Cheaper wind power

A turbine design drawing on jet-engine technology reportedly could cut in half the cost of generating electricity from wind.


Wilbraham, Mass.-based FloDesign Wind Turbine reports it has developed a wind turbine that could create wind-generated electricity at half the cost of conventional turbines, according to a report on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review .

Usually, as wind approaches a turbine, approximately half of the air is forced around the blades rather than through them, and the energy in that deflected wind is lost. At best, traditional wind turbines capture only 59.3% of the energy in wind, a value called the Betz limit. By contrast, the FloDesign unit surrounds its wind-turbine blades with a shroud that directs air through the blades and speeds it up, which reportedly increases power production. Smaller blade size and other factors allow the new turbines to be packed closer together than conventional turbines, said to increase the amount of power that can be generated per acre of land.

The company reports it has built a small prototype for wind-tunnel tests and will soon begin building a 12-ft-diameter, 10-kW system for field tests, with completion anticipated by the end of next year or early in 2010.

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