Predicting Power Outputs of Wind Turbines on Highways

Friday, February 12, 2016
Nivetha Karthikeyan, High Technology High School, Marlboro, NJ
Over the past several decades, wind energy has become especially prominent in the United States due to the sheer abundance of wind and the relatively high efficiency of wind turbines. Despite its potential, though, wind energy is hindered by geographic constraints (as it requires large plots of land in naturally breezy areas) and by its integration inabilities (as it cannot connect simply with the existing electrical grid). While these issues have been resolved in rural, sparsely populated regions of the United States where sprawling wind farms are prominent, urban areas still face difficulty with effectively utilizing wind energy. By decentralizing wind, however, and placing wind turbines by ubiquitous, man-made sources of wind such as highways, this problem would be solved. In order to determine whether this was a feasible possibility, this research experiment used theoretical mathematics combined with data collected from real-life trials to predict the amount of power that would be generated by wind turbines installed by any specific highway. The resulting value for power could then be used to determine whether installing turbines near certain roads is economically logical. Relationships between air pressure, temperature, turbine diameter, turbine height, average car speed, traffic density, and turbine efficiency were determined to generate a final equation for predicting average power output.