Development of an Interactive Remote iLab for a Wind Energy System
MetadataShow full item record
Green technologies have been advocated for world over to address the adverse climate changes due to global warming, resulting from burning hydrocarbon-based fossil fuels for decades. Renewable energy sources such as solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, and biofuels have been put at the forefront of this advocacy. Wind energy in particular, has been used since the 1970s but has gained greater popularity only in the recent past. There is demand for highly skilled engineers and technicians to design and maintain wind energy systems. Training such personnel necessitates availability of modern laboratory facilities, which most training institutions cannot afford to put up due to their meager financial resources. Remote labs, also known as iLabs are increasingly being preferred over the expensive conventional physical labs to overcome this challenge so as to enhance learning in engineering disciplines. Remote labs allow the simultaneous sharing of expensive laboratory equipment between students and universities via the internet. This study led to realization of a wind energy remote laboratory that is used to enhance and improve learning about variables in a wind energy system. The laboratory set up consisted of a wind fan, a wind speed sensor, a miniature wind turbine, NI ELVIS II board, an Arduino 𝜇-controller, and LabVIEW 18.0 as the main parts. It enables the remote experimentation of how the wind speed, number of turbine blades, and rotor speed affect power output and efficiency of a wind energy system. Experimentation could be done for pitch angles ranging between 0° to 55°, but sample results were obtained only for pitch angles of 25° and 45° for the 3 turbine blade specs. of Custom-28, NACA-44 and NACA-63. The results were analyzed and benchmarked with known results from similar hands-on experiments and found to be in range as those in previous studies. A plot of power generated against wind speed produced a curve nearly similar in shape to the known theoretical wind power curve, confirming that the wind energy laboratory was operating according to the expected performance. The advantage of the laboratory is that it can accessed remotely by instructors and students anytime – even during lectures for demonstration purposes. The laboratory is recommended for use in situations of inadequate wind energy hands-on experiments and where there are high student numbers.