The windfarm strikes back

Just when you thought the tide was turning, it turns back on opponents:

Mass Megawatts Wind Power, a company based in Massachusetts, reckons that it can triple the power output of wind turbines by building a ” wind augmentation system“.

It works in the same way that squeezing a hosepipe makes the water come out of it faster. Bernoulli’s principle means that by funnelling wind into a smaller and smaller space, the speed that it travels will increase significantly — about 70 percent, allowing for a very small multi-axis turbine system to be positioned in the middle.

Another benefit of this system is that the amplification means it can be used in low wind speed areas that wouldn’t be suitable for regular turbines. Plus, the height of the structure can be kept below 25 metres. The system is scalable from ten-kilowatt home or farm installations to huge, multi-megawatt power stations.

One commenter wrote:

Considering the amount of public opposition to standard design wind turbines and the concerns they will permanently damage the landscape, I can only the problem becoming a whole lot worse with this design.

[H/T Chuckles]

11 comments for “The windfarm strikes back

  1. graham wood
    September 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    “it can be used in low wind speed areas that wouldn’t be suitable for regular turbines”

    But not presumably in no wind areas – which is everywhere from time to time! 🙄

  2. Watchman
    September 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Hey – an improvement on a model that doesn’t work…

    If they keep that rate of progress up, wind power might actually become a usable part of our power generation in about, well probably 200 years?

    Problem with wind generation is that as it is so heavily subsidised, there is little incentive to improve the technology, so it remains obselete. A classic case of government actually defeating the technology it seeks to promote. It should be possible to have much more effective turbines/generators eventually which should make wind power of some use (it is not now, other than for ruining landscapes) or at least less obtrusive – whether it is worth depending on or not is clearly another matter…

  3. mister_choos
    September 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    I call this invention as bollocks. It is just a bloody big funnel.
    You are just collecting air from the same volume as a bigger turbine blade.
    Volume x of air at y mph has the same amount of energy. Squeeze that volume through a smaller space and you don’t get more energy.

    It will allow a turbine of a certain diameter to operate at lower speeds, but it will also lower the maximum wind speed it can operate in. Unless of course it has controllable vents on it. That would put it out of the price range for home use I would think. It will also only work in one direction. It could be mounted on something that would line it up with the wind, but that would take some seriously big motors.

    Squeezing a hose makes the water come out faster? Oh dear, I hope that was just an explanation for thick journos.

  4. Lord T
    September 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I smell a bovine smell here.

    When you squeeze the hose you get a one off spurt because you are compresing the hose and the water goes the path of least resistance. When you let go you get less water as the hose fills again.

    I would accept that a large funnel into a small turbine is better because it catches the wind and focuses it but even that must take some energy from the wind.

    • mister_choos
      September 3, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      You are right. There will inevitably be friction losses in the funnel.

      Also, as the thing is rectangular, I wouldn’t think it would be very aerodynamic. All of those corners will create turbulence which will reduce the efficiency as the blades will work best with a nice straight airflow.

      So I don’t think there is any danger of this being the holy grail of wind turbines.

      Not that it will stop themsubsidising them of course.

  5. microdave
    September 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    It will also incur frictional losses in the same way as any attempt to restrict flow will do. Another way of looking at it is to compare two different aeroplane propellers: One of small diameter turning quickly, and another much larger diameter one turning slowly. The first will be less efficient and noisy, the second more efficient and quieter.

  6. Mudplugger
    September 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    This will only ever see the light of day if Tim Yeo, MP, has enough personal cash invested in it.

    If so, it will be actively promoted at the highest level, even if the physics is bovine excrement.

  7. ivan
    September 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    I carefully checked the calender and it is September 3rd, definitely not April 1st.

    Like Lord T I smell the smell of male bovine excrement.

    From an engineering view point the are several large problems.
    1. It is a fixed direction unit – you just hope the wind blows from that one direction because the efficiency drops off very quickly as you move from the full frontal.
    2. Why the repeat of the horn at the back? It serves no useful purpose.
    3. Even with full frontal wind direction you get an air intake less than the area of the opening because of static edge turbulence which changes with wind speed.
    4. Even though the shape tries to follow some form of airfoil there will be turbulence from the front edge and the sharp angles where the walls join. This could reduce the effective lamina flow needed by the turbines to 50% if the outside air flow.

    I could go on about it being only efficient at one wind speed with efficiency dropping very quickly either side of that design speed, but I think most people should get the idea that it is pie in the sky.
    It would also make a very good bird mincer, one of higher efficiency the those we have at the moment.

  8. Greg Tingey
    September 4, 2012 at 8:37 am

    As someone who is in favour of sensible “renewables” I’m echoing misterChoos here.
    This is money-grubbing bollocks.
    WInd power simply does not have the necessary energy-density, usually.

  9. cascadian
    September 4, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Somebody tell the jet engine manufacturers-they can delete those expensive compression turbines, the laws of physics have been repealed.

    There is a newspaper reporter with an arts degree born every minute.

  10. David A. Evans
    September 4, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    It seems to use multiple vertical axis turbines which are independent of incidence and work over a greater range of windspeed anyway. Couldn’t decide from the photos but I think the flow straighteners are after the turbines to ease the outflow. There will be frictional losses which will increase as the wind speed increases.

    I agree with Greg though, still not enough density to be of use.


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