Wind Turbine Concept Inspired by Jet Engines
According to a recent article from Greentech Media, a Massachusetts aerospace company called FloDesign is working on a wind turbine concept that could potentially be at least twice as efficient as traditional rotor blade turbines, which force air around them instead of through them. It works by channeling wind into a vortex that spins the blades and generates electricity. The company hopes to have a working prototype completed by the end of 2009. Unfortunately their website at flodesignwindturbine.org is not currently functional, but the following video gives a great overview and technical details.
Benefits of FloDesign Turbines
The traditional prop acts as an obstruction to airflow, forcing air around it instead of through it. To compensate for this, props are built at huge sizes, with blades around 150 feet long. Their size makes them fragile, requiring low rotational speed, and large gearboxes. FloDesign’s wind turbine extracts 3-4 times as much energy from the wind, allowing much smaller and faster blades. Diffusers provide greater efficiency at the expense of weight and length, and they are prone to separation of flow and losses. FloDesign’s mixer duct is less effected by off-axis flow, or turbulence, and uses FloDesign’s mixer ejector uses axial vorticity.
It’s like an Archimedes screw for air. When the two flows meet from different angles, they create a rapid mixing vortex. FloDesign’s turbine can automatically align to the wind direction like a kite string, and does not need motorized alignment. Traditional blades are enormous, and require special infrastructure to manufacture and transport. The FloDesign turbine can be disassembled to fit in one truck. FloDesign’s smaller robust rotor spins effectively at lower winds, but can also sustain higher winds in which other turbines would stall or break.
Traditional turbines require wide spacing, while FloDesign’s turbines can be placed closer together, optimizing land. While traditional turbines use fragile cantilevered beams, FloDesign’s shorter, stronger rotor benefits from a hoop. Traditional turbines require placement away from people and buildings. FloDesign turbines are inherently safer, adopting methods from the engineering of jet engines.