Windmill Conversion

Project number: 
Tucson Village Farm, supported by Craig M Berge Community Project Fund
Academic year: 
The 33-foot-tall Aermotor 702 windmill outside of Tucson Village Farms serves as a beacon, welcoming visitors to the site. The windmill originally served as a naturally powered water pump, but the farm did not need this function. The team converted the windmill to produce electricity instead. It now performs the relevant function of generating renewable energy while also serving as an educational experience for visitors.

This conversion maximizes efficiency to harness energy from the wind while maintaining the aesthetic of the Aermotor 702. The team replaced the pump’s mechanics in the nacelle with a custom drivetrain to rotate a Permanent Magnet Alternator, generating three-phase electrical power to reduce energy loss leading down the tower. A charge controller at the base stores the energy in a deep cycle gel battery and safely dissipates excess energy in the form of heat to prevent overcharging.

The team also designed an interactive exhibit where visitors can produce electricity with a hand-cranked generator and see their results with an LED wattmeter, along with monitors for live data displaying the wind speeds and power generated from the turbine. Visitors and volunteers can use the stored electricity to power their devices with USB and electrical outlets.

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