Top 10 Wind Turbines


The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released their 20% Wind Report Card on July 8, following up on a study in which the Department of Energy proposed a goal where 20 percent of U.S. electricity comes from wind energy by 2030. The AWEA gave the overall U.S. push for wind power a “solid B”—high marks from an advocacy group that grades U.S. infrastructure. The highest letter in the report was an A- awarded for “Technology Development.” This is no big surprise—for years now, the government, alternative-energy researchers and entrepreneurs have been putting time and money into making better tech for cleaner, more efficient energy production. Here are 10 wind turbine designs that push the limits of the current design and may help the U.S. get back to being an A student by 2030.

1. Whale Power

1

What It Is

The company, Whale Power, has redesigned the typically smooth blades on a turbine, adding a series of ridges, based on tubercles, the bumps on humpback whale fins. The company says this new blade design could increase annual electrical production for existing wind farms by 20 percent.

How It Works

Humpback whales tilt their fins at steep angles to achieve better lift in the water. Too much tilt, however, has the opposite effect–a loss of lift, called stalling. Tubercles prevent stalling, allowing for more aggressive fin tilts. Whale Power’s tubercle-like structures on the turbine blades allow the blades to have steeper angles–without causing stalling or creating too much drag. During low wind, blades with steeper angles can theoretically generate significantly more power. Wind tunnel tests published by Frank Fish, president and founder of Whale Power, and by Duke University fluid dynamics expert Laurens Howle in 2004 showed that, in some cases, adding tubercle-like bumps to model fins pushed back the stall angle by as much as 40 percent.

Where To Find It

Testing on the tubercle-enhanced blades began in 2007 at The Wind Energy Institute of Canada in Prince Edward Island. A Canadian ventilation company, Envira-North Systems, will be the first to use tubercle technology in industrial fans.

2. Quiet Revolution qr5

2

What It Is

The qr5 wind turbine is designed for an urban environment with low wind speeds and changing wind directions.

How It Works

Traditional wind turbines capture horizontal winds and must rotate to follow changes in wind direction. The qr5′s helical design allows the turbine to collect wind from all directions equally.

Where To Find It

The first qr5 turbine was installed in Dagenham, a suburb of London, in March 2007. At the end of 2008, over 70 turbines had been installed throughout the United Kingdom, where each unit generates between 4000 and 10000 kilowatt-hours per year, according to the company.

3. Windspire

3

What It Is

Wind spire is a vertical wind turbine, similar to the Quiet Revolution. This 30-foot tall, 4-foot wide turbine generates 2000 kilowatts per hour given 12-mph winds, and it can survive winds up to 105 mph.

How It Works

Wind spire has a tall, thin propeller less rotor. It generates power when wind spins its vertical airfoils.

Where To Find It

These wind turbines have been installed across the county in homes, museums, businesses and schools. For example, the Michigan governor’s residence has a wind turbine, and Quinnipiac College in Connecticut is planning to use the turbines on campus to help power its buildings.

4. Mageen Air Rotor System (MARS)

4

What It Is

MARS is a high-altitude wind turbine that stays afloat with a helium-filled, airship-like body. It can be tethered up to 1000 feet in the air.

How It Works

MARS rotates around a horizontal axis as the wind hits fins along the side. The rotation generates electricity, which is transferred down the power line, which doubles as its tether, to the ground.

Where To Find It

MARS is still being tested, but it is scheduled to be released for commercial use in 2009 or 2010. Suggested locations for the turbine include off-shore drilling stations, islands, and mining sites.

5. Windbelt

5

What It Is

The Windbelt, created by PM Breakthrough Award Winner, Shawn Frayne, is a small-scale wind turbine that can generate 40 milliwatts in 10-mph winds and only costs a couple of dollars. The goal is to help the poor power their lights cheaply and safely.

How It Works

A pair of magnets fitted on a membrane oscillate between two wire coils to generate electricity.

Where To Find It

This wind turbine is aimed at Third World countries, with installations in Haiti and Guatemala.

6. Honeywell Wind Turbine

6

What It Is

Honeywell is a rooftop wind turbine that works in wind speeds as low as 2 miles per hour.

How It Works

The Honeywell turbine does not have gears like traditional wind turbines. Instead, it creates power from magnets in its blade tips and in the enclosure for the blades. This, claims Honeywell, results in lower resistance, which can mean higher energy output.

Where To Find It

The Honeywell is designed for homes and businesses. It will be available at ACE Hardware this fall.

7. WePOWER

7

What It Is

WePOWER is a vertical-axis wind turbine that operates quietly and performs well in low-speed winds.

How It Works

Unlike many turbines, which either rely solely on lift (in the case of traditional three-blade turbines) or drag (used in wind-speed gauge anemometers), WePOWER uses a combination of both. Its unique airfoil lets it produce power at low wind speeds.

Where To Find It

At Jay Leno’s garage, of course. WePOWER turbines are also used in wind farms, homes, cell towers and buildings.

8. Spiral Drag Wind Turbine

8

What It Is

This vertical axis turbine uses drag propulsion to push the blade that is designed as an involute spiral.

How It Works

The turbine uses aluminum vanes formed into an involute spiral–giving the blade extremely high surface area–to capture wind and rotate.

Where To Find It

The design is still in developmental stages.

9. Architectural Wind

9

What It Is

Architectural Wind is a small wind turbine that can be mounted on the top edge of a building.

How It Works

When wind hits a building, the resistance creates an area of accelerated air flow–straight up the side of the building. This wind turbine catches the faster winds as they travel up the wall.

Where To Find It

A variety of buildings have installed rows of these turbines, including the Maui Ocean Center in Hawaii and Logan International Airport in Boston.

10. Sky Serpent

10

What It Is

The Sky Serpent makes use of multiple rotors attached to a single generator.

How It Works

Past multi-rotor turbines have run into trouble because their rotors just catch the wind generated by the spin of neighboring rotors. The Sky Serpent’s rotors are spaced and angled to ensure that each one is catching fresh wind.

Where To Find It

These turbines are being built and tested in California, in part funded the California Energy Commission.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s