Creating a wind turbine from recycled materials is a great way to harvest renewable energy and reduce waste. With some creativity and DIY skills, you can build a functional turbine from items that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Gather the Necessary Materials
The blades are the most important component of a wind turbine. For blades, you’ll want to find lightweight but sturdy materials like plastic bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard, or plywood. I was able to scavenge old 2 liter soda bottles from recycling bins and plywood scraps from a construction site.
You’ll also need materials for the turbine housing and base. Options include:
Metal poles – conduit, pipes, rods
Wood boards – plywood, timber, pallet wood
For the motor, you can salvage components from an old appliance like a box fan or vacuum cleaner. The motor should be high torque to handle starting and stopping.
You’ll also need:
- Nuts and bolts to assemble the parts
- Wire to connect the motor
- Adhesives like glue or epoxy
Design and Build the Blades
I modeled my blades after a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) design for simplicity. Here are the steps I followed to construct the blades:
First, cut the plastic bottles and plywood into long triangles using a utility knife. Make sure they are equal sizes.
Next, overlap the triangles and use industrial strength glue and screws to laminate them together. The plywood provides support while the bottles create a curved airfoil shape.
Leave a hole in the center of each blade to attach it to the motor shaft later on.
I built 3 large blades to maximize power generation. The finished blades were 48 inches long by 16 inches wide.
Assemble the Motor and Housing
Now it’s time to build the body of the turbine:
Mount the motor onto a wooden platform using bolts. Ensure it is aligned vertically.
Attach the blades to the motor shaft. Space them evenly to balance the rotation.
Build an outer housing from PVC piping or timber to enclose the motor.
Fasten vertical guide wires from the top to the base to secure the structure.
Attach tail fins opposite the blades to keep the turbine facing the wind.
Mount the Turbine on a Tower
To catch the most wind, mount your turbine as high off the ground as possible. Here are a few options for towers:
- Metal pole pounded into the ground
- Wooden tower made from lumber
- On the roof of a shed or garage
Wire the motor to a battery on the ground to store the generated electricity.
Get Your Turbine Spinning!
Once fully assembled, your recycled wind turbine is ready to start transforming wind energy into usable electricity!
With a little imagination and sweat equity, you can build a fully functional wind turbine using trash items that are free and easy to find. Get creative with your own design and enjoy the satisfaction of green power generation.