Unique Arctic Wind Turbine Being Designed at SUSU


One of the most promising areas of development for renewable energy is wind energy. Researchers of South Ural State University have achieved significant results in this area. Postgraduate of the Department of Electrical Stations, Networks, and Electrical Systems of the SUSU Polytechnic Institute, Evgeniy Sirotkin, is participating in the creation of a wind turbine which can work in the harsh conditions of the arctic.

Wind energy is one of the most promising methods of obtaining energy. This source is not only ecologically clean, but non-exhaustible, too. Evgeniy Sirotkin is completing research in wind energy at the international innovation center Alternative Energy under the guidance of Evgeniy Solomin, professor, doctor of technical sciences. Work on this project allowed Evgeniy to become one of the winners of the contest Scientific Prospects held at SUSU as part of the 5-100 Project.

“Wind turbines are installations that transform oncoming wind streams into electrical energy. Oncoming wind streams make the rotor of the wind turbine turn. It is connected kinematically to the electrical generator, which produces electrical energy when rotating. Wind turbines can be divided into 3 main classes: large (power greater than 1 MW; as a rule, the height of such installations is greater than 100m), which are frequently seen in Europe and China; middle (from 100 kW to 1000 kW); and small, with power up to 100 kW. We are completing our research on small wind turbines,” says Evgeniy Sirotkin.

In Russia, the costs of a wind turbine do not easily compete with electrical energy created in electrical stations which process carbons, since our country is rich in gas and oil. But wind turbines have a place in those locations where there is no central electrical network. This is mostly the Arctic, the Northern Territories, and the Far East. There are not many buildings and structures there, so not much electrical energy is required. There, it is best to use small turbines.

“Right now, such installations are mostly supplied with power from diesel generators. But the cost of energy obtained from these diesel generators in the Arctic, in some cases, can go up to 80 rubles per kWh. For comparison, in Chelyabinsk, the average energy cost is 2 rubles per kWh. In addition, diesel generators are not meant to work 365 days a year in harsh climates. The cost of electrical energy obtained from wind turbines is only 5 to 10 rubles per kWh,” says the young researcher.

In part of the regions of the arctic zone near the cost, the wind speed is more than 5-7 m/s, which is considered very good for the economically effective use of wind energy. In general, researchers recommend using wind turbines for the safety needs of military bases, for tracking systems, and so on. The goal of South Ural region researchers is for wind turbines to survive the harsh winter work, since at wind speeds of higher than 11 m/s you must restrict the power of the wind wheel.

“What can happen if you don’t manage the power? The blades can split, since the wheel begins turning very fast – the centrifugal force destroys the blades and the wind wheel is damaged. There can be overheating in the electrical generator to the point of combustion. With fast wind speeds (greater than 25 m/s), there will be guaranteed damage to the wind turbine,” explains Evgeniy Anatolyevich, “People can die, or the energy supply to important structures can be compromised. Our goal is to make it so that the electromechanical system, which can slow the wind wheel when necessary, does not allow the turbine to rotate to its maximum speeds.”

The unique thing about the system developed by the research team is that it uses very little electrical energy for slowing. Everything happens automatically. The control system consists of mechanical and electrical blocks, a programmed microcontroller, and a number of measurement devices to monitor the current status of the main components of the wind turbine.

“The system that we’re creating does not have any match around the world. We plan on creating a small, innovative business which will work on selling these systems. In the Arctic, such a system can pay for itself in a week or a month – after the first storm wind. Wind turbines with a developed control system can be used in any storm, but without a control system they go out of service. And the whole cost of the electromechanical system is just 2-3 percent of the wind power system’s total cost, while its life cycle is 35 years,” explains Evgeniy Sirotkin.

Without a doubt, for the manufacture of turbines you need big industrial power: a shop to cast the blades, a shop to prepare the generator, and a shop to prepare the metal construction. So it was decided that a large defense company with whom joint work is already being completed will become the head business where the final construction of the wind turbines will take place. The research collective at SUSU will create the control system – both the typical system and the electromechanical one – and deliver a final product to the conveyer.

“In addition, we are completing joint research with American laboratories which participate in the development of these wind turbines. We work with the Japanese, who want to develop the area of vertical-axis wind turbines. Horizontal-axis wind turbines have been under development for a long time, their construction is fine-tuned and well developed. But vertical-axis turbines are just beginning to develop, and there is a big field for their research. They can be placed on building roofs or near residential structures, since they do not create vibration or infrasound noises,” shares the SUSU postgraduate.

Evgeniy Sirotkin’s plans include completing his postgraduate work and defending his candidate dissertation in this topic in two years. Evgeniy participates in international conferences and publishes actively. He has already published 6 articles in highly rated scientific journals indexed in Scopus and Web of Science such as Journal of Physics and Mechanisms and Machines.


Olga Romanovskaya, photo by Oleg Igoshin
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