Western Alamance High School
Matthew Miller, 18, of Elon, studied how the placement of small bumps on the
side of the base section of wind turbine blades could dramatically affect their
aerodynamics for his Intel Science Talent Search project in engineering. The
small bumps act as vortex generators (VGs), and Matthew found that when they are
properly located, they increase the efficiency of the blade. He first tested the
approach with a propeller in a small wind tunnel he constructed in his familys
garage and found that VGs could increase propeller rotation by 10 percent. Then
in a university wind tunnel, he showed that the VGs could increase power from a
wind turbine blade by 23 percent and increase lift of an airfoil by 33 percent.
In a test conducted in a farmers field, he showed that VG-equipped wind turbine
blades were no noisier than conventional blades and made a more pleasant sound.
Matthew is senior class president, president of the National Honor Society and
plays varsity tennis at Western Alamance High School. He produces videos for
nonprofits and went to El Salvador with Global Health Outreach to help provide
medical aid. The son of Mark and Lisa Miller, Matthew was invited by President
Obama to be part of the first
White House Science Fair in 2010.