Wind turbines have been a triumph of renewable energy technology. That's a fact. But their design leaves plenty of room for improvement.
The three blade system means that more wind power passes around its blades than through its motor, and their rigid structure prevent turbines from capturing the super-strong winds that blow thousands of feet in the air. Some experts insist the total energy within these winds is 100 times the amount needed by everyone of the planet.
The trick is how to catch this power.
Some research groups have developed advances on the humble kite to try and harness wind's immense power, but there is another way.
"Flying wind turbine"
Selsam, the self proclaimed alternative energy innovator (check their website here, complete with plenty of photos and videos), have developed a "flying wind turbine" that is capable of stretching beyond the reach of the traditional turbines and turning these high winds into high voltage.
These "Superturbines" are also far more efficient that the old-fashioned windmill as it eliminates all components that do not directly contribute to power generation, resulting in a low-cost wind turbine.
The Selsam Superturbine is equipped with multiple, synchronous, small rotors and with a universal joint that enables it to tilt - but not rotate - like a reed bending in the wind. Selsam's prototypes produce 6000 watts in 32.5 mph winds - six times more power than a similarly sized seven foot single-rotor turbine can produce. The turbines can be easily deployed by land and by sea, and their effectiveness can be amplified even further via an air-born blimp.
The company website describes the turbines as so: "Like a flock of geese, each rotor favorably affects the next in line. Like a set of louvres, the tilted rotors pull in fresh wind from above, deflecting their wakes downward to insure fresh wind for succeeding rotors and, like a stack of kites, to add overall lift which helps support the driveshaft against gravity and downwind thrust forces.
Wind turbine industry reaching a tipping point
"The rotors act as gyroscopes or spinning tops, stabilizing the driveshaft where they are attached."
Since the turbines rotate at higher rpms than traditional turbines, a small and light direct-drive generator can be used instead of a hulking gearbox.
The traditional wind turbine industry is reaching a tipping point as companies, such as energy giant GE, admitting they unable to make turbines fast enough to meet demand. No surprise when you consider the huge manufacturing process involved.
The stripped down Superturbine is more efficient, and cheaper and easier to produce than than large lumbering windmills, and also extremely versatile.
The Superturbine can been attached to the top of skyscrapers or placed offshore, where it is capable of withstanding harsh weather and storms while at the same time harnessing their power. When necessary, it can lay itself down or submerge completely using its flooding chambers. It also poses no risk to passing vessels, since it is relatively lightweight and mobile.
Aside from having the potential of being mid-air blenders for gormless birds, Selsam's innovative Superturbine has the potential to truly be the future of, not just wind energy, but renewable power in general.
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