We have researched various turbine types with a special focus on the vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT). Its orientation is transverse to the wind, meaning that it can spin regardless of wind direction. This is especially useful in areas below the treeline where wind speeds constantly fluctuate and change direction. The mechanics of a VAWT are simpler than a traditional horizontal-axis wind turbine (HAWT), as every component can be mounted on a single vertical rod or pole without the need for a nacelle (the electrical box at the top of a standard HAWT). With the advent of the power conversion components at the base of the turbine, maintenance of the energy source is both cheaper and less physically demanding. The GIF below does a nice job of illustrating HAWTs and VAWTs.
With one of our main goals being to construct a low-cost turbine, we have sought out the simplest solutions for the turbine blades. In the image above, the turbine on the left is called a Savonius turbine. Our design is similar, but uses two blades instead of three, hence the name: a two-scoop savonius turbine.