2008-12-14 09:33:21.000 – Jordan Scampoli,  Summit Intern

GUS Helical Wind Turbine

If the summit of Mount Washington is so windy, why doesn’t the Observatory use wind turbines to generate power?

I will attempt to briefly answer this question. The general public is mostly familiar with the three blade wind turbine. The summit cannot use this in the winter because so much centrifugal force is exerted by the spinning motion of the blades that if any rime ice were to form on the blades (which it inevitably would, since rime ice covers anything that the wind hits during freezing fogging conditions), this force could cause dangerous ice throws. Also the aerodynamics of the blades would be altered by the extra weight and different surface, which could cause structural failure of the system at high speeds.

A quick Google search of different wind turbines shows that most shut down at speeds around 60 MPH, and survivability wind speeds range from 50 MPH to 134 MPH. With the winds forecasted to be sustained at over 100 MPH tomorrow with higher gusts, the traditional three blade wind turbine would shut down and possibly be destroyed in a “not-so-uncommon” wind event.

However, wind turbine manufacturer Tangarie Alternative Power, represented in NH by Green Power Management has begun an experiment with the Mount Washington State Park testing their GUS vertical axis wind turbine. Yesterday a representative from Green Power Management along with the Mount Washington State Park installed the 4 foot tall helical shaped wind turbine. This is specifically designed for gustier conditions as well as higher speeds, as the smaller radius reduces the speed at the end of the airfoils and therefore the centrifugal force. Check out the MWSP website for webcams and updates.


Jordan Scampoli,  Summit Intern

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