Wind Systems

Windmills: gyroscopes with a pituitary problem

... forces in odd directions

Like it or not, a windmill is also a gyroscope, having all the funny properties of the toys that mystify children and adults alike.  Try to re-orient the axis of the gyroscope one way and the device tries to go at right angles to the direction you try to turn it.

Imagine a windmill whose axis points east into the wind, and whose blades turn clockwise as seen from the east.  Now suppose that the wind direction changes so that the wind suddenly comes from the southeast.  Instead of just turning to face the wind, the windmill attempts to tip upward, causing considerable stress on the tower that holds it.

A vertical-axis windmill does not suffer from that problem.  True, it's a gyroscope, but if the wind changes direction, there is no need for the axis of rotation to change direction.

One such vertical-axis windmill is being installed on the top of Mount Evans, west of Denver, Colorado, to provide power to the observatory owned by the University of Denver.  It is manufactured by TMA, LC  of Cheyenne, WY

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