Another cool project that I get to work on this summer is examining the potential to use bamboo as the blade material for a wind turbine. The hope is that we will be able to cut bamboo shafts into flexible rotors with a constant airfoil. Additionally, if the bamboo has the right material properties, the blades should remain straight during normal operation and furl (bend backwards to reduce the efficiency of the turbine) under extreme winds.
I was able to create several bamboo blade prototypes from a large stalk of bamboo using only a machete and a very small polishing sander. The results were much better than I had originally hoped for. Also, I’ve become an absolute ninja with a machete. On a more serious note, we’ve had a very difficult time finding bamboo large enough to achieve the optimal chord length for our airfoil of choice. A possible alternative to bamboo shafts would be forming the airfoil out of a bamboo laminate.