Windmills to Provide Power For Forest Data Monitors

Windmills to Provide Power For Forest Data Monitors

Windmills will generate power for meteorological stations that will monitor fire conditions in rugged forest areas.

The remote stations, designed by Southwest Research Institute engineers in San Antonio, will transmit data on environmental conditions in forests to a satellite orbiting the earth. The satellite will relay information to surface stations, where researchers will determine the degree of fire probability and, if a fire starts, the direction it will spread.

Merle E. Converse of Southwest explained that the forest fire probability monitor will consist of an electronics packate that will monitor wind velocity and direction, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, rainfall, and moisture content of dead wood, leaves and twigs. The battery pack powering the instruments will be recharged by a wind generator, with a 6-foot propeller, which will be on a 15-foot tower.

The windmill can generate 15 watts in a 10-mph wind, Converse said. The entire station can remain in remote forest areas unattended for several years.

The project is under the sponsorship of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Ames Research Center.

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