Daniel Connell, the creator of the SolarFlower has released another very useful DIY tutorial. This one is for building a wind turbine from scratch for only about $30 in material costs. The solution he proposes is a vertical axis wind turbine based on the Lenz2 lift+drag design.
The design Daniel came up with includes using aluminum lithographic offset printing plates to catch the wind, which can be gotten very cheaply, and perhaps even for free from offset printing companies, along with a number of other scrap materials, such as a bicycle wheel. Daniel has made plans to build either a three or a six vane version of the turbine. The three vane version can sustain winds up to 80 km/h, while the six vane one can sustain winds of up to 105 km/h.
Most of the materials for building the wind turbine can be repurposed, while the three vane version of the turbine can be easily built by one person in about 6 hours. One of the key components of an energy harvesting wind turbine is an alternator to the rotor. Danielâ€™s plans call for using a 50% efficient car alternator, as the most accessible and affordable option, which would be able to produce 158 watts of electricity in a 50 km/h winds, and 649 watts at 80 km/h winds.
Finding a method for storing the electricity produced is also important, though the energy harvested by the turbine could also be used solely for mechanical purposes like rotation of a water pump, or spinning a flywheel.
The construction of the wind turbine requires basic tools, such as a hand drill, a pop riveter and assorted hardware, like bolts, washers and nuts. A single DIY wind turbine like this is probably not going to be able to produce enough energy to power your house, though you might consider building a series of them and storing the energy produced in a battery bank. A solution like that would produce enough power for a small household.
Detailed written instructions can be found on the SolarFlower.org website. Below is also a video on the construction process filmed by Daniel.