Engineers Without Borders attended the recent Makers Fair, and brought their low-cost wind turbine along to demonstrate. Intended to provide power for LED lighting in off-grid locations, the vertical turbine uses simple plastic or canvas blades and steel tubes, using a cheap DC motor (reversed) to create electricity. The device can managed 10-15 watts , sufficient to charge a 12-volt battery, and the upright design makes it more sturdy in the face of poor weather conditions and strong winds.
Check out the video of the turbine after the cut
Some clever shortcuts have been made to avoid requiring components unavailable in some of the areas the turbine could be deployed. Steel bearings, for instance, which reduce friction, have been replaced with teflon tape, typically used for sealing pipes. The turbine measures around two feet wide by three feet tall, and is designed to be bolted to roofs, towers or trees.
Currently the team is working on bringing down the cost. Sub-$100 is their eventual goal, using materials commonly accessible.