Dr. Michael Brendel
Aeronuatical Engineer and Inventor

Remembering Backyard Eggbeater

Article reprinted from The Journal - June 19, 1983

Motorists passing Mr. and Mrs. Joseph G. Brendel's house on Berkshire Avenue, Brookline, still talk about the 17-foot high "eggbeater" that stood in the backyard during the summers of 1979-1980.

Designed and fabricated by Michael Brendel, then a student at Clemson University, S.C., the egg beater was catually a prototype vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) that began as an undergraduate research project of Michael's when he was a mechanical engineering major in 1979.

"The original prototype was designed by Michael with as assist from his grandfather, Bert Tiegel of Greentree," Joseph explained. "It was erected on the lawn of our home in Brookline during the summer of 1979."

This prototype, complete with three rotor blades of styrofoam and fiberglass, watched over the flower beds in the Brendel's backyard all summer and was disassembled when Michael returned to school in the fall.

Backyard Wind Turbine on
Berkshire Avenue in 1980.
The 17-foot high vertical axis wind turbine that stood on the lawn of the Brendel's
Brookline home during the summers of 1979-1980.

"It was quite a conversation piece," Joseph said." Because of the configurations of the VAWT most people had no idea what it was, or they thought it was a television or ham radio antenna."

"When Mike first approached me with the idea I had some reservations," he added. "I didn't know if Mike would follow up on this or not. He's fairly diligent, and my reservations were only fleeting."

After returning to school, Michael approached Dr. Tah Teh Yang, professor of mechanical engineering, in an effort to persuade him to make the study of the VAWT principle an undergraduate project. Approval was granted, and two more students volunteered to complete the research team.

The three-man team set out with a goal in mind: To demonstrate what can be done with renewable energy sources, as well as to make the VAWT economically viable.

"Brendel is the workhourse of the project," Dr. Yang said. "He has seen it through the whole engineering process from conception to construction and actual operation."

Dr. Yang also noted that the research team's enthusiasm was contagious. It spread to the school's architecture, civil engineering and electrical engineering departments where students and staff worked to perfect the eggbeater's design, strength and circuitry.

After a comprehensive computer analysis was completed during the 1979-80 school year, a modified prototype VAWT was constructed in the Brookline backyard.

"A funding search was started and further engineering computer analysis continued through 1981," Joseph said. "Plans for a full-scale VAWT were being developed."

Installation of the Clemson University VAWT was completed on June 1982 on a site adjacent to the school.

Mike Brendel and the VAWT
constructed at Clemson University.
Brookline engineer Michael Brendel stands on the platform of his 29-foot tall
vertical axis wind turbine at Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.

Another "Pittsburgh connection" was added to the project when the Aluminum Co. of America (ALCOA) manufactured the device's rotor blades.

Michael received his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering in December 1981, and earned his master's in May 1983. Currently, Michael is employed at Clemson University as a research and teaching assistant while continuing evaluation of the VAWT concept.

In addition, he recently was awarded a graduate assistantship in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at Notre Dame University where he will begin work on his doctorate this fall.

Mike Brendel and the VAWT
constructed at Clemson University.
A photo showing how tall the VAWT turbine is in proportion to it's creator.

While not tinkering with wind turbines, the 24-year old engineer enjoys photography and working on automobiles.

During his undergraduate studies, Michael participated in the university's work/study program. For three summers he was employed by Horix Manufacturing Co. in Stowe Township as an engineering assistant, and one semester by American Enka Textile Company in Central, S.C.

When Michael in in between semesters, jobs or projects, he visits his father, mother, Regina, and two brothers: Douglas, 21, a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh; and Christopher, 19, a freshman at Gardner-Webb College, Boiling Springs, N.C.

Michael also has a grandmother, Mrs. Grace Brendel of Mt. Washington, and grandparents, Bert and Hazel Tiegel of Greentree.

A short followup (July 2008) ...

Dr. Michael Brendel worked on the VAWT project at Clemson for a couple of years until the project was shelved due to lack of funding. After earning his doctorate in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1986, Dr. Brendel went on to teach, first at Notre Dame, then at the Florida Institute of Technology and later at the University of Dayton. He left academics in 1995 to conduct research on automotive engine cooling systems. Currently, he is employed by LAU Industries as Vice President of Engineering and Marketing.

Mike now lives in Centerville, Ohio with his wife of 20 years, Cecilia, and their son David, a senior in high school. Mike and Cecilia and have a daughter, Kristina, who is attending her sophomore year at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Finally, two color photos of the backyard eggbeater that had Brookline residents playing 20 questions, submitted by the good Doctor himself. Thanks, Mike!

See More Photos of the Installation
of the Prototype VAWT in Brookline


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