Image Dean Kamen/USPTO
The Segway is a sorta cool, sorta goofy contraption that nonetheless inspired folks to think twice about established transportation paradigms. Now, the guy who invented it may be looking to do the same for energy production. Dean Kamen has come up with a design for an inflatable wind turbine that most certainly will not revolutionize the clean energy sector. But it may inspire some to reexamine the untapped potential and unexplored frontiers of renewable power design. Here's Earth Techling:
inventor Dean Kamen makes it clear he doesn't see this as a game-changing energy generator. Instead, he views it more as a cool way to create a little power and perhaps an outdoor messaging system ... in low-wind situations the inflatable's mobility would allow the operator to pack it up and move it to a better power-producing spot. Also, by being much lighter in weight than traditional turbines, "the inflatable sail wind turbine may be installed in various locations that a heavier and/or larger conventional wind turbine may not (be), for example ... on the roof of buildings."Which would be cool! The more people see cool-looking, easy-to-understand, real life applications of clean energy, the better. And Kamen's design has the benefit of not being as unwieldy or conceptual as inflatable turbines like this:
And then there's the advertising angle. Using "light emitting diodes ... powered by energy generated by the wind turbine," the patent application suggests, could create "an image on the blades" that "may include, but are not limited to, pictures, text, symbols, numbers, the date and time, weather forecasts, traffic information, and advertising."
The further renewables get integrated into society, the easier it will be to rally policy support for the sort of large-scale clean energy plants that really will revolutionize electricity generation.
So here's to inflatable wind turbine LED billboards -- let's hope Kamen's patent idea finds some traction in the real world.
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