Jet Engine Wind Turbine Design Could Halve Wind Power Electricity Costs

flodesign wind turbine image
Until some carbon taxes or a cap-and-trade system pushes fossil fuel prices up to where they probably should be (if all the environmental factors are taken into consideration) any small thing that reduces the cost of generating electricity from renewable energy sources is great news.

A claim that a new wind turbine design could reduce the cost of generating electricity from wind power by 50%, and possibly double or triple a turbine’s output in the process is even better news. This is how it could happen:
Wind Forced Through Turbine Blades by Shroud
Technology Review describes how the FloDesign Wind Turbine works:

From the front, the wind turbine looks something like the air intake of a jet engine. As air approaches, it first encounters a set of fixed blades, called the stator, which redirect it onto a set of movable blades--the rotor. The air turns the rotor and emerges on the other side, moving more slowly now than the air flowing outside the turbine. The shroud is shaped so that it guides this relatively fast-moving outside air into the area just behind the rotors. The fast-moving air speeds up the slow-moving air, creating an area of low pressure behind the turbine blades that sucks more air through them.

The idea for this isn’t new, but past attempts to build similar turbines were limited by the fact that the turbine had to be very precisely aligned with the wind’s direction (3-4 degrees), but according to FloDesign’s CEO the blade design of this turbine allows it to work at angles of up to 20 degrees off the wind. Currently FloDesign just has a prototype, but a 12 foot diameter model for field testing should be ready by the end of next year.

Output Double That of Open Bladed Turbines
So where does the cost savings and increased power output come in? Because the shroud which surrounds the blades directs and speeds up the air hitting the blades, a turbine of a given size with this design can produce as much power as a traditional design with blades twice as large. This size reduction could mean that turbines could be spaced more closely together, increasing the amount of power an area of land could produce.

via: Technology Review
image: FloDesign Wind Turbine
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