and "worst-case" conditions due to wind and other natural phenomenon

  • Tested using bolts commercially available

  • Consistent with given dimensions, qualifications, and requirements of the wind turbine

Technical Details

The main goal of the project was to design a 500 feet tall wind turbine tower that supports the weight of the nacelle and the three turbine blades, and satisfies all given structural and thermal constraints. The design should minimize the cross sectional area and the mass of the tower, thus minimizing the amount and cost of material used.

Several natural phenomenon had to be considered, as materials of the wind turbine power will have different physical properties depending on the weather and temperature. The tower had to be analyzed for the whole range of operating temperatures, which was given to be -10 °F to 110 °F. The wind speeds ranged from 60 mph (normal operating conditions) to 100 mph (worst case scenario). The case when one of the three wings falls off the turbine was also considered, and analyzed.

Every simulation was coupled with hand calculations, to validate and verify the results. The maximum deflection, maximum stress, stress factor of safety, buckling factor of safety, natural frequencies, and changes in height due to temperature were calculated with both FEA using ANSYS APDL and ANSYS Workbench and hand calculations.

The base plate connection consists of a flange, and 112 ASTM A4419-Type 1 bolts, each with a 3 inch diameter. The tower was designed to be a tapered beam, with consistent thickness of 0.45 feet. The dimensions were finalized after hand calculations and further refinement with the FEA programs.

All design criteria and requirements were met. The technical report can be found here.

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