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Albert Betz (25 December 1885 Schweinfurt - 16 April 1968 Göttingen) was a German physicist and a pioneer of wind turbine technology.

In 1910 he graduated as a naval engineer from Technische Hochschule Berlin (Diplomingenieur Schiffbau). In 1911 Betz became a researcher at the University of G√∂ttingen aerodynamics laboratory, where he was awarded his PhD in 1919 for his work on 'ship propellers with minimum loss of energy'. In his 1920 paper "Das Maximum der theoretisch m√∂glichen Ausnutzung des Windes durch Windmotoren" ("Theoretical Limit for Best Utilization of Wind by Wind Motors"). His work was based on earlier studies by Frederick Lanchester that included the first full description of lift and drag. The formulation was somewhat complex and had to wait for Ludwig Prandtl's version before becoming generally useful. Betz' law states that, independent of the design of a wind turbine, only 16/27 (or 59%) of the kinetic energy of the wind can be converted to mechanical energy. His book "Wind-Energie und ihre Ausnutzung durch Windm√ľhlen" ("Wind Energy and its Use by Windmills"), published in 1926, gives a good account of the understanding of wind energy and wind turbines at that period.

In 1926 he was appointed professor at Göttingen. In 1936 he succeeded Ludwig Prandtl as director of the aerodynamics laboratory, a position he held until 1956. From 1947 to 1956 he also headed research into hydrodynamics at the Max Planck Institute.

Betz was awarded the Carl Friedrich Gauss medal of the West German Academy of Science in 1965.

Preceded by
Ludwig Prandtl
Director of Aerodynamic Laboratory, University of Göttingen
Succeeded by
Hermann Schlichting


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