Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tarleton Thursdays: Did You Know?

"Wind Converted to Power by Bicknell"

"Wind Energy Conversion System May Provide Free Energy Source"

Today we see many wind turbines along the horizon all across west Texas! We now even have several in northern Erath County, as shown in the panoramic photo above. However, this isn't the first time wind turbines were mentioned in Erath County. In 1936 Tarleton freshman J.E. Bicknell, Jr, developed an apparatus that furnished electricity for lights and his radio in his home in Goree! The February 29, 1936 J-TAC pictured Bicknell's contraption, as shown above!

Bicknell used five dollars and a few junked automobile parts, a few pieces of second hand lumber and a lot of ambition in creating the wind turbine! He cut off each end of an automobile rear axle and attached a wind vane to one end and blades to the other. He installed a spindle and shaft to the differential, and then installed an automobile generator! When the wind blowed the electricity was stored an a battery connected to the generator. He concluded that if the wind blowed three days a week there would be enough stored electricity to furnish his home with plenty of power!

Another attempt to utilize a wind turbine was at Tarleton in 1981. A wind turbine was installed at the Ag Farm! It made electricity from wind energy and supplemented the energy from utility companies for the farm. "Tarleton's wind system serves three purposes. First, it helps to make the general public aware of alternative energy systems. Second, it helps us to gain experience with everyday operations and problems of wind energy conversion systems. Finally, it allows us to improve the reliability and efficiency of wind energy systems," said Dr. Jimmy McCoy, Associate Professor of Physics at Tarleton.

The wind turbine at the ag farm wasn't very reliable at first, and was not very price effective at first either. However, it enabled modifications and improvements, and further study of the utilization of wind turbines. Although the wind turbine at the college farm no longer exists, it was a new trend, and one that did continue to develop as we can see from the many wind turbines now on Huckabay Ridge!

We have certainly had a windy March.......lets hope that it goes out like a lamb so that we can welcome a gentle spring in a few days!

J-TAC February 29, 1936.

J-TAC April 9, 1987.

1 comment:

Cathy W. said...

Great information -- Interesting to see the progression of an idea that seems so long past due. Thanks!