The power of wind has been used for centuries to make human lives better and easier. In the past, it was used to produce food, grind grain, pump water, and cut wood at sawmills1. Today’s modern wind machines output electricity using massive—lengths greater than a football field—rotating blades. A turbine with blades over 350 feet in length can produce enough energy to power over 6,500 average US homes for an entire year! Energy costs are lowered but with larger turbines, electricity costs can be reduced further.

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Image of Dr. Todd Griffith holding prototype turbine blade.
Dr. Todd Griffith demonstrates his blade design for an offshore floating wind turbine.

The Griffith Lab at The University of Texas at Dallas is designing the world’s largest wind turbine with blades over 850 feet. This means new solutions for turbines used on land and in shallow coastal water. Developing reliable and cost-effective wind turbine designs for each of these regions involves the development of new technologies for better, lighter blades, new ways to operate wind turbines, and improved design methods. The overall result is a larger percentage of our electricity from clean, domestic, renewable sources along with numerous job opportunities created to design, build, and operate the wind turbines.

The future is exciting for Dr. Griffith and his team. They are looking at designing floating wind turbine systems for use in deeper waters. Additionally, they are working on digitizing wind energy by developing new solutions for “digital twins” which can provide virtual models for active wind turbines.

To find out more about this topic tune in to Research 411 Talk Show: Wind Turbines on Wednesday, April 21st from 11 AM to 12 PM.

1 U.S. Energy Information Administration