FloDesign, a Massachusetts based engineering firm, has designed a new wind turbine that deviates from the standard windmill in a compelling way. Its main feature is a stationary piece in front that directs wind into the spinning blades. Overall, the machine looks more like a jet engine than a wind turbine and it packs quite a punch as well – a FloDesign turbine can generate as much power as a conventional turbine twice its size.
FloDeisgn has a long list of reasons why its devices are superior to the status quo. At the top of that list is efficiency – regular turbines only capture around half of the energy stored in the wind that hits them. This is because they deflect a lot of that wind around them. The FloDesign turbine, on the other hand, sucks in that wind and utilizes much more of its energy. From a practical perspective, the smaller turbines require less material to build, are easier to install (as one example, the entire turbine could be packed onto a standard 18 wheeler, as opposed to turbine blades that require incredibly oversized flatbeds) and take up less land. Check out their rock music-infused promotional video.
They claim that their design also helps solve the NIMBY problem, because people don’t have to see the huge spinning blades from miles around. I am dubious that NIMBY participants will adore large, stationary structures that much more than large, moving structures, but this design does address one often overlooked issue: when wind turbines are built near workplaces, people often have to endure ceaseless oscillation of light and shadow, which can drive them nuts. These turbines solve that problem.
Prototypes are scheduled for testing over the next year or so. If all goes well, we could be seeing wind farms with these things soon afterwards. If these turbines can be successfully implemented, their significance should not be underestimated. The land and money needed to build a 1 GW wind farm could be used instead to build a 2-3 GW wind farm. We sometimes think that wind can only work if we build bigger, bigger bigger. FloDesign argues that, using some clever aerodynamics, we can squeeze more juice out of smaller, smaller, smaller.
Via Cleantechnica, MIT Technology Review
written by Magnulus, December 01, 2008
written by David Keech, December 01, 2008
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