Wind Energy – Mixed Reality Simulators for Wind Energy Education


Mixed Reality Simulators for Wind Energy Education

US Dept. of Education – FIPSE Award: $749,853

January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2013

Click here for the full FIPSE project page


The issue of transferring learned concepts to practical applications is a widespread problem in postsecondary education. Related to this issue is a critical demand to educate and train a generation of professionals for the wind energy industry. With initiatives such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s “20% Wind Energy by 2030” outlining an exponential increase of wind energy capacity over the coming years, revolutionary educational reform is needed to meet the demand for education in the field of wind energy.



Screenshots of wind turbine simulator software


The development and implementation of Mixed Reality Simulators and accompanying curriculum will propel national reforms, meeting the needs of the wind energy industrial movement as well as addressing broader educational issues reaching beyond green energy and affect a number of disciplines. Five simulators are being developed to allow students to go inside a virtual wind turbine in virtual reality and interact with all major systems, providing training for maintenance/repair, safety, and siting of wind turbines.



Screenshot of wind turbine siting simulator software


Air flow around vertical wind turbine


An interactive software with the capability to display wind turbine structure, aerodynamic and wind energy transformation has been developed. Aerodynamics around wind turbine has been simulated using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) technique. As an ongoing project, more simulators are currently being developed, such as a mobile device application to simulate siting of wind turbines.

Technician training simulator, and wind turbine design simulator – These simulators enable students to practice the troubleshooting process necessary to keep wind turbines up and running, as providing them with insights into turbine components and the aerodynamics of wind turbine blades. 

3-D Virtual Wind Turbine – This is a recording from within the immersive 3D wind turbine simulator, used to provide a sense of scale and additional information on turbine components. This simulator is being developed to tie-in with virtual wind farm data to be used by technicians for maintenance and troubleshooting training.

A number of Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) simulations are being developed to assist in describing aerodynamic properties of wind turbines. In this video, a flyby of streamlines showing the flow of air through a series of three wind turbines is conducted. The streamlines are colored by the speed of the air, with red being fast and blue being slow. Also, the wind turbines themselves are colored by pressure, with red being high and blue being low.

This Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) is mounted on top of the Student Union and Library Building (SULB) at Purdue Calumet in Hammond, Indiana. Wind sensor data and a live video stream are being integrated with CFD simulations and will be made available through online modules to enhance student learning.

To better understand the effect of wind fields on small-scale turbine, flow simulations have been conducted around the Purdue Calumet campus in Hammond, Indiana. The simulations have been used to inform the placement of a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) by revealing both positive and negative flow characteristics such as turbulent areas that can affect wind turbine performance.

Sponsor: U.S. Department of Education, FIPSE (749,853 for three years)
Faculty & Staff: Phuong Do, Doreen Gonzalez-Gaboyan, John Moreland, Xiuling Wang, Bin Wu, Chenn Zhou

Wind energy project flyer.
Download Wind Energy Flyer