Friday, March 6, 2009

You can't eat a muffin fan but....

We process thousands of these muffin fans in our recycling facility every year. Just about every computer, power supply and piece of network gear has at least one inside. Some are sold but most get scrapped, or at least they did, before my 7 year old gave me an idea.

For show and tell at school, he was determined to show the other kids how to harness wind energy with a muffin fan like this one. Connect a flashlight bulb to the fan's power wires, catch a breeze and shazam! the light glows as long as the fan is turning.

My son's idea got me going. I measured just under a half an amp out of the 4 inch fan I tested. I left it running in a good breeze for over a week and it worked just dandy, providing power to a load (which was actually another fan).  If you built a windmill array of 4 inch fans in four rows of five, the array size would be about 20" wide and 16" tall. Total output from the array would conceivably be around 8 amps at 12 vdc. Not a bad afterlife for the otherwise ill fated muffin fan!

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