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History of Wind Power

March 16, 2016
Paul Gipe

New Photo of Anderson's Charles E Miller's Four-Blade Wind Turbine in 1926

The Madison County (Indiana) Historical Society was able to locate the photo that I'd seen on display in mid 2015 of Charles E Miller's 1926 wind turbine in Anderson, Indiana.

The photo is the same as that from the Indianapolis Star in a previous post. However, this photo is clearer and only contains the wind turbine and not the portrait of Miller and his estate.

As noted before, the rotor is downwind of the tower. This is a very unusual configuration for the period.

Also noteworthy is the stays used to brace the slender blades. They are more clearly visible in this photo.

It appears that the stay ending at the blade tip is attached via a bearing so that the entire blade can change pitch. Thus, with the linkage visible near the hub, and the bearing at the tip, the rotor appears to use full-span pitch control to regulate the wind turbine. This is advanced for the day and not unlike what the Danes were trying to do at the same time in Denmark.

Just a few years before Miller erected his wind turbine Danish engineers Johannes Jensen and Poul Vinding designed a six-blade wind turbine. Like Miller they used struts and stays to brace the blades. Similarly, the stays attachment at the end of the blades on their Agricco brand wind turbine allowed the blades to change pitch.

Jensen and Vinding's Agricco wind turbine is famous in the annals of wind energy for being the world's first wind turbine connected to an AC grid.

In contrast, Miller intended his wind turbine--as best as we can tell--to pump water and generate DC for off-the-grid use, for example, at dairies. There is not much more information on Miller and his wind turbines at this time. Historians will need to explore his archives--if they exist--to learn more about him and his wind turbine.

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